And the most corrupt nation this year is.... (+video)
It's a tie between Afghanistan, North Korea, and Somalia. Elsewhere, bankrupt Greece, one-party China, and various 'Arab Spring' nations stand out in Transparency International's annual rankings.
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Latin America Editor
Whitney Eulich is the Monitor's Latin America editor, overseeing regional coverage for CSMonitor.com and the weekly magazine. She also curates the Latin America Monitor Blog.
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Corruption is a major threat across the globe, impacting citizen’s perceptions of their leaders and trust for their government, regardless of the level of development or economic ranking. Corruption can also play a role in political unrest, as seen around the world from the Middle East to China to Greece.
Today, Transparency International released its Corruption Perceptions Index for 2012, measuring perceptions of how corrupt public sectors seem to be based on data sources from independent institutions in each country based on a period of 24 months. Transparency International notes that “levels of bribery, abuse of power and secret dealings are still very high in many countries.” Out of the 176 countries ranked in this year’s index, some two-thirds scored below 50, with zero indicating a perception of high levels of corruption and 100 indicating a perception of openness or clean dealings in the government. The US ranked 19th, up from 24th in 2011.
Worldwide, New Zealand, Denmark, and Finland had the highest scores, aided by strong systems ensuring public access to information and regulations that keep politicians and the political system in check. On the other end of the spectrum, North Korea, Somalia, and Afghanistan brought up the rear, all characterized by a lack of transparent and accountable leaders and public institutions in shambles.
“After a year of focus on corruption, we expect governments to take a tougher stance against the abuse of power…. [S]ocieties continue to pay the high cost of corruption,” said Huguette Labell, chair of Transparency International. The organization notes:
Corruption translates into human suffering, with poor families being extorted for bribes to see doctors or to get access to clean drinking water. It leads to failure in the delivery of basic services like education or healthcare. It derails the building of essential infrastructure, as corrupt leaders skim funds.
Take Greece, for example. The past year has seen endless protests over public leadership, false reporting on financial status, and strict austerity measures. “Greece's global ranking fell from 80th in 2011 to 94th in 2012, reflecting the country's continuing economic turmoil and widespread tax evasion,” reports the BBC, making Greece the European Union country most perceived as corrupt.