World Justice Project: These 30 World Justice Challenge Finalists Are Defending Rule of Law and Democracy

This article features Government Accountability Project’s Democracy Protection Initiative and was originally published here.

2024 is a pivotal year for democracy, with over 60 countries electing leaders to govern nearly half the world’s population. But despite the possibility of record voter turnout, these elections are unfolding amidst a global rule of law recession that is accelerating democratic decline.

In light of the troubling rise of authoritarianism, misinformation, citizen distrust, and threats to election integrity, the World Justice Project is excited to announce the 30 finalists in the World Justice Challenge 2024: “The Rule of Law: Foundation of Democracy.”

Selected from a pool of 424 submissions from 109 countries, these outstanding projects were chosen for their demonstrated impact in advancing the rule of law in four categories: electoral processes and transitions of government powerjustice institutionsfree media and trustworthy information; and youth engagement. A fifth group of finalists were selected for the U.S. Building Trust Prize, which will recognize an exceptional U.S. project for achievements in one or more of the Challenge’s four thematic categories.

In the final stretch of the competition, finalists will be invited to showcase their projects this summer at the 2024 American Bar Association Annual Meeting in Chicago. Five winning projects will each receive a $20,000 cash prize and opportunities to network and build their global profile throughout the year.

Who are the finalists?

From election monitoring in Guatemala to investigative reporting in Ghana, the 2024 World Justice Challenge finalists are employing innovative strategies to reinforce the rule of law and democracy. Finalists from 23 countries on 5 continents have demonstrated creativity and resilience in the face of mounting threats to constraints on government power, such as a free press, independent courts, fair elections, and citizen participation.

In Latin America, where the memory of military dictatorship still looms large in countries like Brazil, the “Protect Democracy-2022 Brazilian Elections” coalition safeguards democratic principles against threats and ensures respect for election results, as demonstrated in their decisive response to the January 8, 2023, attack on the capital in Brasilia.

In Africa, where coup attempts have surged across the continent, projects like “Enhancing Meaningful Youth Participation in National Development, Peacebuilding, and Political Processes in Zimbabwe” have fostered youth engagement to support future rule of law leaders and minimize threats of post-election violence.

In Eastern Europe, where young democracies have experienced democratic backsliding, initiatives like Poland’s “Free Courts Foundation” defend the rule of law through strategic litigation, combating the politicization of courts after years under a government that faced European Union proceedings for undermining judicial independence.

In Asia, where elections have been marred by misinformation campaigns seen in democracies globally, initiatives like “Election 66” in Thailand have leveraged technology to supply voters with precise data and candidate profiles to bridge the gaps in election information.

In the United States, finalists such as “Empowering Prosecutors to Protect Democracy and Advance Free and Fair Elections” are working to build election integrity safeguards before the momentous presidential election in November.

These initiatives represent just a glimpse of the inspiring projects that applied to compete in this year’s Challenge, underscoring widespread commitment to bolstering the rule of law foundation for democratic resilience.

30 finalists will compete in five categories:

Electoral Processes

BrazilPacto Pela Democracia. This coalition’s initiative is aimed at preventing disruptions to the Brazilian electoral process. It works to ensure respect for election results by sharing global experiences in protecting democracy and by employing other, prevention, crisis management, and knowledge-sharing strategies.

GuatemalaGuatemala Visible. Throughout Guatemala’s 2023 General Elections, this organization’s project focused on monitoring electoral authorities and facilitating citizen reporting of irregularities through a digital app.

KenyaUshahidi Inc. During Kenya’s 2022 General Elections the Ushahidi election platform monitoring enabled citizens to report real-time messages about the electoral process.

ParaguaySemillas para la Democracia. Semillas’ project aims to empower civil society to monitor political financing, combat organized crime, and eliminate corruption in elections.

SloveniaSlovene Philanthropy, Association for Promotion of Volunteering. Slovene Philanthropy’s initiative unites civil society organizations and individuals to prioritize substantive political debate over populism and empty promises, with goals including increasing voter turnout, addressing the exclusion of civil society from decision-making, and holding elected officials accountable to their campaign promises.

ThailandWeVis. In the context of Thailand’s 2023 General Election, the civic technology initiative by WeVis provided comprehensive election data and information to empower voters, foster informed decision-making, and facilitate constructive societal discourse.

Justice Institutions

Latin America (15 Countries)The Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice. The Vance Center’s work supports independent judicial associations to address threats to judicial independence, transparency, and integrity by strengthening institutional capacities, advocacy efforts, communications, and networks to uphold the integrity of legal institutions.

NigeriaKimpact Development Initiative. Kimpact’s initiative monitors post-election dispute resolution processes to promote reforms in the electoral justice system, increase transparency, simplify judicial processes, and engage youth in the judicial process through accessible information and citizen participation.

MexicoMéxico Evalúa. México Evalúa’s initiative evaluates the criminal justice system, identifying areas for improvement, and fostering cooperation among authorities, justice professionals, and local communities to build capacity, define shared agendas, and address citizen priorities.

PolandFree Courts Foundation. Established by Polish lawyers, the Free Courts Foundation’s work defends the rule of law through strategic litigation, education, and communication, handling over 100 cases regarding judiciary and rule of law, representing judges, and combating the politicization of independent courts.

SerbiaYUKON (Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights). YUKON’s initiative aims to strengthen citizens’ confidence in judicial institutions by improving dialogue and communication between citizens and representatives of the judiciary, focusing on establishing proactive relationships, enhancing understanding of the legal system, and identifying citizens’ primary needs in their interactions with the judiciary.

TaiwanJudicial Reform Foundation. A response by the Judicial Reform Foundation to the Sunflower Movement, providing legal support to citizen protesters, compelling judicial actors to uphold democratic values, and engaging Taiwanese society in a dialogue on the importance of a robust legal system in safeguarding democracy.

Media and Information

AlbaniaResPublica. By expanding counters to media inaccuracies, ResPublica Albania provides legal assistance, education, and mentorship to journalism students and young journalists, aiming to strengthen quality journalism and media accuracy.

ArgentinaForo de Periodismo Argentino. Revealing local news deserts affecting press freedom, Foro de Periodismo Argentino found almost 75% of Argentinian territory identified as lacking professional journalism practices at the local level.

AzerbaijanMeydan TV. Meydan TV is Azerbaijan’s leading independent media outlet, working to diversify content, enhance news accessibility, and foster public discourse on socio-political issues.

GhanaMedia Foundation for West Africa. A public interest journalism project by the foundation promoting accountability and rule of law through investigative reporting, resulting in greater government accountability and enforcement of laws.

MexicoARTICLE 19. In response to the executive power’s threats and attempts to eliminate fundamental autonomous bodies, ARTICLE 19 began this project to defend the right to information of Mexican citizens through legal actions, campaigns, and advocacy efforts.

VenezuelaTransparencia Venezuela: A fact-checking and verification site by Transparencia Venezuela, working to address electoral disinformation and publish investigations on opacity, propaganda analysis, and media influence operations.

Youth Engagement

BrazilPolitize!- Civic Education Institute. A nonprofit organization focused on increasing civic participation among youth, promoting democracy and citizenship education to empower young people to actively shape their communities and participate in decision-making processes.

KenyaWeCare Organization, GovJunction, Community Led Solutions. This multi-organizational project aimed at empowering youth to participate in governance processes through education and technology, fostering informed and engaged citizens capable of shaping policies and upholding democratic values.

NepalYouth in Federal Discourse. Workshops and mock assemblies held by Youth in Federal Discourse educating youth on legislative processes, parliamentary functions, and civic duties, fostering informed voters and potential representatives to contribute to a vibrant democratic culture.

Romania, Moldova, Bosnia and Herzegovina: Konrad-Adenauer Stiftung. A transnational project by Konrad-Adenauer Stiftung cultivating a community of young legal professionals through values-based training, with the aim to promote the rule of law, improve the justice system, and foster active civic engagement among young jurists.

UkraineUnited Nations Development Program (UNDP). A UNDP initiative engaging local Ukranian youth in discussions about community recovery and resilience, facilitating dialogue between youth and local authorities to address concerns and support civic initiatives for sustainable development.

Zimbabwe4-H Zimbabwe Foundation. 4-H’s project focuses on advancing youth participation in development, peacebuilding, and political processes post-election, facilitated through a Youth Council for Peace and collaboration with political parties to promote inclusion and engagement of youth in national processes.

U.S. Building Trust Prize

Common Cause. Through its election initiative, Common Cause is combating partisan gerrymandering by advocating for an inclusive and transparent redistricting process.

Fair and Justice Prosecution. Facilitating collaborative efforts with elected prosecutors to bolster election security, combat disinformation, educate constituents, and advocate for the rule of law through resources, technical assistance, and public engagement activities.

Government Accountability Project. A multifaceted initiative by the Government Accountability Project aims to safeguard democracy by utilizing whistleblower disclosures to advocate for accountability and reform, garnering support from various sectors to address undemocratic practices and corruption within government agencies.

IssueVoter. A nonpartisan platform to inform users about relevant legislation, facilitate communication with lawmakers, and promote civic engagement.

LexisNexis Rule of Law Foundation. The foundation created a comprehensive, publicly accessible tool for real-time access and analysis of U.S. federal and state voting and election laws, empowering users with unbiased information to track legislative activity and news related to voting and election laws across the United States.

VoteRiders. VoteRiders’ project is dedicated to ensuring that all eligible voters can participate in elections regardless of voter ID laws, by providing education and assistance to obtain necessary identification and fostering community-based efforts to support voter ID initiatives.