Time to end impunity for corruption. The 2023 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) shows that corruption is thriving across the world. The CPI ranks 180 countries and territories around the globe by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, scoring on a scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).
Over two-thirds of countries score below 50 out of 100, which strongly indicates that they have serious corruption problems. The global average is stuck at only 43, while the vast majority of countries have made no progress or declined in the last decade. What is more, 23 countries fell to their lowest scores to date this year.
Injustice and trouble at the top
The global trend of weakening justice systems is reducing accountability for public officials, which allows corruption to thrive.
Both authoritarian and democratic leaders are undermining justice. This is increasing impunity for corruption, and even encouraging it by eliminating consequences for criminals. Corrupt acts like bribery and abuse of power are also infiltrating many courts and other justice institutions across the globe. Where corruption is the norm, vulnerable people have restricted access to justice while the rich and powerful capture whole justice systems, at the expense of the common good.
Countries ranking high on the CPI have an impunity problem of their own, even if this isn’t reflected in their scores. Many cross-border corruption cases have involved companies from top-scoring countries that resort to bribery when doing business abroad. Others have implicated professionals who sell secrecy or otherwise enable foreign corrupt officials. And yet, top-scoring countries often fail to go after perpetrators of transnational corruption and their enablers.
“Corruption will continue to thrive until justice systems can punish wrongdoing and keep governments in check. When justice is bought or politically interfered with, it is the people that suffer. Leaders should fully invest in and guarantee the independence of institutions that uphold the law and tackle corruption. It is time to end impunity for corruption.” François Valérian. Chair of Transparency International.
What’s happening around the world?
Every region is either stagnant in its overall corruption efforts or showing signs of decline. However, a few countries have significantly improved their scores in the last decade, showing that progress is possible in any environment.
While Western Europe and the European Union remains the top-scoring region, its regional average score dropped to 65 this year, as checks and balances weaken and political integrity erodes. Despite improvement in some countries, Sub-Saharan Africa maintains the lowest average at 33, with democracy and the rule of law under pressure.
The rest of the world remains stagnant with all other regions having averages under 50. Eastern Europe and Central Asia grapples with the dysfunctional rule of law, rising authoritarianism and systemic corruption.
The Middle East and North Africa shows little improvement, reflecting ongoing struggles with political corruption and conflict, and Asia Pacific shows long-term stagnation, although some countries historically at the top are backsliding. Finally, lack of judicial independence and weak rule of law are enabling widespread impunity in the Americas.
January 30, 2024 Published by The Transparency International 2024. (Download PDF Report)