Two years into the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) reveals that corruption levels have stagnated 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 historic lows in their CPI score. Meanwhile, human rights and democracy across the world are under assault.
This is no coincidence. Corruption enables human rights abuses, setting off a vicious and escalating spiral. As rights and freedoms are eroded, democracy declines and authoritarianism takes its place, which in turn enables higher levels of corruption.
The past year has brought disturbing examples of this, from the killing of human rights defenders and the closing of media outlets, to government spying scandals like the Pegasus Project. Increasingly, rights and checks and balances are being undermined not only in countries with systemic corruption and weak institutions, but also among established democracies.
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 CPI scores 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, according to experts and business people.