Public outcry at corruption, impunity and economic instability sent shockwaves around the world in 2011. Protests in many countries quickly spread to unite people from all parts of society. Their backgrounds may be diverse, but their message is the same: more transparency and accountability is needed from our leaders.
The 2011 Corruption Perceptions Index shows that public frustration is well founded. No region or country in the world is immune to the damages of corruption, the vast majority of the 183 countries and territories assessed score below five on a scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 10 (very clean.) New Zealand, Denmark and Finland top the list, while North Korea and Somalia are at the bottom.
The Corruption Perceptions Index ranks countries and territories according to their perceived levels of public sector corruption. It is an aggregate indicator that combines different sources of information about corruption, making it possible to compare countries.
The 2011 index draws on assessments and opinion surveys carried out by independent and reputable institutions. These surveys and assessments include questions related to the bribery of public officials, kickbacks in public procurement, embezzlement of public funds, and the effectiveness of public sector anti-corruption efforts. Perceptions are used because corruption is to a great extent a hidden activity that is difficult to measure. Over time, perceptions have proved to be a reliable estimate of corruption.
“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.
Public sector governance that puts the interests of its citizens first is a responsibility that transcends borders. Governments must act accordingly. For their part, citizens need to continue demanding better performance from their leaders.
If we work together, the situation shown by this year’s Corruption Perceptions Index can improve. These are our countries and our future.