Conflict & Insecurity

The goals of the Conflict and Insecurity Programme are to ensure that corruption is recognised as a threat to security and peace; to reduce corruption and increase accountability in defence establishments in a fragile and conflict affected states; and to advocate for interventions that encourage accountability and don’t contribute or sustain corruption.

Poverty, public disenfranchisement, and violent extremism flourish wherever government lines its pockets at the expense of providing basic services, kleptocratic elites limit the economic opportunities of ordinary people, or police orchestrate organised crime instead of tackling it. Corruption undermines democracy and strengthens extremist and organised crime groups, and leads to incapable, hollowed-out security forces. Most fragile and conflict states lack effective civil oversight of defence, and civil society and media freedom is often restricted. Public debate about security needs is limited, and citizens have little voice in decision-making about the defence and security forces that are intended to protect them.

Interventions with the best intentions risk furthering corruption and supporting corrupt elites. As we saw in interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq, pouring funds into weak institutions can sometimes do more harm than good. From the leadership level to troops on the ground, intervention forces often lack the tools and knowledge to deal with the complex and political challenges that corruption poses.


  • Getting corruption on the agenda of security policymakers

    There is an increasing awareness of the threat that corruption poses to stability and peace, but it is still not widely reflected in security policy. We are conducting research into how corruption and conflict are linked in order to inform security policy, and advocate for our recommendations to be taken up. For example, we have been working with NATO on its building integrity policy.

  • Country programmes

    We work with governments, civil society, and defence establishments in priority countries to develop programmes that address defence corruption that are tailored to the context. We work with defence establishments to support the creation of reform plans and assist with their implementation, including providing training and capacity building. We partner with those that can put pressure on defence establishments to change—civil society, parliamentarians, oversight bodies, donor states—to build their expertise, strengthen their capacity to push for anti-corruption reforms and by jointly advocating for reforms.

  • Improving international interventions

    Interventions often have good intentions, but can—and do—increase corruption and entrench kleptocratic leaders. We work to reduce corruption on international interventions and operations by ensuring that armed forces, civilian practitioners, and policymakers have the incentives, awareness, tools and training that they need to counter corruption.

Key Publications

Security assistance, corruption and fragile environments: Exploring the case of Mali 2001-2012

In this study Transparency International’s London-based Defence and Security Programme explores in some detail how security assistance programmes fared in an environment affected by [...]

Corruption: Lessons from the international mission in Afghanistan

This report assesses how the international mission in Afghanistan was put at risk due to complacency on corruption. The report examines how and why [...]

Corruption Threats & International Missions: Practical guidance for leaders

Corruption is a feature of all conflicts, playing a key role in the power-struggle between competing groups for resources and power. This places mission [...]

See all publications.