The world at a standstill

Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for 2021 reveals that corruption levels are at a worldwide standstill.

The CPI ranks 180 countries and territories around the world by their perceived levels of public sector corruption. The results are given on a scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). The UK ranks 11th in the world, with a score of 78.

In 2021, the global average remained unchanged for the tenth year in a row, at just 43 out of a possible 100 points. Despite previous commitments, 131 countries made no significant progress against corruption in the last decade.

As anti-corruption efforts stagnate worldwide, human rights and democracy are also under assault. This is not accidental: Transparency International’s research shows that protecting human rights is crucial in the fight against corruption. Countries with well-protected civil liberties generally score higher on the CPI, while countries which violate civil liberties tend to score lower. In the last decade, 90% of countries have stagnated or declined in terms of civil liberties.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has also been used in many countries as an excuse to curtail basic freedoms and side-step important checks and balances. Transparency and accountability also declined during the Covid pandemic, with a number of countries, Britain included, engulfed in procurement scandals.

While advanced Western countries generally score better, “the line between politics and business often remains blurred. Inadequate controls on political finance, opaque lobbying, and the revolving doors between industries and their regulators are all-too-common even in best-performing countries.”

Additionally, less obvious corruption in these countries enables greater corruption and human rights violations in other parts of the world. Transnational corruption is also facilitated by a lax approach in the west. A 2019 report identified nearly 600 UK businesses, institutions, and individuals who have helped corrupt individuals, unwittingly or otherwise, obtain, move and defend their ill-gotten gains.

Transparency International calls on governments to roll back disproportionate restrictions on freedom of expression, association and assembly introduced since the start of the pandemic, restore institutional checks on power, combat transnational forms of corruption and uphold the right to information in government spending.

Subscribe to the blog for email notifications of new posts