The United States continues to lag behind the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada and numerous Scandinavian countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2013, a list that is the most widely used indicator of national corruption.
This year the US ranked 19th out of 177 countries and territories, with an overall score of 73. Scores range from zero to 100, with a higher score indicating less corruption. While the US score remained unchanged from last year, other countries have improved their performances relative to the US. The UK, for example, which was ranked 17th in 2012 with a score of 74, has now climbed to 14th place. Denmark and Finland share the top spot.
Afghanistan’s score on the CPI also remains unchanged in 2013 – as does the fact that it continues to be one of the most corrupt countries in the world, according to the index. Afghanistan scored an 8 on the CPI this year. This is the lowest score listed on the index, and is shared by Afghanistan, Somalia and North Korea.
It's troubling that Afghanistan continues to be plagued by some of the worst corruption in the world despite the US pouring over half a trillion dollars into the country. Earlier this year a dramatic showdown in the Afghan parliament had lawmakers openly flinging allegations of corruption at each other. Following this, the director of Integrity Watch Afghanistan blamed international aid and military organizations for fueling the cycle of corruption in the country.
Similarly conflict-ridden countries continued to perform badly on the CPI this year, with Syria and Yemen slipping closer to the bottom of the ranks. The index reveals that the Middle East is a hotbed of corruption, with 84% of Middle East and North African countries scoring below 50 on the CPI. Transparency International says the average regional score is 37 – significantly below the global average of 43.
The Corruption Perceptions Index defines “corruption” as “generally comprising illegal activities, which are deliberately hidden and only come to light through scandals, investigations or prosecutions.”
According to the index, this year’s most improved countries are Myanmar, Brunei, Laos, Senegal, Nepal, Estonia, Greece, Lesotho and Latvia, and the biggest decliners are Syria, the Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Libya, Mali, Spain, Eritrea, Mauritius, Yemen, Australia, Iceland, Slovenia, Guatemala, Madagascar and Congo Republic.