The world at a standstill
This year’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 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).
This year, the global average remains unchanged for the tenth year in a row, at just 43 out of a possible 100 points. Despite multiple commitments, 131 countries have made no significant progress against corruption in the last decade. Two-thirds of countries score below 50, indicating that they have serious corruption problems, while 27 countries are at their lowest score ever.
Trouble at the top, COVID-19 and human rights
As anti-corruption efforts stagnate worldwide, human rights and democracy are also under assault.
This is no coincidence. Our latest analysis 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 who violate civil liberties tend to score lower.
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.
In authoritarian contexts where control rests with a few, social movements are the last remaining check on power. It is the collective power held by ordinary people from all walks of life that will ultimately deliver accountability.
Many high-scoring countries with relatively “clean” public sectors also continue to enable transnational corruption – with consequences for their own corruption levels.
There is an urgent need to accelerate the fight against corruption if we are to halt human rights abuses and democratic decline across the globe.
The 2021 CPI shows that top-scoring countries’ complacency has been detrimental not only to global anti-corruption efforts but also to their own affairs.
Corruption enables both human rights abuses and democratic decline. In turn, these factors lead to higher levels of corruption, setting off a vicious cycle.
What’s happening around the world?
While corruption takes vastly different forms from country to country, this year’s scores reveal that all regions of the globe are at a standstill when it comes to fighting public sector corruption.
At the top of the CPI, countries in Western Europe and the European Union continue to wrestle with transparency and accountability in their response to COVID-19, threatening the region’s clean image. In parts of Asia Pacific, the Americas, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, increasing restrictions on accountability measures and basic civil freedoms allow corruption to go unchecked. Even historically high-performing countries are showing signs of decline.
In the Middle East and North Africa, the interests of a powerful few continue to dominate the political and private sphere, and the limitations placed on civil and political freedoms are blocking any significant progress. In Sub-Saharan Africa, armed conflict, violent transitions of power and increasing terrorist threats combined with poor enforcement of anti-corruption commitments rob citizens of their basic rights and services.
Check out the latest corruption wins, scandals and predictions for each region of the world.
CPI 2021 for Eastern Europe & Central Asia: Democratic hopes in the shadow of growing authoritarianism
In the second lowest performing region on the CPI, many political leaders have used COVID-19 as a smokescreen to introduce restrictions on rights and accountability, or have severely cracked down on the freedoms needed to call out corruption.
CPI 2021 for Sub-Saharan Africa: Amid democratic turbulence, deep-seated corruption exacerbates threats to freedoms
2021 was a turbulent year for Sub-Saharan Africa. On a continent where corruption plunders precious natural resources and impedes access to public services for millions of people, the results of a decade of stagnation cannot be more devastating.
CPI 2021 for Middle East & North Africa: Systemic corruption endangers democracy and human rights
The region is struggling to achieve tangible results against corruption – no country has registered a significant improvement on the CPI in the last decade. Private interests continue to overtake the common good amid systemic political misconduct, facilitating further corruption and abuses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
CPI 2021 for Western Europe & European Union: Trouble ahead for stagnating region
Western Europe and the EU still tops the CPI, but the COVID-19 pandemic has threatened transparency and accountability across the region, leaving no country unscathed and exposing worrying signs of backsliding among even the region’s best performers.
CPI 2021 for the Americas: A region in crisis
With no progress on an average score of 43 out of 100 for the third consecutive year, the countries of the Americas are paralyzed in the fight against corruption. Despite extensive anti-corruption laws and commitments, corruption in the region continues to weaken democracy and human rights, while even high performers are showing signs of trouble.
CPI 2021 for Asia Pacific: Grand corruption and lack of freedoms holding back progress
Asia has witnessed 10 years of mass movements calling for action against corruption, but much of this public outrage has been co-opted by populist leaders and autocrats. Meanwhile, in parts of the Pacific, government wrongdoing is concealed from citizens and it is dangerous to speak up.
The CPI Explained
The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) is the most widely-used global corruption ranking in the world. But how is it calculated? What kinds of corruption does it cover? And why are certain countries not included? Watch this short explainer video, or dive straight into the most frequently asked questions.