The illegal trade between government-controlled Ukraine and the occupied territories in Donbas is conducted systematically, facilitated by Ukrainian defense and security institutions, according to new research. The illegal trade undermines defence capacity, and damages Ukraine’s economy and reputation. And it is so lucrative that those involved have an interest in sustaining the conflict, potentially prolonging the war.
The research, Crossing the line: how the illegal trade with occupied Donbas has undermined defence integrity, was completed by the Independent Defence Anti-Corruption Committee (NAKO), and is based on 40 interviews with ATO participants, security force representatives, civil society, judges, and residents of Donbas.
The government has taken steps to address the problem of illegal trade; in March 2017, the government banned the transport of all goods through the contact line except personal belongings and humanitarian aid. The government has also created “joint mobile groups” made up of servicemen and volunteers, and “fiscal groups,” of State Border Guard Service and State Fiscal Service officers. But these actions have not been effective in reducing the trade.
Olena Tregub, Secretary General of NAKO, said Tuesday:
“The illegal trade incentivizes conflict, and means that some profit as others suffer. When some servicemen collude with militants to facilitate trade, it has a huge impact on coordination between units and security institutions, the accuracy of our intelligence, the reputation of our forces, and has even caused the death of troops.”
The report describes 5 ways that goods are moved illegally across the contact line: 1) by car, through checkpoints 2) through humanitarian logistics centers, initially organised to enable retail trade 3) through railway corridors, by using the double bottom of the wagons or in undeclared additional wagons 4) by paying defence and security forces to enable movement outside of formal checkpoints, in the “gray zone,” in 2015 the payment for crossing all the checkpoints could vary from 25,000- 120,000 UAH (US $930-4,450); 5) through a process known as “terminated transit,” in which goods headed for the occupied territories are falsely registered as destined for Russia; once in Russia, they enter the occupied territories through the uncontrolled parts of the Ukraine-Russia border.
According to the analysis, this lucrative trade will not be completely halted as long as the occupation continues. It finds that current efforts, including the blockade, have been ineffective in stopping the movement of goods. The report makes a series of recommendations, including immediate steps to mitigate the problem short-term, and long-term solutions.
TI Defence & Security
5th September, 2017, London – Corruption is perpetuating violent conflicts around the world. New research from Transparency International – Defence and Security found that fighting corruption is rarely a foreign policy priority, despite mounting evidence it’s a major 21st-century contributor to global insecurity.
“The Fifth Column”, published today, found that states most affected by corruption are very often victims of deep conflict. Seven of the ten lowest-scoring countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index were also amongst the ten least peaceful countries in the most recent Global Peace Index.
Corruption was found to be contributing to violent conflict in a number of ways, including:
By failing to address these risks, governments are ignoring a major cause of conflict. Transparency International recommends corruption is treated as a serious foreign policy concern and that states should:
Katherine Dixon, Director Transparency International Defence and Security, said:
“Its high time that states made corruption a top-tier foreign policy priority, as important as non-proliferation and counter terrorism efforts. Until they do that, efforts to end conflict, promote global peace and stability, will be falling short of the mark.”
“Corrupt regimes are unstable and dangerous, and supporting them is rarely the right choice for building stability either nationally or regionally. From Syria to Ukraine, corruption has fuelled conflicts, undermining the long-term future of those states and contributing to the loss of many lives.”
TI Defence & Security
On Thursday, Transparency International Senior Advisor Sir Ian Andrews, and Defence and Security Director Katherine Dixon facilitated a day of high level discussions with the leadership of the Nigerian Air Force. The aim was to identify the corruption risks which face the Nigerian armed forces, discuss the initiatives already taken, and to begin to develop mechanisms to address them.
Sessions included a full discussion of the challenges facing the Air Force including issues surrounding defence budget processes, personnel integrity, and procurement systems. TI facilitators presented lessons from international best practice, including the vital role of political leadership, a commitment to transparency, and external independent oversight mechanisms which had been crucial factors underpinning successful defence transformations in other context, such as Colombia.
The entire leadership of the Air Force was present or represented, including the Chief of Air Staff, Air Officers Commanding and Branch Chiefs.
Katherine Dixon, Director Transparency International Defence and Security, said:
“We welcome the positive participation of the Air Force. The purpose of the event was to create a forum for the leadership to discuss openly the corruption risks as they see them. The Nigerian Air Force outlined the steps they had taken to address these challenges and we strongly encouraged them to end the presumption towards secrecy and open these measures up to public scrutiny.”
Transparency International has outlined a number of recommendations for systemic reform of the Nigerian Defence sector including the development of unified anti-corruption strategy, extending public access defence and security information, and strengthening external oversight particularly over confidential procurements.
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4th August 2017. The Ukrainian MoD’s Medical Department invited NGOs and volunteer organizations to help develop new technical requirements for individual first-aid kits used at the frontline of military operations. Experts from the Independent Anti-Corruption Committee on Defense (NAKO), a joint initiative of TI Ukraine and TI Defence & Security, took part in their development, providing input on how to reduce corruption risk. The MOD granted final approval for the technical requirements last week, and Ukrainian servicemen should receive their new first-aid kits this autumn.
The need to develop new technical requirements arose as military and volunteers repeatedly complained about the poor quality of individual first-aid kits (IFAKs) used at the front. Previous IFAK components had been approved in February 2015. However, the list of components for the first-aid kit was less comprehensive, and the standards lower, than those used in NATO countries. In addition, the IFAK technical requirements were often developed by the IFAK manufacturers themselves, meaning that they could shape the MOD’s procurement requirements to suit what they could provide. The new specifications allow the MoD to require manufacturers to ensure each component of the kit is of the highest standard of quality.
The MoD began work on creating new technical requirements for IFAKs in September 2016. Initially, the key stakeholders in the process were representatives of the Ministry of Defense and Ukrainian manufacturing companies, but this approach created significant corruption risks.
But in April 2017, the MOD changed its approach, creating a separate working group in order to minimise the influence of pharmaceutical companies and to avoid corruption risks. This new working group created by the Ministry of Defence included leading medical experts, NGO representatives and volunteer organisations, as well as NAKO experts. This group of experts have worked together alongside the MOD to improve the technical requirements of the first-aid kits to match the NATO standards.
“We insisted on minimising corruption risks. Previously, there was a risk that the specifications would match the preferences of a particular manufacturer, rather than respond to real frontline needs,” said Taras Yemchura, a NAKO researcher. “This could also lead to discrimination against particular participants in the procurement process. For example, we pushed for the abolition of unlawful requirements for special markings on the product packaging, which does not actually affect the quality of the goods, but significantly reduces the range of potential suppliers.”
In the future, NAKO intends to continue monitoring the process of IFAK purchasing, scrutinising the formation of lots, bidding, contracting, and quality control.
The committee is convinced that the active participation of independent experts and high-quality public monitoring of each procurement stage will help counteract corruption risks in the procurement of first-aid kits, decrease the risk of poor-quality goods being supplied, and will help save the lives of soldiers who fight in the Donbass.
The Independent Defense Anti–Corruption Committee (NAKO) is a joint initiative established by Ukrainian public activists, journalists and international experts to fight corruption in Ukraine’s security and defense sector. NAKO is a joint international project of Transparency International Defense & Security and Transparency International Ukraine, supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.
TI Defence & Security
May 24 2017 | Kyiv
International security assistance to Ukraine is not always used effectively, according to new research on corruption risks in security assistance by the Independent Defence Anti-Corruption Committee. The report identifies improvements in how assistance is monitored, but calls for improved regulation and oversight of security assistance, and greater transparency of key strategic planning documents like the State Defense Order and defence budget. The report also called on donor countries to use international aid as a leverage to push for systemic anti-corruption reform in the Ukrainian defense sector.
Corruption in Nigerian defence sector benefitting Boko Haram
18th May, London – Deep-rooted corruption in the defence sector is crippling the Nigerian military in the fight against Boko Haram, according to a new report by Transparency International. To effectively combat Boko Haram, Nigeria’s international partners must build anti-corruption measures into all defence deals.
Increase transparency in the security sector to defeat corruption.
18th May, Abuja – An opaque and secretive security sector will jeopardize President Buhari’s ambitious anti-corruption drive and is derailing the fight against Boko Haram, according to a new report by Transparency International.
25th April 2017, London – New bi-partisan legislation to treat international corruption as a national security threat is a vital development following the February repeal of Section 1504 of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act.
The Combating Global Corruption Act of 2017, introduced by US Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) with support from Feinstein, Rubio, Blumenthal, Collins, Merkley, Booker, and Leahy requires the State Department publish an annual report on the state of corruption worldwide. It provides that national anti-corruption programs be ranked according to a three-tiered ranking system and, crucially, requires that US agencies (Department of State, Department of Defense, USAID) pursue specific transparency and accountability measures where national efforts are considered insufficient.
Katherine Dixon, Director Transparency Defence and Security, said:
“The link between corruption and development is simple: corrupt leaders that siphon state funds and resources away from vulnerable populations bring about weak states and public unrest, creating fertile ground for terrorists and organised crime.”
“The February repeal of Section 1504 was a step back for US anti-corruption efforts. But, with the Combatting Global Corruption Act, we have the chance to make some big moves forward. In evaluating how seriously countries take corruption on their home turf, the US has raised the spectre of global corruption and elevated it on the foreign policy agenda.”
TI added that the US must set the gold standard at home if it is to fight corruption elsewhere.
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21st February 2017, London – Western governments that ignore corruption are failing to address the root causes of violent extremist movements, such as ISIS, according to new research by Transparency International Defence and Security (TI-DS).