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Why It Matters



PUBLIC TRUST

Corruption erodes the public’s trust in the armed forces and, in some cases, the government as a whole. Fighting corruption helps militaries to keep the public’s trust where they have it, and build it where they don’t. Just one major scandal can deeply undermine the public’s perception of the armed forces, and it can take years to rebuild their reputation. Pervasive small-scale corruption—for instance, having to pay bribes to the police—affects the daily life of individuals and can build resentment in a population.

Pride of the civilian and military staff in their service is seriously degraded when the staff knows of corruption in their leadership. In some cases, a poor institutional reputation brought about by corruption can make it more difficult for defence and security establishments to recruit the best individuals, further harming the sectors’ capabilities and reputation. A lack of public trust in the armed forces and government may encourage ordinary people to look for other sources of protection— including patronage networks, tribal networks, organised crime, and even insurgencies.


GOVERNMENTAL INTEGRITY

The defence sector can act as a concentrator of corrupt behaviour in government. Funds can be siphoned from the sector by the ruling elite to finance election campaigns or for personal gain. In this way, corruption in the defence sector can keep a corrupt infrastructure of middlemen, accountants, and lawyers in business.

The government exists to serve its people, and defence and security establishments to protect them. When defence and security establishments are corrupt, the integrity of the government is undermined as leaders abuse the power entrusted in them for personal enrichment. The government loses legitimacy, public trust, and often fails to fulfill its primary aim. Because of the high importance of defence and security, corruption in this sector has a wide-ranging impact on the government as a whole.


ECONOMIC & SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

Corruption is costly and a waste of a country's scarce resources. Whether through artificially inflated defence budgets, unnecessary procurements, payment of 'ghost' soldiers, corrupt privatisations, or asset sales, corruption in the defence sector represents the theft of public money which could be invested in more socially productive initiatives, contributing to the economic and social development of the country.

Defence and security are often expensive areas of the national budget, even when they are conducted with integrity. Corruption in defence and security can be an extremely costly drain on the national budget. Government money lost through defence and security corruption means less money to spend on things like health, education, infrastructure, and development.


SECURITY & DEFENCE

Corruption can fatally undermine security strategies and has a dramatic impact on the operational effectiveness of the military. Corruption is a hindrance to security and anti-terrorism policies, even contributing to regional and international instability.

The risk of corruption is the risk of troops being ill-equipped, of higher flows of illicit arms/drugs/human trafficking, of information being misused by organised crime or terrorist organisations, of unnecessary and wasteful expenditures. There are a myriad ways in which corruption harms the operational effectiveness of the military and threatens national security.


PEACEMAKING & PEACEKEEPING

International peace-making efforts often focus on the requirements of the key parties, rather than setting out a roadmap towards stability and a functioning state. This sets the stage for corruption issues to fall by the wayside or be seen as a governance issue, when in reality, they are central to the conflict and its resolution.

A critical element in the conflict resolution and/or immediate post-conflict phase is the role of the military. Some analysts have suggested that in dealing with corruption and associated organised crime, peacekeeping operations may need to serve as a vehicle for the delivery of wider state functions, such as border enforcement and crime fighting; a co-ordination mechanism for other actors, and a focal point for longer-term capacity building. In these circumstances the defence and security sectors, police and judiciary need special attention. This is not solely due to their key role in delivering sustainable state institutions, but also because in many cases they are likely to be better resourced than many other areas of government.

Peace-making and peacekeeping operations can be hampered by corruption. Corrupt activities can fund insurgencies, fueling instability and endangering peacekeeping troops. Corrupt activities by peacekeeping forces destroy their legitimacy and limit the operation’s effectiveness.


EXAMPLES

  • UNODC study: Afghans paid USD 2.5 billions in bribes in a year
  • Uganda: Corruption fuels conflict & conflict fuels corruption
  • Corruption & conflict as a ticket for lucre
  • Sierra Leone: Getting anti-corruption right

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