Plan Colombia – one of the largest security assistance programmes ever undertaken – is widely seen as successful. It helped construct modern, effective armed forces in Colombia capable of tackling the drug trafficking and insurgency threats. But what is usually overlooked is the link between the Plan and corruption issues: the impact that corruption had on the delivery and shape of the Plan, and the consequences the Plan had for manifestations of corruption in Colombia.
This paper traces the linkages between Plan Colombia and corrupt practices. We also track anti-corruption measures implemented by the donor and the recipient – both explicit and implicit within broader approaches – and their effects. Plan Colombia offers key lessons for mitigating the impact of corruption in security assistance programmes, including the use of conditionality; comprehensive investment in recipient institutional capacity; and the importance of host nation commitment and readiness to implement reforms.