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This archived article was published in the fall of 2003
Scandinavian countries score best
in international corruption index

Corruption is perceived to be pervasive in Bangladesh, Nigeria, Haiti, Paraguay, Myanmar, Tajikistan, Georgia, Cameroon, Azerbaijan, Angola, Kenya, and Indonesia - countries with a score of less than 2 in the 2003 edition of the Transparency International 'Corruption Perception Index'. Countries with a score of higher than nine, with very low levels of perceived corruption, are rich countries, namely Finland, Iceland, Denmark, New Zealand, Singapore and Sweden.

"Rich countries must provide practical support to developing country governments that demonstrate the political will to curb corruption. In addition, those countries starting with a high degree of corruption should not be penalised, since they are in the most urgent need of support," Dr Peter Eigen, Chairman of Transparency International (TI) told City Mayors on the launch of the TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2003 (CPI).

The ten countries perceived
to be least corrupt by TI

Points out of 10
New Zealand

"The new CPI points to high levels of corruption in many rich countries as well as poorer ones, making it imperative that developed countries enforce international conventions to curb bribery by international companies, and that private businesses fulfil their obligations under the OECD anti-bribery convention, namely to stop bribing public officials around the world," Dr Eigen stressed. But he also pointed out that nine out of ten developing countries scored less than five against a clean score of ten in the TI CPI 2003. "Their governments must implement results-oriented programmes to fight corruption, but they also urgently require practical help tailored to the needs of their national anti-corruption strategies."

For these strategies to succeed, Dr Eigen explained, "such support must go hand in hand with international backing for civil society to monitor the implementation of these strategies?. In addition, he insisted, ?donor countries and international financial institutions should take a firmer line, stopping financial support to corrupt governments and blacklisting international companies caught paying bribes abroad".

The ten countries perceived
to be most corrupt by TI

Points out of 10
Myanmar (Burma)

Seven out of ten countries scored less than five out of a clean score of ten in the TI CPI 2003, which reflects perceived levels of corruption among politicians and public officials in 133 countries. Five out of ten developing countries scored less than three out of ten, indicating a high level of corruption. The 2003 edition of the annual CPI, published by TI, an international non-governmental organisation (NGO) devoted to fighting corruption worldwide, reflects the perceptions of business people, academics and risk analysts, both resident and non-resident. The statistical work was co-ordinated by Prof Dr Johann Graf Lambsdorff at Passau University in Germany, advised by a group of international specialists.

Some changes highlighted in the CPI were identified by Dr Eigen. "On the basis of data from sources that have been consistently used for the index, improvements since last year’s index can be observed for Austria, Belgium, Colombia, France, Germany, Ireland, Malaysia, Norway and Tunisia. Noteworthy examples of a worsening are Argentina, Belarus, Chile, Canada, Israel, Luxembourg, Poland, USA and Zimbabwe."

There are many countries where there is now a high-level political commitment to fight corruption. In such countries, international support, especially for transparency in public contracting is essential to build solid foundations for removing corruption from government and public services. In particular, the private sector must take full responsibility for its conduct at home and abroad, and take urgent steps to stop paying bribes. To make this a reality, TI and private sector companies have worked together to develop a set of business principles for countering bribery, advocating anti-bribery training and codes of conduct within companies.

Dr Eigen told CityMayors that a beginning could be made to close the rift between developing and rich countries, which was so evident at the WTO meeting in Cancún, Mexico, last month if WTO negotiations were launched on a multilateral framework agreement on transparency in government procurement (TGP).

"For less developed countries, it is in their own interests to introduce transparency measures in public procurement because the waste of their own scarce resources is at stake. If corruption in procurement is not contained, poverty will grow," Dr Eigen said.

The CPI report demonstrates that it is not only poor countries where corruption thrives. Levels of corruption are worryingly high in European countries such as Greece and Italy, and in potentially wealthy oil-rich countries such as Nigeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Libya, Venezuela and Iraq.

To turn around this situation so that ordinary people share in the oil wealth of their country, TI is campaigning, along with other NGOs, for international oil companies to publish what they pay to governments and state oil companies. This will enable citizens and civil society organisations in countries such as Nigeria, Angola, Iraq, Indonesia and Kazakhstan to have a clearer picture of state revenues.

Political parties, the courts and the police were identified as the three areas most in need of reform in TI’s Global Corruption Barometer, a survey of the general public in 48 countries, launched in July 2003.

The CPI 2003, published in October 2003, is a poll of polls, reflecting the perceptions of business people, academics and risk analysts, both resident and non-resident. First launched in 1995, the 2003 CPI draws on 17 surveys from 13 independent institutions. A rolling survey of polls provided to TI between 2001 and 2003, the CPI 2003 includes only those countries that feature in at least three surveys. “It is important to emphasise that the CPI, even with 133 countries, is only a snapshot,” Peter Eigen explained. “There is not sufficient data on other countries, many of which are likely to be very corrupt.”

The CPI 2003 complements TI’s Bribe Payers Index (BPI), which addresses the propensity of companies from top exporting countries to bribe in emerging markets. The BPI 2002, published on 14 May 2002, revealed high levels of bribery by firms from Russia, China, Taiwan and South Korea, closely followed by Italy, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Japan, USA and France – although many of these countries signed the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, which outlaws bribery of foreign public officials.

"The OECD Convention came into force in 1999, but we are still awaiting the first prosecutions in the courts of the 35 signatory countries," said Dr Eigen. "The governments of these countries have an obligation to developing countries to investigate and prosecute the companies within their jurisdictions that are bribing. Their bribes and incentives to corrupt public officials and politicians are undermining the prospects of sustainable development in poorer countries."

Introducing Dr Peter Eigen, Chairman of Transparency International
Dr Peter Eigen is a lawyer by training. He has worked in economic development for 25 years, mainly as a World Bank manager of programmes in Africa and Latin America. Under Ford Foundation sponsorship, he provided legal and technical assistance to the governments of Botswana and Namibia, and taught law at the universities of Frankfurt and Georgetown.

From 1988 to 1991 he was the Director of the Regional Mission for Eastern Africa of the World Bank. He is founder and chairman of Transparency International (TI).

From 1999 to 2001 Peter Eigen has been Adjunct Lecturer at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He is also a member of the Advisory Council of the Center for International Development at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. He is Trustee of Crown Agents Foundation as well as a member of the Advisory Commission on the UN, the Global Compact and Commissioner of the Commission on Globalization of the State of the World Forum.

In 2000, he received the award of Honorary Doctor of the Open University. In September 2001, he joined the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace as Visiting Scholar while teaching at Johns Hopkins University/ SAIS