Show Menu

Rule of Law Cheat Sheet by

Basic concepts of the Rule of Law
law     government     factors     rule     justice     subfactors

Introd­uction - The Four Universal Principles

Derived from intern­ati­onally accepted standards, the World Justice Project’s definition of the rule of law is a system in which the following four universal principles are upheld:

1. The government and its officials and agents as well as indivi­duals and private entities are accoun­table under the law.
2. The laws are clear, public­ized, stable, and just; are applied evenly; and protect fundam­ental rights, including the security of persons and property and certain core human rights.
3. The process by which the laws are enacted, admini­stered, and enforced is access­ible, fair, and efficient.
4. Justice is delivered timely by competent, ethical, and indepe­ndent repres­ent­atives and neutrals who are of sufficient number, have adequate resources, and reflect the makeup of the commun­ities they serve.

These four universal principles are further developed in the following nine factors of the WJP Rule of Law Index, which measures how the rule of law is experi­enced by ordinary people in 99 countries around the globe.

Constr­aints on Government Power

Fsactor 1 measures the extent to which those who govern are bound by law. It comprises the means, both consti­tut­ional and instit­uti­onal, by which the powers of the government and its officials and agents are limited and held accoun­table under the law. It also includes non-go­ver­nmental checks on the govern­ment’s power, such as a free and indepe­ndent press. Govern­mental checks take many forms; they do not operate solely in systems marked by a formal separation of powers, nor are they necess­arily codified in law. What is essential, however, is that authority is distri­buted, whether by formal rules or by conven­tion, in a manner that ensures that no single organ of government has the practical ability to exercise unchecked power. This factor addresses the effect­iveness of the instit­utional checks on government power by the:
1.1 Government powers are defined in the fundam­ental law
1.2 Government powers are effect­ively limited by the legisl­ature
1.3 Government powers are effect­ively limited by the judiciary
1.4 Government powers are effect­ively limited by indepe­ndent auditing & review
1.5 Government officials are sanctioned for misconduct
1.6 Government powers are subject to non-go­ver­nmental checks
1.7 Transition of power is subject to the law

Factor 2: Absence of Corruption

Factor 2 measures the absence of corruption in a number of government agencies. The factor considers three forms of corrup­tion: bribery, improper influence by public or private interests, and misapp­rop­riation of public funds or other resources. These three forms of corruption are examined with respect to government officers in the executive branch:
2.1 Government officials in the Executive Branch do not use public office for private gain
2.2 Government officials in the judicial branch do not use public office for private gain
2.3 Government officials in the police and the military do not use public office for private gain
2.4 Government officials in the legisl­ative branch do not use public office for private gain

Factor 3: Open Governemnt

An open government – conven­tio­nally understood as a government that that shares inform­ation, empowers people with tools to hold the government accoun­table, and fosters citizen partic­ipation in public policy delibe­rations – is a necessary component of a system of government founded on the rule of law.

Rule of Law

Factor 4: Fundam­ental Rights

Measures the protection of fundam­ental human rights. It recognizes that a system of positive law that fails to respect core human rights establ­ished under intern­ational law is at best “rule by law”, and does not deserve to be called a rule of law system. Since there are many other indices that address human rights, and as it would be impossible for the Index to assess adherence to the full range of rights, this factor focuses on a relatively modest menu of rights that are firmly establ­ished under the Universal Declar­ation and are most closely related to rule of law concerns. Accord­ingly, Factor 4 encomp­asses adherence to the following fundam­ental rights: effective enforc­ement of laws that ensure equal protec­tion:
4.1 Equal treatment and absence of discri­min­ation
4.2 The right to life and security of the person is effect­ively guaranteed
4.3 Due process of law and rights of the accused
4.4 Freedom of opinion and expression is effect­ively guaranteed
4.5 Freedom of belief and religion is effect­ively guaranteed
4.6 Freedom from arbitrary interf­erence with privacy is effect­ively guaranteed
4.7 Freedom of assembly and associ­ation is effect­ively guaranteed
4.8 Fundam­ental labor rights are effect­ively guaranteed

Factor 5: Order and Security

Measures how well the society assures the security of persons and property. Security is one of the defining aspects of any rule of law society and a fundam­ental function of the state. It is also a precon­dition for the realiz­ation of the rights and freedoms that the rule of law seeks to advance. This factor includes three dimensions that cover various threats to order and security:
5.1 Crime is effect­ively controlled
5.2 Civil conflict is effect­ively limited
5.3 People do not resort to violence to redress personal grievances

Factor 6: Regulatory Enforc­ement

Measures the extent to which regula­tions are fairly and effect­ively implem­ented and enforced. Regula­tions, both legal and admini­str­ative, structure behaviors within and outside of the govern­ment. Strong rule of law requires that these regula­tions and admini­str­ative provisions are enforced effect­ively:
6.1 Government regula­tions are effect­ively enforced
6.2 Government regula­tions are applied and enforced without improper influence
6.3 Admini­str­ative procee­dings are conducted without unreas­onable delay
6.4 Due process is respected in admini­str­ative procee­dings
6.5 The Government does not exprop­riate without adequate compen­sation

Factor 7: Civil Justice

Measures whether ordinary people can resolve their grievances peacefully and effect­ively through the civil justice system. The delivery of effective civil justice requires that the system be accessible and afford­able:
7.1 People can access and afford civil justice
7.2 Civil justice is free of discri­min­ation
7.3 Civil justice is free of corruption
7.4 Civil justice is free of improper government influence
7.5 Civil justice is not subject to unreas­onable delays
7.6 Civil justice is effect­ively enforced
7.7 ADRs are access­ible, impartial, and effective

Factor 8: Criminal Justice

Evaluates the criminal justice system. An effective criminal justice system is a key aspect of the rule of law, as it consti­tutes the conven­tional mechanism to redress grievances and bring action against indivi­duals for offenses against society. Effective criminal justice systems are capable of invest­igating and adjudi­cating criminal offenses succes­sfully and in a timely manner
8.1 Criminal invest­igation system is effective
8.2 Criminal adjudi­cation system is timely and effective
8.3 Correc­tional system is effective in reducing criminal behavior
8.4 Criminal justice system is impartial
8.5 Criminal justice system is free of corruption
8.6 Criminal justice system is free of improper government influence
8.7 Due process of law and rights of the accused

Factor 9 : Informal Justice

Concerns the role played in many countries by customary and ‘informal’ systems of justice – including tradit­ional, tribal, and religious courts, and commun­ity­-based systems – in resolving disputes. These systems often play a large role in cultures in which formal legal instit­utions fail to provide effective remedies for large segments of the popula­tion, or when formal instit­utions are perceived as remote, corrupt, or ineffe­ctive. This factor covers three concepts: whether these dispute resolution systems are timely and effect­ive:.
9.1 Informal justice is timely and effective
9.2 Informal justice is impartial and free of improper influence
9.3 Informal justice respects and protects fundam­ental rights

Download the Rule of Law Cheat Sheet

2 Pages

PDF (recommended)

Alternative Downloads

Share This Cheat Sheet!



No comments yet. Add yours below!

Add a Comment

Your Comment

Please enter your name.

    Please enter your email address

      Please enter your Comment.

          Related Cheat Sheets

          What is the Rule of Law Cheat Sheet

          More Cheat Sheets by Davidpol

          Handy Spice Subsitutions Cheat Sheet