The latest result of the annual rule of law index released by the World Justice Project shows that South Africa has slipped some positions down the index.
The survey was carried out in 142 countries, and South Africa was ranked 56th.
Regionally, South Africa ranks 5th out of 34 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The region’s top performer is Rwanda, which is ranked 41st out of 142 globally, followed by Namibia and Mauritius.
The three countries with the lowest scores in the region are Mauritania, Cameroon, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is ranked 138th globally.
The index relies on more than 149,000 household surveys and 3,400 legal practitioner and expert surveys to measure how the rule of law is experienced and perceived worldwide.
“This is the sixth consecutive index marking global declines in the rule of law.
"This year alone, the rule of law declined in 59% of countries surveyed — including South Africa.
“Since 2016, the rule of law has fallen in 78% of countries studied. The rule of law factor to decline most between 2016 and 2023 is Fundamental Rights — down in 77% of countries, but not in South Africa," said the World Justice Project in its final report.
It added that over the past seven years, index scores for constraints on government powers have fallen in 74% of countries — but not in South Africa.
"Around the world, legislatures, judiciaries, and civil society — including the media — have all lost ground on checking executive power, the Index shows,” reads the report, which was released on Wednesday.
According to the survey, among upper-middle-income countries, South Africa ranks 12th out of 41.