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Empirical indicators are widely used in both developing and developed countries to assess the performance of justice systems. Most existing indicator initiatives base their findings on expert surveys, document reviews, administrative data, or public surveys. While each of these data sources is suited to the measurement of particular facets of justice system performance, reliance on just one or two sources of information can introduce systematic bias, distorting the results of assessments. This paper discusses the strengths and weaknesses of each of the commonly used types of indicator data and describes an approach that uses clusters of indicators drawn from multiple sources. This method can reflect the complex and multi-faceted nature of justice systems while including checks on the biases inherent in individual data sources. The paper concludes with a discussion of the strengths and drawbacks of this method compared to approaches more commonly adopted by existing indicator initiatives.
Over the last two decades, there has been a proliferation of indicators designed to measure and quantify the delivery of justice services. This paper describes the range of justice system indicator instruments that are currently in use and the data sources and measures that they employ. The authors identify 53 instruments assessing various aspects of the rule of law and a subset of 31 instruments that specifically address the operation of law enforcement agencies, judicial systems, corrections, and informal justice mechanisms. This review, conducted for the United Nations as part of the Rule of Law Indicators Project, considers the strengths and shortcomings of existing justice indicators in the light of common challenges facing countries recovering from conflict, including: political instability, problems of legitimacy and corruption; safety and security; and, challenges relating to capacity and infrastructure. We conclude with suggestions for supplementing existing indicators to develop measures that can inform efforts to enhance the rule of law in post-conflict settings.
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