Measuring Corruption in Iraq: Between Perceptions and Reality

However, there is limited overlap between the surveys in the countries they cover. For a country to be included in the CPI, a minimum of three sources must be available. Variations in the number of sources used for each country inevitably arise. Whereas India’s CPI score, for example, was based on ten sources, only three were available for Haiti. The CPI for 2009 ranked 180 countries and territories and the final score for each country was calculated as the average of the transformed scores from each source.

General weaknesses of the CPI

A number of inherent weaknesses in the CPI have been highlighted and doubts about Transparency International’s methodology have been raised. TI acknowledges the difficulties in measuring actual corruption, but claims that the CPI is a reliable method as it draws on the “experience and perceptions of those who see first hand the realities of corruption in a country”.

The fact that there is no universally agreed definition of corruption poses a problem. Whether unofficial fees paid to public officials to induce bureaucratic services, known as facilitation payments, fall under corruption depends on the judicial standards of each country. Similarly, procurement rules vary from country to country. While businesspeople in one country may perceive closed tenders a form of corruption, it may be seen as entirely appropriate in countries where such procedures are commonplace.

In Iraq, a number of cases involving the mismanagement of funds by private security companies and international organisations have been reported. But TI’s definition of corruption as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain”, limits the scope of corrupt activities to public officials and politicians. Corruption in the private sector and within foreign aid agencies is overlooked.

Lastly, given that corruption is defined as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain”, is TI’s definition applicable to many authoritarian regimes where the power of ruling elites has been obtained by force and intimidation? The abuse of entrusted power does not therefore exist. But it would be difficult to accept that dictatorial regimes are not corrupt. Rather, it would be plausible to suggest that all the activities of ruling elites are corrupt, since their primary motivation is to hold on to power for private gain.

However, some corrupt activities may not exist in authoritarian countries due to the nature of their political systems. For example, in democratic countries, lobbyists and special interest groups are often accused of influencing political parties through illicit means in order to push for legislation to be passed that would favour their interests. However, in countries where a pluralistic party system does not exist, the prevalence of such activities is likely to be significantly less. Again, it would be unreasonable to suggest that these countries are less corrupt because of the lack of such practices.

One Response to Measuring Corruption in Iraq: Between Perceptions and Reality

  1. The good news from Iraq | peacefare.net 17th December 2010 at 14:04 #

    [...] protecting the citizenry.  Another good indicator:  complaints about corruption are on the rise (but see this critique of Transparency International’s rating of Iraq before reaching conclusio....  Corruption is not something you worry about when mass murder is [...]

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  1. The good news from Iraq | peacefare.net - 17th December 2010

    [...] protecting the citizenry.  Another good indicator:  complaints about corruption are on the rise (but see this critique of Transparency International’s rating of Iraq before reaching conclusio....  Corruption is not something you worry about when mass murder is [...]