Denmark, Finland, and New Zealand took a shared-first place on an annual list of “least corrupt nations in the world” created by a German watchdog nonprofit.
Transparency International publishes the Corruption Perceptions Index to measure the perceived corruption of a nation as regarded by business people and industry experts. The index ranks 180 countries on a scale of 0 or “highly corrupt” to 100 or ”very clean.”
The nonprofit and non-governmental organization notes it was created in 1993 to “end the injustice of corruption by promoting transparency, accountability, and integrity” through civil societal anti-corruption measures.
“In authoritarian contexts where control rests with a few, social movements are the last remaining check on power,” said Daniel Eriksson, the organization’s Chief Executive officer. “It is the collective power held by ordinary people from all walks of life that will ultimately deliver accountability.”
In the 2021 edition of the index, Denmark, Finland, and News Zealand all scored 88 points. Finland climbed from its previous score by three points, while the other countries retained their previous score.
Norway, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Netherlands, Luxembourg and Germany filled out the remaining top 10 places, each with a score of 80 or higher.
The three first-place nations are also ranked in the top 10% on the Transparency Index’s Democracy Index.
The United States fell from the top 25 least corrupt nations for the first time, scoring 67 points. It was regarded as more corrupt than the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Australia, Japan, the United Arab Emirates, Taiwan, and Chile among others.
The report noted that the US was one of three advanced economies, including Australia and Canada, that are among 23 nations that have notably declined on the CPI.
Western Europe was the best-scoring region overall. Transparency International noted that “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.”
“Even historically high-performing countries are showing signs of decline,” said the organization in its analysis. It notes that the COVID-19 pandemic has “been used in many countries as an excuse to curtail basic freedoms and sidestep important checks and balances.”
Ultimately, CPI reported that 86% of countries made little to no pross in the last decade and diad that “corruption levels remain at a standstill worldwide.” It says no progress had been made in 154 countries in the last ten years.
“Transparency International found countries that violate civil liberties consistently score lower on the CPI,” according to the report released on Jan. 25. “Complacency in fighting corruption exacerbates human rights abuses and undermines democracy, setting off a vicious spiral. As these rights and freedoms erode and democracy declines, authoritarianism takes its place, contributing to even higher levels of corruption.”
With just 11 points, Syria was labeled the most corrupt nation in the world.