Corruption continues to plague too many countries around the world, according to Transparency International’s 2011 Corruption Perceptions Index, released last week.
It shows some governments failing to protect citizens from corruption, be it abuse of public resources, bribery or secretive decision-making. Transparency International warned that protests around the world, often fuelled by corruption and economic instability, clearly show citizens feel their leaders and public institutions are neither transparent nor accountable enough.“
This year we have seen corruption on protestors’ banners be they rich or poor. Whether in a Europe hit by debt crisis or an Arab world starting a new political era, leaders must heed the demands for better government,” said Huguette Labelle, Chair of Transparency International.
Corruption Perceptions Index 2011: The results
The index scores 183 countries and territories from 0 (highly corrupt) to 10 (very clean) based on perceived levels of public sector corruption. It uses data from 17 surveys that look at factors such as enforcement of anti-corruption laws, access to information and conflicts of interest.
Two thirds of ranked countries score less than 5. New Zealand ranks first, followed by Finland and Denmark. Somalia and North Korea (included in the index for the first time) are last.
“2011 saw the movement for greater transparency take on irresistible momentum, as citizens around the world demand accountability from their governments. High-scoring countries show that over time efforts to improve transparency can, if sustained, be successful and benefit their people,” said Transparency International Managing Director, Cobus de Swardt.
Most Arab Spring countries rank in the lower half of the index, scoring below 4. Before the Arab Spring, a Transparency International report on the region warned that nepotism, bribery and patronage were so deeply engrained in daily life that even existing anti-corruption laws had little impact. Eurozone countries suffering debt crises, partly because of public authorities’ failure to tackle the bribery and tax evasion that are key drivers of debt crisis, are among the lowest-scoring EU countries.
Results for the US
The US ranks 24th in this year’s CPI, below Qatar (22nd), Bahamas (19th) and Barbados (16th), and lower than more than half of its OECD partners. Recent corruption scandals in the political arena, in public procurement and particularly in the financial sector, which fuelled Occupy Wall Street and similar movements across the country, may help explain why the U.S. fails to make it into the top 10% of the CPI. The US political culture driven by special interest groups likely adds to this perception.
“While the US has a commendable record of enforcing its anti-bribery laws, we firmly believe that greater efforts should be made to increase transparency and accountability, particularly in the financial sector, while repealing attempts to weaken the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. We welcome recent efforts to increase government transparency in revenues from oil, gas, and mining. We support action in other sensitive areas, particularly denying corrupt foreign officials access to our financial systems and facilitating responsible asset repatriation” said Claudia Dumas, President and CEO of Transparency International – USA.
TI-USA works at home and abroad to combat corruption and promote transparency and integrity in government, business and development assistance.