in a league of their own - how all the world's governments compare
just1WORLD's groundbreaking league table on governance shows how all national governments across the world (including Hong Kong and Taiwan) compare in terms of laying the vital foundations for their people to advance.
As far as can be ascertained no international body produces a league table that lays bare what is required of governments around the world in laying the groundwork for their peoples to move forward. The World Bank Governance Indicators rank 215 countries in order in 6 different disciplines - Voice and Accountability, Political Stability, Government Effectiveness, Regulatory Quality, Rule of Law, Control of Corruption - but does not give actual scores nor produce an aggregate total league table. This is shameful for this glaring omission does feckless governments no favours allowing them to escape responsibility for their poverty of aspiration. It also means that people in poor countries are not being given proper support in trying to escape the yoke of poverty. So, for just1WORLD, it is time to forget political posturing around the subject and to expose the performance of every government on the planet so that inept, rapacious and oppressive governance can be brought to light. Now the world at large, including international charities and poverty campaigners, can see exactly where hapless governance lies and, hopefully, start to apply meaningful pressure for reform. For in order to Make Poverty History improving governance is fundamental.
Adam Smith, the father of economics, in his magnum opus 'An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations', published in 1776, states that there are two distinct objects of political economy: the FIRST is to enable people to provide revenue for themselves and the SECOND is to supply the country with resources for public services. In order to obtain the second, without recourse to continual borrowing, the first must be achieved.
Giving people the tools to make the most of their lives is essential and there can no longer be any excuse for not doing so. For, according to former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, 'as a result of the experience of the last 50 years in global governance there is ample evidence from around the world as to what works and what doesn't. The tough part is not knowing what to do, but doing it.'
And 'doing it' is what underpinned the incredible successes of the Asian 'tigers', Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea, in the last half century. However, shamefully, today far too many governments in developing countries still appear unwilling or unable to enact legislation which would lay the basis for their people to gain economic and social traction. Meanwhile, in the industrialised world - western governments, multilateral organisations (e.g. World Bank, IMF, etc.), international NGOs (e.g. Oxfam, Christian Aid, etc.) churches, Comic Relief and even pop stars - sit on the sidelines, looking the other way, either for fear of being accused of arrogance, racism or neo-colonialism, if they interfere, or because it is just too politically sensitive an issue. All of the above entities generously invest much time, experience and, above all, money in trying to alleviate pockets of poverty across the world but if they started to prioritise governance their efforts could soon see exponential change supercharging development where it currently is lacking.
Today the No 1 priority for any government of an impoverished country has to be to confront 'corruption.' Left unchecked corruption chokes progress by constantly gnawing away at the very heart of development. Corruption also seriously undermines confidence in institutions, undercuts the state's ability to raise revenues, leads to higher taxes, picks people's pockets, poisons human relations, paralyses initiative, discourages investment in new enterprises, encourages dealings in the 'black market' and promotes conflict. And, as such, we make no apology for giving corruption the greatest weight in our World Governance Table.
Also important is for governments to put in place actions which will underpin business activity and economic advancement. This requires building up institutions, adherence to the rule of law, upholding contracts, fair and simple taxation, ease in setting up businesses, encouraging self discipline and permitting people to own their own land. All this comes under the banner 'economic freedom' and we give this the next greatest weight in the table.
However, political rights, civil liberties and freedom of the media are also valuable and help create a virtuous circle for socio-economic progress throughout the land and they, too, are included.
In time, adoption of the above goals in developing countries will start to lead to higher living standards and to increased revenues being generated through taxation for investment in schools, hospitals, welfare and infrastructure. And the cost of implementing these reforms is minimal. So governments everywhere have absolutely no excuse for not carrying through these kind of constructive reforms and failure to do so should no longer be accepted by Western governments, international financial institutions and poverty campaigners.
Our world league table on governance, like the just1WORLD 'Table of Truth' (see 'Recommendations'), again uses the information contained in FOUR* respected international surveys. However, this time, we have given different weights to the four components in order to prioritise various aspects. Firstly, as mentioned above, if any government is serious about advancing the lives of its people that government must firstly deal with the evil of corruption. Next, taking a lead and working to create a robust economy must also be a priority.
Bearing this in mind we have given 'corruption perceptions' the highest weight and have multiplied each country's score in that discipline by 4; next, encouraging 'economic freedom' is also essential so we have multiplied this score by 3; political rights/civil liberties are also important and we times this score by 2 and media freedom we leave x 1. (with these weights in place the final score for each country is the average out of 10) So like all good tables ours has 4 legs!
WORLD GOVERNANCE TABLE
'THE MERITORIOUS, THE MODERATE, THE MEDIOCRE AND THE MONSTROUS'
The league table above indicates the current state of play regarding governance in all of the world's countries where scores range in 2019 from 8.75 down to 0.88. The average score of 5.31 in 2019, marginally up from 5.15 in 2002, shows that progress is slow and painful and falls far short of what should be expected. (Interestingly countries in the top decile have declined in the ratio of 9:1 2019/2002)
It also notable that only 107 out of 196 states score 5.0 or more which means that 89 governments are fundamentally failing, some grossly, their people.
Merit lies with the 16 countries scoring 8 or more and almost all of them are the usual suspects with New Zealand heading the list with 8.75/10.00 followed closely by Switzerland 8.65, Denmark 8.64 and Finland 8.60.
There are another 23 countries which score between 7 and 8 including Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Barbados, Micronesia, Bahamas, Antigua/Barbuda and Costa Rica. It is alsoencouraging to see here 4 former Communist countries - Estonia, Lithuania, Czech Republic and Slovenia - which have successfully made the transformation to social justice and market economies. Spain has now joined this group too!
It is also encouraging to find 5 African nations scoring between 6 and 7 - Mauritius, Botswana, Cape Verde, Seychelles and Namibia - although 3 of them are island nations which lie some way off the coast of Africa. But what is Italy 6.51 doing down here? However, Greece has now stepped up into this group with a score of 6.09 after 5.89 in 2017 and 5.61 in 2015.
Countries with scores between 5 and 6 include South Africa 5.73, Hungary 5.70, India 5.34 and Brazil 5.13.
Trawling below the halfway mark we find both China 3.77 and Russia 3.52 although both countries have improved their scores, 3.35 and 3.20 respectively, 2019/2015. But both countries can do better still.
18 nations (19 in 2017 and 23 in 2015) score 3 or less and they represent almost an underworld, where the lack of concern by governments perpetuates their people in poverty, conflict, misery and ignorance. Here, too, in this list of failed states, are to be found countries with a wealth of natural resources which are being continuously plundered by their rulers and western corporations. If the leaders of these countries were running for public office in the west they would have been voted out years ago.
In the case of Somalia this broken state has experimented with various presidents and prime ministers to try to put this clan-ridden country back together again but all have failed to deliver. An African Union peacekeeping force is employed here to tackle the scourge of al-Shabaab but again without much success. The situation vis-a-vis Greater Somalia, too, needs addressing. Somaliland in the north has shown itself an effective unit and should surely be granted nation status. Puntland, too, seems to be making something of itself and could be given recognition if requested. That leaves Somalia itself where warlords vie with each other for power and patronage and where unrest continually festers just below the surface. In such a situation perhaps Somalia should become a 'daughter state' of the United Nations with bureaucrats and administrators from outside of Africa, who know how to run a successful nation, brought in to share the reins of government. And they could be backed up by the current African Union troops which in turn should be bolstered by better weapons as well as advisers/instructors from western nations. Literally no expense should be spared here in the quest to forge peace. For in the words of former UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon 'missiles may kill terrorists. But I am convinced that good governance is what will kill terrorism.'
At the same time the Central African Republic and South Sudan are shattered by internal strife with refugees in large numbers fleeing to neighbouring countries. Here, too, the UN should consider adopting the same measures to ensure that displaced people can go home to rebuild lives safe in the knowledge that the UN is going to be there, both in a military and administrative capacity, for as long as it takes.
Overall, this league table helps explain exactly why the people of so many countries are today still living under feckless governments. For administrations in these poorly performing nations, whilst gorging themselves on state funds, seem anaesthetised to raising the bar in the areas of corruption and economic development which would help generate the necessary funds for infrastructure, education and welfare support. It can also be said that regimes here through nepotism - where family and friends are favoured for government positions - are not employing the brightest and best people at the top. And as long as this is the case the lack of progress in those two areas will always prevent solid and construtive advances.
At the same time, it is reprehensible for rich countries, international NGOs, poverty campaigners and bodies like the UN, World Bank and IMF not to challenge fourth-rate regimes in these vital areas in an attempt to finally try to Make Poverty History. And through this unforgiveable lack of action we in the West can be accused of being culpable of perpetuating people in penury and we all really ought to feel ashamed!
Asia:- JAPAN 7.76; Taiwan 7.58
Eastern Europe:- ESTONIA 8.02; Lithuania 7.34
South America:- URUGUAY 7.68; Chile 7.60
Central America:- COSTA RICA 6.88; Belize 6.12
Caribbean:- BAHAMAS 7.10, ANTIGUA/BARBUDA 7.10
Sub-Saharan Africa:- BOTSWANA 6.53; Namibia 6.13
Pacific:- MICRONESIA 7.09; Samoa 6.67
1. GEORGIA +2.13
4. Myanmar +1.59
7. Iraq +1.51
Most relapsed nations 2019/2002:-
1. VENEZUELA -2.29
4. Nicaragua -1.24
8. Thailand -1.14
Georgia was recently voted the No 1 economic reformer by the World Bank because in terms of the ease in doing business the country has improved from 112 to 18. In 2007 GDP per capita rose by 12%. As a result of a flat income tax rate introduced in 2004, budget revenues increased fourfold and a once large budget deficit turned into a surplus.
Then to put current leaders to the test:-
Most improved nations 2019/2017
1. Gambia 0.78
4. Angola 0.49
7. Oman 0.41
Most relapsed nations 2019/2017
1. Nicaragua -0.53
4. Haiti -0.34
7. Burundi -0.28
for POLITICAL RIGHTS/ CIVIL LIBERTIES we have used the 2 surveys produced under these headings by Freedom House and taken the average. They can be found at www.freedomhouse.org
for ECONOMIC FREEDOM we have used the annual guide published jointly by The Wall Street Journal and The Heritage Foundation, Washington's No 1 think tank. See http://www.heritage.org/index/ranking
for CORRUPTION PERCEPTIONS we have used the survey by Transparency International which is found at www.transparency.org
for MEDIA FREEDOM we have again used the survey found at www.freedomhouse.org