Looking at Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index 2012, it's clear that corruption is a major threat facing humanity. Corruption destroys lives and communities, and undermines countries and institutions. It generates popular anger that threatens to further destabilise societies and exacerbate violent conflicts - and as is clear from the chart below, the red (more corrupt perceptions) are creeping across Europe. The Corruption Perceptions Index scores countries on a scale from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). While no country has a perfect score, two-thirds of countries score below 50, indicating a serious corruption problem in the world. The US ranks 19th - perceived as more corrupt than the UK, Japan, Barbados, and Hong Kong (but less corrupt that France). In Transparency's words: "Corruption amounts to a dirty tax, and the poor and most vulnerable are its primary victims."
Corruption translates into human suffering, with poor families being extorted for bribes to see doctors or to get access to clean drinking water. It leads to failure in the delivery of basic services like education or healthcare. It derails the building of essential infrastructure, as corrupt leaders skim funds.
After a year with a global focus on corruption, we expected more governments to take a tougher stance against the abuse of power. The Corruption Perceptions Index results demonstrate that there are still many societies and governments that need to give a much higher priority to this issue.