Eurasia Group | Atlas of Impunity's second edition tracks abuse of power worldwide and includes historical data set

Atlas of Impunity's second edition tracks abuse of power worldwide and includes historical data set

Eurasia Group, Chicago Council
16 February 2024

Afghanistan, Myanmar, and Yemen feature the highest levels of impunity; Finland, Denmark, and Sweden have the lowest

Environmental abuse is an arena where impunity continues to thrive even within otherwise accountable societies

As the biggest global election year in history unfolds, understanding the challenges in holding power accountable is more crucial than ever—especially given growing digital impunity risk

Munich, 16 February 2024—Eurasia Group and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs released the second edition of the Atlas of Impunity today at the Munich Security Conference. The Atlas is the first-ever comprehensive index tracking the abuse of power across five key dimensions: unaccountable governance, abuse of human rights, conflict, economic exploitation, and environmental degradation.

The Atlas defines impunity as the exercise of power without accountability, built on 66 statistical indicators drawn from 26 validated sources. The data underpinning the Atlas is curated from universal, independent, and credible sources with annually updated statistics.

Afghanistan is the worst performer in this edition of the Atlas, while Finland shows the lowest degree of impunity, with Morocco and Bolivia at the median of the 170 countries ranked.

Rather than pitting democracies against autocracies, the Atlas of Impunity uses the analytical framing of impunity versus accountability, which is nuanced and comprehensive enough to capture the multidimensional and interconnected nature of global challenges. This lens also highlights how impunity undermines democratic societies and accountability manifests in nondemocratic systems. Variations in impunity ultimately come down to politics, leadership, and policy choices.

In this second edition, the Atlas adds a decade of historical data, allowing for comparisons within countries and regions across years that illuminate where the battle between impunity and accountability is being won or lost. Over the last five years, the data shows the most improvement on average for Europe and Oceania, while North America and Latin America recorded the largest deterioration.

The global average scores on conflict and violence, abuse of human rights, and economic exploitation dimensions have fallen. This trend suggests an improvement in accountability in these areas despite violent conflict, whether domestic or interstate, affecting every global region. Meanwhile, the global average scores have risen for unaccountable governance and—to a greater degree—environmental degradation, both responsible for the greatest year-on-year changes to the global average score.

The report analyzes three major event-driven sources of impunity around the world. These include the war in Ukraine, which has contributed to some of the largest deteriorations in scores in recent years; Hamas's 7 October attacks on Israel and the subsequent war, which are not yet reflected in the data and will lead to a deterioration in scores in 2024; and the recent wave of coups in West Africa and the Sahel, which appear to be driven by high, pre-existing levels of impunity and are likely to lead to further deterioration.

Other major takeaways include:
  • The correlation between GDP and impunity yields interesting results. While higher income is associated with a stronger performance on the Atlas—for every 10% difference in GDP there is a 0.04 point difference on the Atlas scale—some advanced economies, such as the US with its 114th ranking, are outliers. While the legacies of colonialism, the slave trade, and active conflict are correlated with higher impunity scores, Gambia, Cape Verde, Timor-Leste, and Senegal are all low- or lower-middle-income democracies that score considerably better on the Atlas than their income alone would predict. 
  • The twenty countries near the median vary in terms of governance arrangements (ranging from absolute monarchy to liberal democracy) while income levels vary from low to high. A few countries ranking in this range include Nepal, Indonesia, Qatar, Ghana, Oman, and Jamaica. Variations in impunity ultimately come down to politics, leadership, and policy choices.
  • For the second year running, the data shows that environmental degradation is where impunity continues to thrive even among otherwise accountable societies. For instance, the US and Canada, score the worst on the environmental degradation dimension compared to their international peers.
  • Digital impunity, including the use of generative AI and surveillance tools, is on the rise. While new technologies can provide innovative tools to hold leaders to account, there is also a risk that they will be deployed for nefarious purposes, such as misinformation and social control, as a major election year unfolds.
  • Some countries have improved drastically in recent years, with Zambia, Thailand, and Malaysia advancing by more than ten places on the Atlas year-on-year in 2023. Similarly, Gambia and Saudi Arabia improved by 31 and 24 places respectively over the last five years. By contrast, Ukraine (as a result of Russia's invasion), Burkina Faso, and Tajikistan respectively regressed by 25, 14, and 12 places over the last year alone. Since 2018, Burkina Faso, Nicaragua, and Mali saw their positions deteriorate the most (by 37, 36, and 41 places, respectively).
  • The countries of greatest concern for 2024 include: the US, where the upcoming election not only has significant implications for governance, but where election-related unrest could weigh on 2024 scores; Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Azerbaijan, and Armenia; Niger, Gabon, and Senegal in the wake of coups; and Israel, where the full impact of the country's judicial reforms and its war with Hamas is not yet reflected in its impunity score.

Find the full report at

For requests on the index, methodology, or analysis contact Eurasia Group at [email protected].

Editor's note

The data used for this edition of the Atlas comes from sources published in 2023. This means that some events—especially in the latter part of 2023, including the Israel/Hamas conflict—are not captured in the data.
The Atlas scores more than 170 countries and territories on a 0-5 scale across the five dimensions of impunity. Higher overall scores denote greater impunity, with the Atlas ranking the worst performers at the top of the table. Twenty-six of the countries or territories do not have sufficient data for a full score.

The Atlas is chaired by an external, independent global advisory board composed of human rights experts and activists, former diplomats, and former government officials with a range of regional and policy perspectives. The Atlas was made possible through a grant from the Open Society Foundations.


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About the Chicago Council on Global Affairs

Founded in 1922, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing knowledge and engagement in global affairs. Our in-depth analysis and expert-led research influence policy conversations and inform the insights we share with our growing community. Through accessible content and open dialogue of diverse, fact-based perspectives, we empower more people to help shape our global future. Learn more at

About the Open Society Foundations

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