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:
- Undermining public trust, which can lead to violent movements for regime change;
- Driving the recruitment of extremists, who use corrupt governments as a rallying cry;
- Enabling terrorist groups, who can exploit corrupt structures for their operations;
- Facilitating proliferation of WMDs;
- Undermining state sovereignty, when foreign governments use opaque networks of shell companies to hold whole political classes hostage;
- Eroding state’s capabilities to respond to instability and violence when it occurs.
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:
- Address kleptocracy, or state capture, as a development, diplomatic and security issue, exerting political pressure on corrupt elites, supporting oversight institutions and focusing on improving governance in partner states.
- Focus on defence governance and avoid treating it as a “special case” that can circumvent normal oversight processes.
- Stop viewing corrupt autocrats as an alternative to instability and instead limit their influence through options such as financial sanctions, visa bans, and the withholding of international recognition.
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.”