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Cover Story
Everything for a Price: Corruption's Toll on the Health of Nations

Corruption Perceptions Index
10 Most Corrupt Countries
Rank
91.
90.
88.

84.



83.
82.
Country
Bangladesh
Nigeria
Indonesia
Uganda
Azerbaijan
Bolivia
Cameroon
Kenya
Ukraine
Tanzania
2001 Score
0.4
1.0
1.9
1.9
2.0
2.0
2.0
2.0
2.1
2.2
Source: Transparency International, 2001.
Corruption: "A virus capable of crippling government, discrediting public institutions and private corporations, and having a devastating impact on the human rights of populations, and thus undermining society and its development, affecting in particular the poor."

Final Declaration: Global Forum on Fighting Corruption and Safeguarding Integrity II, May 2001.


According to the nonprofit group Transparency International (TI), we face a worldwide crisis involving pervasive misuse of power by public officials. Every year TI's Corruption Perceptions Index is scrutinized by government, business, and the press in listed countries. A low score elicits streams of soul-searching commentary assigning blame or proposing solutions. The high-profile attention the list, first issued in 1995, now receives indicates a sea change in attitudes: No longer is graft regarded as business as usual.

Curbing corruption has become a priority in the United Nations, multilateral organizations, and lending agencies; among governments that realize they cannot attract investment or aid without tackling it; and among citizens who are more acutely aware of how corruption undermines the health of their societies.

Corruption Perceptions Index
10 Least Corrupt Countries
Rank
1.
2.
3.
4.

6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
Country
Finland
Denmark
New Zealand
Iceland
Singapore
Sweden
Canada
Netherlands
Luxembourg
Norway
2001 Score
9.9
9.5
9.4
9.2
9.2
9.0
8.9
8.8
8.7
8.6
Source: Transparency International, 2001.
The 1990s saw a proliferation of international and local initiatives to increase accountability and transparency. The banks and corporations that abet corruption overseas are being subjected to heightened scrutiny. And in this past year alone, in some dozen countries, sitting and former government leaders or their relatives were prosecuted for lining their pockets with public funds.

Corruption is narrowly defined for TI's indices as abuse of public office for private gain. But fish rots from the head. In many countries where high-level dishonesty is perceived, corruption is a way of life.

Whether the payoff is called baksheesh, la mordida, kola, Schmiergeld, or chai-pani Kharcha, whether corruption involves graft, extortion, fraud, embezzlement, nepotism, cronyism, money laundering, or just a mandatory tip, in a culture of corruption, ordinary people pay the price.


Margaret Bald


A Crisis of Corruption
Jim Lobe, writing for Rome's Inter Press Service, reports on this year's Corruption Perceptions Index from Transparency International. Full Story

Environmental Destruction
Raúl Monge and Silvia Ortiz, in an eye-opening piece for Mexico City's liberal newsmagazine Proceso, uncover bribery's role in the destruction of Mexico's natural resources.

Taking Multinationals to Task
Chris McGreal, of The Guardian Weekly, reports on the upcoming trial of European and Canadian multinational companies accused of having bribed Lesotho officials in exchange for contracts.

Hypocrisy Surrounds Bribery Issue
Richard Gwyn, writing for The Toronto Star, takes a hard look at the ways in which wealthy countries profit from corruption in poorer countries.

Albania: Up from the Bottom
Alfred Peza, writing for Klan, an independent weekly magazine from Tirana, Albania, assesses Albania's progress since the World Bank declared it the most corrupt country in 1998.

You've Got to Pay to Pee
Olsi Kolami, in a report for Tirana's centrist Shekulli, finds that patients in Albania's hospitals must bribe hospital workers for anesthesia, surgery, and the right to use the bathroom.

"Baksheesh Mentality" in Germany
"We Germans," writes Hans-Ludwig Zachert for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, "have been accustomed in the past, not without considerable smugness and even arrogance, to look down on the 'baksheesh mentality' in other countries. However, the large number of press accounts about bribery cases... prove that there are no grounds for such complacency..."

Ghana's Zero-Tolerance Policy Claims a Victim
George Sarpong, World Press Review's correspondent in Ghana, on the arrest of Minister of Youth and Sports Mallam Isa...

Brazil on the Road to Change
Luís Henrique Amaral, of São Paulo's centrist newsmagazine Veja, takes stock of Brazil's battle against corruption.

Only Available in the Print Edition:


The Language of Naira | Ray Ekpu, Newswatch, Lagos

Custom of the Country | Joachim Buwembo, The East African, Nairobi

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September 2001
Bush on the World Stage

August 2001

Fearful Symmetry: Israelis and Palestinians Locked in a Vicious Cycle

July 2001
The Small-Arms Scourge: How Illegal Gun Traffic Holds the World Hostage