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Homer Moyer Discusses the Impact of COVID-19 on Democratic Principles and the Rule of Law in the Washington Lawyer

"The Rule of Law Under Pressure"

Washington Lawyer

Homer Moyer discussed in the Washington Lawyer how democracies, both struggling and established, faced serious tests of their commitment to free and open societies in the face of a public health crisis. The World Justice Project (WJP)'s 2021 report found that the rule of law declined for 74 percent of the 139 countries evaluated. The United States was ranked 27, dropping two positions in global ranking due to deteriorations in the factors measuring constraints on government powers, absence of corruption, open government, and fundamental rights. "Surveys about yearly changes and trends are important and can be worrisome, but uneven progress and backsliding are not surprising," Moyer said, adding that when a country transitions from totalitarianism to democracy grounded in rule of law, "it can easily take a generation or maybe more, given the scale and complexity of the progress." He added that trends in the long term will continue to favor democracy and rule of law, noting "in addition to building strong, well-functioning democratic systems, preserving rule of law depends on an informed citizenry and responsible government decision making on matters of national importance… Self-governing democracies that experience partisan gridlock, destabilizing income inequality, fragmentation of national values, or other threads to effective governance can put their democracies, and consequently the rule of law, at risk."

Although Moyer notes that challenges remain, the 29 countries that were Soviet republics or Soviet satellites before the fall of the Berlin Wall have since made "dramatic and impressive progress" in becoming free societies committed to the rule of law.