Here’s an interesting twist on advocacy around anti-corruption: Global Integrity, which publishes the Global Integrity Report on governance and anti-corruption in 107 countries around the world, has stopped publishing its Global Integrity Index, which ranks countries according to their overall scores. While the report still contains quantitative data and qualitative reporting on the health of individual countries’ anti-corruption frameworks, the organization made a conscious decision to discontinue the index aspect of the report.
Why? Apparently, Global Integrity found that while the index generated good publicity for Global Integrity, it was less effective as an advocacy tool. (It also notes that it has scaled down the number of countries it covers, which gives the index less utility.) “Indices rarely change things,” notes Nathaniel Heller on the Global Integrity blog. “Country rankings are too blunt and generalized to be ‘actionable’ and inform real rebate and policy choices.”
This is clearly a debatable point, as Heller acknowledges. After all, other organizations, such as Transparency International and Freedom House, also publish well-known governance-related indices that attract attention to such issues as corruption, press freedom, and democratic governance. One wonders what their argument for continuing such indices might be.
While it may seem minor, the disappearance of the Global Integrity index speaks to both the difficulties of monitoring and evaluation, and the difficulties of effective advocacy around governance issues. It is extremely challenging to make the case for democratic governance – or even plain good enough governance – to the general public. Indices such as those run by the organizations mentioned here help reporters and the general public digest and easily assimilate information related to these topics. Moreover, such indices increasingly affect the work of international development institutions. Whether this is a good thing is another topic open to debate.
Global Integrity clearly feels that indices are not sufficient to lead to real change on anti-corruption. Perhaps what we can glean from this is the need to pair generalized advocacy – such as an index – with targeted advocacy based on a real understanding of stakeholders, obstacles, and coalitions. Here’s hoping others join and shed additional light on the to-index-or-not-to-index debate.
Photo Credit: Global Integrity