Corruption is widely recognized as one of the major problems in this world. It’s a form of dishonest or unethical behaviour engaged by people who seek to gain an unfair advantage over others for their personal benefit.
Sometimes it’s the bribing of a public official with the goal of favouring one party in a competitive business scenario while in other occasions it can also involve the illegal appropriation of public or private funds. Another common form of corruption would be someone in a position of power using that same power to behave as if they are above the law.
What sometimes seems like a minor act of favouritism is, more often than not, a symptom of a systemic problem of the society in which that activity takes place. If public authority can be undermined in any context, the state loses the strength it needs to enforce its laws.
When people witness corruption at the highest levels of government, they become highly demoralized as they recognize the impossibility of success when the odds are stacked in this manner. Even if they build a successful product or service they’ll always lose to the guy who has the right minister, secretary or comptroller in his pocket.
Corruption has a way of getting out of control to the point it can dominate an entire country. Here we’ll go through the 15 most corrupt countries in the world.
Most people will remember when disaster struck Haiti in 2010. Celebrities rushed to the poverty-stricken Caribbean nation when it was hit by a massive earthquake in 2010. They aimed to raise awareness and the effort was a success. The generosity of people allowed for 2 billion dollars to be raised.
However, the funds meant for the people affected by the earthquake were ravaged by the rampant corruption practised in the country’s bureaucracy. The 2011 Human Rights Report by the United States State Department found corruption “remained widespread in all branches and at all levels of government” in spite of the country’s democratic election of a new president in 2011.
Turkmenistan spent 69 years under the ruthless rule of the Soviet Union and this has proven a very difficult heritage to the Central Asian nation. The country declared independence in 1991 with the fall of the USSR, but it was too late as the totalitarian rule of the Soviets left its tradition intact. This resulted in a new totalitarian regime imposed by the new government of Turkmenistan.
As always, it’s the people who suffer. Human rights violations are ripe and anyone looking for a better life faces severe restrictions if they try to emigrate in search of a better life. Unsurprisingly, the country has an abysmal record for freedom of the press and censorship is prevalent across all levels of media.
Much like Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan faced the same struggles. As it was ruled for decades by the Soviet Union’s authoritarian practices, so it inherited these when the Soviet bloc finally succumbed under the weight of its own oppression. In what unfortunately is a common ground for corruption, Uzbekistan is very rich in natural resources, which the government conveniently appropriates.
This authoritative government doesn’t allow for any of the wealth to trickle down into the private sector as they seek to have control over all of the country’s resources – perfectly in line with the communist tradition. The government, known for its totalitarianism, sets the example of corruption which the rest of the country follows.
There is an international consensus between experts that Cambodia is one of the most corrupt countries in the world, a sentiment which is not echoed by Cambodian nationals, what illustrates perfectly how adept their corrupt governmental institutions are at perverting their public’s perception.
A possible explanation for this misperception might be explained by the fact that some forms of corruption are so common in Cambodia they have become a normalized behaviour. The Cambodian population is one of the world’s most likely to pay bribes, as a study revealed 60% of population had to pay a bribe to at least one public official.
This Latin American nation has been ever present in news programs throughout the globe due to the economic crisis it afflicts it. Although the country itself is rich in natural resources like oil, government corruption and communism have starved its people, who have now taken to the streets.
Hugo Chavez came to power in 1999 promising to remove corruption but he only worsened it. As is always the case with communism, democracy was the first thing to go with cronyism and corruption becoming the norm. His successor, Nicolas Maduro, has carried on Chavez’s practices and Venezuela is currently paralyzed by riots and protests where the corrupt police kill protesters who just want food on their plates.
Where there are vast amounts of wealth and weak political institutions, corruption will prevail and, unfortunately, this Asian nation is no exception to the rule. Myanmar is wealthy in natural resources like oil, precious gems and timber, which as we well know, lure corrupt politicians.
After recently emerging from decades of military rule, Myanmar which is also known as Burma drafted an anti-corruption law, but the country’s vast resources stayed under the control of the same people who were in power during the military regime. A recently democratically-elected government was installed in 2016 and its reforms are yet to take effect.
During Saddam Hussein’s regime, after the American invasion, and before it was destroyed by the war waged by the Daesh (ISIS), Iraq was gripped by a serious corruption epidemic. In Saddam’s dictatorship, anyone who would try to rid the country of corruption would be immediately annihilated. Unfortunately, even after the country was “liberated”, corruption still remained a serious issue.
A telling testimony from a former political exile in 2009 stated “millions of dollars are being stolen, and some of this money is going to terrorist groups. The government cannot win the war against the insurgency if it does not fight corruption first. And the war against corruption is much harder to win.” As we well know, ISIS benefited from this.
This African nation is perhaps best known for its ruthless dictator Robert Mugabe. Corruption is ripe in Zimbabwe under Mugabe’s authoritarian regime. With the economy destroyed by record-breaking inflation, the population lives in abject misery and famine is all too common.
Mugabe’s cronies live like royalty as they live off the exploitation of the rest of the Zimbabwean people. Bribery is the only way to get anything done in the country, both in the public and private sectors. Anyone who tries to do anything about it is killed by Robert Mugabe’s remorseless agents. Unfortunately, corruption is here to stay, as the country will not see democracy anytime soon.
Home to several terrorist organizations, Yemen has been bombed by the United States during the Obama administration, with its government taking the fall for these covert bombings in a shady deal, which has seen the light of day thanks to WikiLeaks. If this is how the government behaves, it is no surprise Yemen has found its way onto our list.
Different terrorist cells have destroyed the country by turning it into a smuggling corridor for weapons and drugs. Yemen has only just recently created a freedom of information law so effective public scrutiny of government activities is still a mirage at this point.
This Northern African country has been struggling through a period of instability since the previous regime came to an end in 2011. Muammar Gaddafi’s 40-year authoritarian rule came to a violent end after a bloody civil war. This civil war’s repercussions are still being felt throughout Lybia.
The ensuing turmoil has led to several unsuccessful attempts to establish a central government. These failures have resulted in corruption settling into Lybia’s everyday way of life. The bribery of public officials has become the only option for regular people to get anything done in the country, from utilities to construction, in business and in politics.
5. South Sudan
With a per capita GDP of around $2,400, South Sudan is one of the poorest countries on the planet. It has recently seceded from Sudan in 2011, gaining its independence and becoming the youngest country in the world in the process. Its newly found independence came after a long, arduous period of civil war.
Unfortunately, this type of setting provides the perfect breeding ground for corruption. South Sudan is extremely rich in oil, which has funded around 98% of the government’s budgets, but this wealth hasn’t found its way to its citizens, as is the rule for countries on this list.
Afghanistan is a country riddled with the corruption and bribery. This nation has been ravaged by war several times throughout its history. The country has also become synonymous with drug trafficking which perhaps explains why it’s found its way onto our list.
As is usually the case in countries devastated by war and drugs, bribery, corruption and kickbacks are incredibly common to the point that they’ve become an accepted social practice. Even the former president’s brother has been revealed by WikiLeaks to be in charge of drug trafficking in the country so it looks like Afghan corruption is here to stay.
Although it’s only third on our list, some experts believe Sudan to be the most corrupt nation in the world. The country has recently lost about 75% of its oil production capability with South Sudan’s 2011 independence but the bad habits created by the elites who profited from the country’s oil reserves are here to stay.
Although its citizens don’t perceive Sudan’s public sector itself to be especially corrupt, their perception of the nation’s parliament is entirely different. A recent survey has pointed out roughly three-quarters of the population believed their members of parliament to be highly corrupt. The country’s weak political institutions indicate corruption will be an integral part of the country’s day-to-day life for the time being.
2. North Korea
A former satellite of the Soviet Union, North Korea has managed to survive the fall of the Soviet bloc by finding a new “sponsor” in China. Unfortunately, it’s been subjected to the same Soviet tradition of widespread famine and poverty while its elites reap the benefits of corruption.
The regime hasn’t changed, with the Kim dynasty firmly in power, and it continues to prefer investing in a nuclear program, for which it had the help of former US President Bill Clinton. While its dictator entertains himself with failed missile launches, the people of North Korea bribe anyone they can to escape the country’s famine and poverty. Unfortunately, the vast majority is unsuccessful.
International consensus on any topic is something difficult to achieve in the context of international relations, but one thing seems certain above all others. Somalia is considered the most corrupt country in the world, a fact which doesn’t seem likely to be changed anytime soon.
The country’s corruption and violence were sparked by the United States and Soviet Union conflict, as both nations tried to install a regime which would further their interests. Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Somalia has been basically a country without laws. Some parts of the country aren’t even reached by any sort of official authority. Clans fight over control of several different regions and pirates swarm the coastline.
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