For the first time in six years, Iraq did not find itself as one of the five most corrupt countries in the world in a new report on the topic. From 2006-2010, German’s Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index ranked Iraq the 2nd, 3rd or 4th most corrupt country in the world. This year however, Iraq finally moved up the list to being tied for the eighth spot.
In Transparency International’s new 2011 Corruption Perceptions Index, Iraq was amongst the ten most corrupt countries in the world. Transparency International ranked countries according to several different assessments and surveys on corruption. It calls its report corruption perceptions, because actual corruption is usually very hard to discover. 180 countries were included in the index with a score of 10 being a clean country, and 0 being one that is highly corrupt. Somalia and North Korea received the worst scores of 1.0. Iraq came in tied for number eight with Haiti. Both countries had a 1.8. That obviously placed Iraq at the bottom of the Middle East and North Africa. The closest country from the region was Libya with a score of 2.0, which was tied for #13 with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chad, and Angola. This was an improvement however, from 2010 when Iraq was #4 on the list. That’s because of two reasons. First, Iraq’s score improved from 1.5 last year to 1.8 this year. Second, other countries moved down the list, pushing Iraq up slightly.
Transparency International 2011 Corruption Perceptions Index
1. Somalia 1.0
1. North Korea 1.0
3. Myanmar 1.5
4. Afghanistan 1.5
5. Uzbekistan 1.6
5. Turkmenistan 1.6
5. Sudan 1.5
8. Iraq 1.8
8. Haiti 1.8
Iraq’s 2011 score was better than previous years. From 2006-2010, Iraq was in the bottom five in the Corruption Index. In 2010, Iraq had a score of 1.5 and was ranked #4. It was tied for #4 in 2009. In 2008 and 2007 it was ranked #2. In 2006 it was #3. Before that, Iraq did much better. In 2005, it was ranked #22. It was #17 in 2004, and #20 in 2003. The rankings followed Iraq’s descent into a failed state during its civil war, and its current revival helps explain some of the reasons why its score was better this year.
Iraq’s Ranking In Corruption Index 2003-2011
2008 tied #2
2009 tied #4
2011 tied #8
2011 tied #8
That being said, Iraq still has a horrible problem on its hands. An economic adviser to the Iraqi government was quoted in the press as saying that the recent ranking was unfair, because it did not rely upon official government agencies such as the Integrity Commission, the main anti-graft organization in the country. Of course, Transparency International does not rely upon the host countries for its report, because of the obvious problem of accuracy. Even if it had, it would likely end up with the same conclusion about Iraq. In September, the Integrity Commission’s leader Judge Rahim al-Ogaili resigned. He said there was no desire on the part of the government to combat corruption, that political parties constantly interfered, and that no major cases or top officials were ever prosecuted as a result. Graft, fraud, and bribes are endemic throughout Iraq, and strangle the development of the private sector, siphon off money from the government, and undermine the public’s confidence in institutions.
Even with its low ranking, corruption has improved somewhat in Iraq. During the civil war years of 2005-2007, government agencies were incapable of doing their work. On many days, workers in the anti-corruption agencies couldn’t even go to their offices, because of the lack of security. Now that the fighting has subsided, some low level graft and bribes can at least be detected and prosecuted. That is better than the lawlessness seen in previous years. Whether the average Iraqi sees that as being any better however, is yet to be seen. It is likely the reason for Iraq’s slight improvement in score in the latest corruption index, yet it is not enough to pull the country out of the bottom of the world in terms of corruption.
International Crisis Group, “Failing Oversight Iraq’s Unchecked Government,” 9/26/11
Transparency International, “Corruption Perceptions Index 2011,” December 2011
Wanan, Jaafar, “Advisor Objects to International Transparency Reports on Corruption,” AK News, 12/2/11