Challenges and innovations in rule of law measurement

Challenges and innovations in rule of law measurement

Seminar, June 16th 2022, 12h-14h
  • Actualité Sciences PoActualité Sciences Po

LIEPP's Evaluation of democracy research group is glad to invite you to the seminar: 

Challenges and Innovations in rule of law measurement 

Thursday, June 16th, 12h00 - 14h00
Location: Room C.S16, 1, place Saint Thomas d'Aquin, 75007
Mandatory registration 

Presentation by: 


The new stress on rule of law due to Sustainable Development Goal 16, on one hand, and the EU new Rule of Law mechanism, on the other, exposes on old vulnerability that scholars have long been aware. Rule of law is notoriously difficult to measure, and the thicker the concept the greater the difficulty, as it’s a basket (multidimensional) concept. Even more difficult is to identify a comprehensive and reliable measurement across time. The most popular governance indicators are perception ones, like the World Bank Institute Governance Indicators, the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Survey or Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index. Such indicators have proved vulnerable to the reputation change of countries. In Europe, high deficit countries, most notably Greece, deteriorated on their World Bank Rule of Law and Corruption Perception Index after the euro crisis hit, exactly when they had embarked on reforms to correct imbalances and rationalize their governance. Once the popular perception attributed their economic problems to their chronic governance quality, experts rushed to correct their previously high rankings, thus punishing precisely the more reform-minded governments, which were trying to fix the problem.

Measurement of institutional change is a formidable problem, and despite advances in governance measurement due to open data there is little guidance for policymakers. A United Nations Development Programme review report noted: ‘To put it plainly, there is little value in a measurement if it does not tell us what needs to be fixed’ (UNDP 2008, p. 8). We need to establish both the present status and the evolution over time of rule of law if we are to succeed in evaluating rule of law across time and provide action-able advice.

This seminar discusses the challenges of operational definitions of rule of law, reviews critically the current measures, and proposes a strategy to use fact-based measures allowing more precise monitoring over time of changes in rule of law. A new generation of fact-based indicators is proposed drawing on the current work of the lecturer as academic consultant for governance measurement for UNODC.

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