Rule of law is widely considered as an essential precondition for inclusive socio-economic development.

Rule of law refers to a set of standards and practices that roughly come down to a notion of a system in which citizens, politicians and government officials are constrained by law in their behavior.

Government officials are not “above” the law. Quite the contrary, they are obliged to obey the law as well as to change the law only according to the prescribed and agreed upon procedure. The limits to the lawmaking might be found in constitutional constraints, international legal documents, human rights or natural rights standards. This secures a whole set of legal and political values intrinsic to stable, economically advanced and inclusive democracies: constraints on government, openness and transparency, respect for civil and human rights etc. In a nutshell rule of law secures equal rights to all citizens and effective constraints on government powers as a guarantee that individual interests and right might be fulfilled more effectively.


Indicator definition

The WJP Rule of Law index is a comprehensive and well-defined set of indicators ranging from constraints on government powers and absence of corruption to civil justice and criminal justice.

The WJP Rule of Law Index is comprised of nine factors further disaggregated into 47 specific sub-factors. These nine factors are: Constraints on Government Powers, Absence of Corruption, Open Government, Fundamental Rights, Order & Security, Regulatory Enforcement, Civil Justice, Criminal Justice, and Informal Justice

The scores and rankings of the 44 sub-factors (factors 1 through 8) draw from two data sources collected by the World Justice Project in each country: 1) a general population poll (GPP) conducted by leading local polling companies using a representative sample of 1,000 respondents in the three largest cities,² and 2) qualified respondents’ questionnaires (QRQs) consisting of closedended questions completed by in-country practitioners and academics with expertise in civil and commercial law, criminal justice, labor law, and public health.

Significant effort has been devoted during the last four years to collecting data on informal justice in a dozen countries. Nonetheless, the complexities of these systems and the difficulties of measuring their fairness and effectiveness in a manner that is both systematic and comparable across countries, make assessments extraordinarily challenging. Although the WJP has collected data on this dimension, they are not included in the aggregated scores and rankings.

These data are processed, normalized on a 0 to 1 scale, and aggregated from the variable level all the way up to the dimension level for each country, and then to an overall score and ranking.

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Data explanation

According to the WJP Rule of Law indicators Serbia ranks 74th out of 113 countries and 7th out of 13 in the region. The analysis of the data behind the score points out to few weaknesses of the Serbian institutional and legal environment, most notably the lack of independent judiciary and its inability to sanction officials for their misconduct, weak criminal justice system as well as the ability of executive government to exert various pressure on other institutions. Obviously, various factors have contributed to this, ranging from historical processes that still shape the present-day institutions and politics to the issue of design of particular institutions and social, political or cultural factors that stand behind them. There are, however, few of those worthy of mentioning.

The transition from socialism to communism meant that a whole new institutional system ought to be rebuilt. One feature of transition has largely contributed to the weakening of the rule of law – privatization of large state assets that has led to asset stripping and creation of new political and economic elites. This process that is yet to be finalized, as well as the large role of the state and its resource in national economy, still presents an important impetus for the growing governmental powers and its ability to control other social and political actors. A unique feature of Serbian transition is that it took place in a decade marked by civil wars and international military interventions that have further contributed to the institutional destruction and criminalization of the society.

Serbia has also a long history of strong informal institutions that nowadays contribute to pervasiveness and influence of informal networks and networks of clientelism and patronage. These networks sometimes tend to create parallel informal institutions that completely suppress the formal ones. In such a complex environment, political elites not only abused their powers for asset stripping, creating coalitions with middle classes or economic elites around particular political or redistributive issue, but they have effectively undermined institutional development in majority of areas, ranging from judiciary to independent regulatory bodies, or from economic development to social policy.

Indicator definition

The Corruption Perception Index aims to capture general and professional perception of the current state of affair when it comes to corruption as a perceived phenomenon.

The Corruption Perceptions Index aggregates data from a number of different sources that provide perceptions of business people and country experts of the level of corruption in the public sector.

Each source should originate from a professional institution that clearly documents its methods for data collection. These methods should be methodologically sound, for example, where an ‘expert opinion’ is being provided, we seek assurance on the qualifications of the expert or where a business survey is being conducted, that the survey sample is representative.

Each source is then standardised to be compatible with other available sources, for aggregation to the CPI scale. The standardisation converts all the data sources to a scale of 0-100 where a 0 = highest level of perceived corruption, and 100 = lowest level of perceived corruption.

For example, the 2012 CPI takes into account different surveys and assessments from 12 different institutions. The 13 surveys/assessments are either business people opinion surveys or performance assessments from a group of analysts. Early CPIs used public opinion surveys. The institutions are:

  • the African Development Bank,
  • the Bertelsmann Foundation,
  • the Economist Intelligence Unit,
  • Freedom House,
  • Global Insight,
  • International Institute for Management Development,
  • Political and Economic Risk Consultacy,
  • The PRS Group, Inc., the World Economic Forum,
  • the World Bank,
  • the World Justice Project.

Countries needs to be evaluated by at least three sources to appear in the CPI.

The CPI measures perception of corruption due to the difficulty of measuring absolute levels of corruption.

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Data explanation

Low ranking in the Rule of Law Index and the underlying factors that have contributed strongly reflected in a high Corruption Perception Index. At present, Serbia ranks as 72nd out of 176 countries. However, there was a progress in recent years, as the index was in a steady growth from 2005 to 2012 and then it stagnated at the present level. There were achievements in particular areas, like public procurement and conflict of interest but the law enforcement and the ability to control misconduct of public officials still remain weak points of Serbian anticorruption agenda. Roughly speaking, the same factors that contribute to the weak institutionalization of the rule of law also explain the endemic corruption that is often described as the state capture. Weak and ineffective civil society has only contributed to the gloomy picture – it never seemed particularly capable of imposing the social and government accountability agenda and strengthening mechanisms of legal accountability.