The Tunisian anti-corruption landscape has developed significantly since 2011. Tunis has created anti-corruption institutions, issued stronger legislation on public access to information and protection of whistle-blowers, and proposed legislation on declaring assets and probing illicit enrichment. This marks positive progress that should be both applauded and capitalised upon.
Yet the defence sector – which generally enjoys strong public trust – has not received the same scrutiny. Research indicates that it is often exempted, on the basis of national security, from significant reform. Tunisian defence spending has been rising, with an increase in expenditure of almost 64% from 2011 to 2016. But transparency and integrity structures have not kept pace. This presents an urgent challenge. Secrecy and weak oversight are the breeding ground of corruption. And corruption undermines defence institutions, reducing their capability to respond to threats, and leads to wasteful spending. With a national emergency declared and rising defence spending, strengthening defence integrity and tackling weaknesses leading to corruption should be a priority for the Tunisian government.