The 2009 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) released last week rates Somalia as the World’s most corrupt country and New Zealand the least. The CPI is a project of Transparency International, a global non-profit, that analyzes business and expert surveys to measure “the perceived level of public-sector corruption in 180 countries and territories around the world.”
According to the CPI, the five most corrupt countries are Somalia, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Sudan, and Iraq. Prolonged conflict is the highest common denominator among these countries. Corruption has run amuck in the absence of legitimate governing bodies and political stability.
Somalia and Sudan have each been embroiled in civil war for decades leading to genocide in the case of Sudan and earning the title failed state for Somalia. Myanmar has been in a perpetual state of turmoil since the 1962 military coup. Rounding out the top five are Afghanistan and Iraq, two countries awash with U.S. military and money. Afghanistan has actually become more corrupt in the last year, dropping from fifth place to second, despite continued international pressure on President Karzai to crack down on corruption.
The least corrupt countries tend to be small and homogeneous with long-standing political structures. Closely following New Zealand are Denmark, Singapore, Sweden, and Switzerland. No real surprises here. While the United States doesn’t make the top five, we rank a respectable nineteen, right after the United Kingdom. The primary concern cited in the U.S. surveys was, “lack of government oversight in relation to the financial sector.” The CPI also stated that the “U.S. legislature is perceived to be the institution most affected by corruption.”
Transparency International also warns, in an accompanying press release, that rampant corruption could interfere with the global economic recovery. “At a time when massive stimulus packages, fast-track disbursements of public funds and attempts to secure peace are being implemented around the world, it is essential to identify where corruption blocks good governance and accountability, in order to break its corrosive cycle” said Huguette Labelle, Chair of Transparency International.
— Faith Smith