Two years into the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) reveals that corruption levels remain at a standstill worldwide.
Despite commitments on paper, 131 countries have made no significant progress against corruption over the last decade, and this year 27 countries are at a historic low in their CPI score. Meanwhile, human rights and democracy across the world are under assault.
This is no coincidence. Corruption enables human rights abuses. Conversely, ensuring basic rights and freedoms means there is less space for corruption to go unchallenged.
Highlights from the Index
The Index ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and businesspeople. It relies on 13 independent data sources and uses a scale of zero to 100, where zero is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean.
More than two-thirds of countries (68 percent) score below 50 and the average global score remains static at 43. Since 2012, 25 countries significantly improved their scores, but in the same period, 23 countries significantly declined.
Results for the Americas
Analysis for Trinidad & Tobago
As anti-corruption efforts stagnate and deteriorate, human rights and democracy are under attack.
The use by some governments of the COVID-19 pandemic to erode human rights and democracy could also lead to sharper declines across the globe in the future.
Of the 23 countries whose CPI score significantly declined since 2012, 19 also declined on the civil liberties score. Moreover, out of the 331 recorded cases of murdered human rights defenders in 2020, 98 percent occurred in countries with a CPI score below 45.
The Way Forward
Corruption may be a multifaceted problem, but it is one we know how to solve. To end the vicious cycle
of corruption, human rights violations and democratic decline, governments should:
Restore and strengthen institutional checks on power. Public oversight bodies such as anti-corruption agencies and supreme audit institutions need to be independent, well-resourced and empowered to detect and sanction wrongdoing. Parliaments and the courts should also be vigilant in preventing executive overreach.
Combat transnational forms of corruption. Governments in advanced economies need to fix the
systemic weaknesses that allow cross-border corruption to go undetected or unsanctioned. They must
close legal loopholes, regulate professional enablers of financial crime, and ensure that the corrupt and
their accomplices cannot escape justice.
Uphold the right to information in government spending. As part of their COVID-19 recovery efforts,
governments must make good on their pledge contained in the June 2021 UNGASS political declaration
to include anti-corruption safeguards in public procurement. Maximum transparency in public spending
protects lives and livelihoods.