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Developing indicators to measure the rule of law: A global approach
Jim Parsons et al.
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Governance and rule of law performance indicators have emerged as a tool for tracking progress. This is a report about a pilot project which developed a set of 60 rule of law indicators designed to assess and be tested on the cities of Chandigarh in India, Lagos-Nigeria, Santiago-Chile and New York in USA. The indicators draw from various data sources like expert opinions, views from the general public, and information from the police, courts, prisons, NGOs and legislation.
The report states that the findings of quality of the rule of law in the four sites are preliminary. It adds that the most important findings are the methodological and substantive insights which emerged. It believes that the majority of the indicators are useful measures of the rule of law, but the team is still examining which indicators should be prioritized, eliminated or revised. Additionally, it has not defined the cut-off points to delineate positive from negative results. However, it offers a series of tables that briefly summarize the findings for each city but warns that it is important to note that the information is not a reliable measure of rule of law in any of the countries.
The report highlights the lessons learned as follows:
local knowledge and expertise is essential
if sufficiently flexible, rule of law indicators can be used even in data poor environments
the use of multiple data collection methods by the various teams was a strength of the pilot
face to face communication is crucial.
The report presents the following as the future challenges:
defining concepts and ambiguities in interpretation>
developing precise indicators
balancing flexibility and comparability
facing the limitations of available data
measuring the rule of law provided by non-state justice systems.
The report concludes that as the project is extended, work will continue in the four test and additional sites to refine both the indicators and methodology to produce more useful information about rule of law leading to a measurement system that will contribute to standard practice internationally. It shows that a single set of indicators can be flexible enough to be used in diverse locations internationally while remaining meaningful to local stakeholders.