Although corruption is prevalent in all countries around the world, some are more corrupt than others. The annual Corruption Perception Index (CPI) put countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America at the top of the list of the world's most corrupt countries and named countries in Europe and North America as the world's least corrupt countries. The CPI defines corruption as the misuse of public assets for private gain. The index ranks countries by their perceived level of corruption by use of a scale of 0-100 where 100 is least corrupt and 0 is most corrupt. According to the 2017 report, more than 60% of the countries scored below 50%. However, some countries scored as high as over 80. Here are the least corrupt countries in the world:
According to the Corruption Perception Index 2017, New Zealand is the least corrupt country in the world. The country has consistently ranked among the three least corrupt countries, topping the index for seven consecutive years until 2013. Its worst position in 10 years was fourth in 2015. New Zealand has a completely independent judiciary that maintains accountability and impartiality. The Independent Police Conduct Authority keeps the police on checks, ensuring that practices such as corruption in the police force are dealt with. The Ombudsman ensures that the citizens are treated fairly while seeking government services.
Denmark is the second least corrupt country in the world according to the CPI. It has been consistently ranked top 4 since the inception of the index in 1995. In 2016, Denmark was the least corrupt country alongside New Zealand. Business corruption, administrative corruption, and other forms of corruption are very rare in the country. The independent judiciary, social trust, and transparency mechanisms are some of the factors that ranks Denmark as one of the most transparent countries. The country’s penal code forbids any form of bribery.
Finland is the third-least corrupt country for the fifth consecutive time since 2013. Its CPI score for 2017 was 85 down from 89 in 2016. The fight against corruption in Finland is a collective responsibility of both the government and its citizens. Political leaders are strongly committed against corruption. The government also maintains an efficient integrity system and transparent mechanism. The strong legal framework and independent judiciary also discourage any form of corruption in the country.
Norway also ranks as the third-least corrupt country in the world alongside Finland and Switzerland with a score of 85, with the score remaining unchanged from 2016. Several factors work together to ensure that corruption in Norway remains low. The country has efficient and strict legislation against corruption that helps to maintain a high standard within the public sector. The judiciary is also independent of executive and legislature, helping in the maintenance of accountability and impartiality. The executive, led by the prime minister, is also accountable to the legislature which keeps it on check and ensures that public resources are used appropriately.
Switzerland moved two places up from the previous year to position three in 2017 with a score of 85 despite dropping one point. The country has consistently ranked among the top 10 least corrupt countries since 2010. Switzerland has a direct democratic system in which the people can influence the government’s activities through referenda. This direct system makes the government one of the most transparent and stable in the world. Switzerland has an operational legal system and laws against corruption that assist in maintaining a clean system within the public sector.
Singapore is the fifth least corrupt country in the world with a score of 84 up from position seven in 2016. The score remained unchanged from the previous year (2016). Corruption cases in Singapore are mainly investigated and prosecuted by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau. The powerful judiciary in Singapore is globally known for its impartiality and legitimacy. The theory behind low corruption cases in Singapore compared to the neighboring countries such as Thailand is the ability of the state to pressure private interest to funnel capital into sectors that would benefit the public in the long term.
Sweden moved three places down to the seventh least corrupt country in the world with a score of 84 in 2017. The 2017 score was its least score in six years, having scored 88 in 2016. Sweden is widely popular for equality, high-quality life, human development, health, and education. Transparency and stability in the government help in lowering the corruption cases. The government bodies consider corruption as an abuse of powers that needs to be discouraged and prosecuted. There is also a functioning anti-corruption body in Sweden that investigates and prosecutes all corruption cases.
Canada is the least corrupt country in the Americas and the 8th least corrupt country in the world with a CPI score of 82. The country has moved two steps up from 10th in 2016 despite the score remaining the same. Canada’s open and democratic parliamentary system makes it one of the least corrupt countries in the world. Canada is also popular for its government transparency, high-quality life, and efficient educational life. The laws are made by the legislature, implemented by the executive, and interpreted by an independent supreme court.
With an index score of 82, Luxembourg tied with Canada and Netherlands in position eight. The country gained one point, moving it from position 10 in 2016. Luxembourg is one of the smallest and richest countries in the EU as well as the world. It is the only sovereign Duchy remaining in the world and the low rate of corruption is not a surprise about the country. One of the main concerns of the government of Luxembourg is the observance of the anti-corruption laws. The judiciary is also transparent.
The Netherlands is also the eighth-least corrupt country in the world according to Transparency International. The country registered a CPI score of 82 in 2017 down from 83 the previous year. The Netherlands has consistently ranked among the ten least corrupt countries in the last six years. To ensure that corruption is kept as low as possible, the government strictly adheres to the transparent judicial system and the existing anti-corruption laws.
The World's Least Corrupt Countries
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About the Author
John Misachi is a seasoned writer with 5+ years of experience. His favorite topics include finance, history, geography, agriculture, legal, and sports.
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