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Theme: Finance

The rise in global insecurity is pushing many US security partner countries to reignite or revise a familiar but risky approach to expanding national defence industrial capabilities. Sometimes referred to as ‘defence offsets’ or ‘industrial participation’, this approach requires foreign defence companies to invest in the local economies of countries as a condition for the purchase of major weapons systems. Defence offsets can benefit local defence industries, but they also contain many aspects that make them particularly vulnerable to corruption. US defence companies are rapidly responding to these partner demands with increasing US government support and within an incredibly lax US regulatory environment.

April 11, 2024 – New research from Transparency International warns that the United States is ignoring potentially dangerous corruption risks around opaque defence contract payments (aka ‘offsets’) that threaten to undermine U.S. and international security.

As the U.S. escalates its defence collaboration globally, Blissfully Blind breaks down the complex web of corruption risks associated with offsets – financial sweeteners added to overseas arms sales in addition to the military hardware the country receives.

Read the report

Offsets are increasingly common parts of international arms deals but the huge amounts of money involved combined with a lack of transparency, especially for offsets going to economic sectors outside defence, makes them especially vulnerable to corruption.

Defence companies are incentivised to offer big offset packages to secure lucrative deals. Foreign officials in importing countries may choose to buy from whichever firm they can personally gain the most, regardless of whether they offer best value for the people they represent.

 

Gary Kalman, Executive Director at Transparency International U.S. (TI-US), said:

“The culture of offsets in international arms sales may seem an odd practice to the public. Imagine the look you’d get from telling a car dealership that you’ll only buy a car from them if they help fund your child’s school.

“The corruption and other risks of these side deals are so great that, in most industries, the practice is banned. Yet, in the defence sector offsets are standard practice.

“At the very least, we need the type of transparency and accountability called for this in this report.”

 

Key Findings:

  • The global value of defence offsets is projected to reach $371 billion for the 2021-2025 period, with U.S. defence firms estimated to provide between $36.5 billion and $52.4 billion for FY 2021 and FY 2022 combined.
  • Among arms importing countries, Indonesia, Malaysia, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates, and the UK all face high or very high corruption risk due to a lack of transparency, support for risky types of investments, and weak monitoring or enforcement around offset contracts.
  • Other arms importing countries, including Australia, India, Israel, the Netherlands, Poland, South Korea, and Ukraine have specific high-risk aspects of their offset policies.
  • Corruption in defence offsets can undermine efforts to obtain critical defensive capabilities, waste government funds, complicate U.S. government and defence company relations with key security partners and weaken citizen faith in governments.
  • Meanwhile, U.S. defence companies show weak controls to prevent corruption in offsets. Many lack explicit policies and procedures to address the risks.
  • The U.S. government’s ‘hands-off’ approach to overseeing offsets effectively leaves defence firms to mark their own homework. Regulation of offset agreements by the Commerce Department is inadequate.

This report comes at a critical moment. There are increasing demands for offsets from purchasing countries and greater collaboration with countries like the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and Malaysia – all nations with minimal anti-corruption safeguards in their defence sectors. 

And in the U.S., there are now moves by Congress to further weaken the already lax checks on offset arrangements by significantly raising the dollar value of arms deals that require congressional review before they can go ahead.

 

Colby Goodman, Senior Researcher at Transparency International – Defence & Security and author of the report, said:

“A surge in demand for defence offsets, inadequate anti-corruption measures by U.S. defence companies, poor safeguards in many U.S. partner nations, and lenient oversight from Washington has created a perfect storm of corruption risks, which has the very real chance of undermining any public benefit of the offsets to the importing country.

“It’s essential that these corruption risks are confronted and mitigated, with responsibility falling on both the U.S. and importing countries to enact meaningful reforms.”

 

The report makes a series of targeted recommendations to the U.S. government that would enhance the oversight of defence offsets and significantly address corruption risks, while also ensuring U.S. defence firms do not face unnecessary barriers to their business with international partners:

  1. Increase transparency by strengthening reporting on defence offsets and political contributions. Prioritize detailed private disclosures through the State and Defence Departments and establish an interagency task force to improve overall private and public transparency.
  2. Assess corruption risks by taking a proactive approach to mitigate corruption risks in offsets by reviewing agreements and conducting comprehensive studies on past arrangements. A focus should be on indirect offsets (investments not directly related to the equipment being sold in the contract)  and partner country controls.
  3. Penalize wrongdoing by enhancing the investigation and prosecution of offset-related corruption, establishing watchlists for offenders, and enforcing strict penalties for non-compliance with reporting requirements.
  4. Encourage stronger foreign offset policies by urging U.S. partner countries to do the following: adopt transparent and effective offset policies, emphasize the disclosure of offset details similar to Australia, demand stricter oversight of high-risk activities, and ensure robust enforcement against violations.

 

Notes to editors:

Transparency International is a global network with chapters in more than 100 countries to end the injustices caused by corruption.

Blissfully Blind is a joint research report from Transparency International – Defence & Security, one of Transparency International’s global programs that works to reduce corruption in defence and security sectors worldwide, and Transparency International U.S.

The report was produced through a comprehensive approach that included reviewing U.S. defence offset laws and regulations, analysis of U.S. arms sales data and reports, and 30 interviews with industry experts, U.S. government officials, and representatives from partner countries such as India, Malaysia, and South Korea.

Defence offsets are side deals made between a purchasing government and a foreign defence company in connection with a major arms sale. They are an inducement offered by a defence company and/or a requirement by the purchasing government and would not exist without an arms sale. Offsets typically involve defence companies investing in the local defence industry or other economic sectors in the purchasing country. Offsets can be direct, that is tied to the specific equipment or service sold, or indirect, a broad investment unrelated to a specific contract.

Transparency International Defence & Security’s (TI-DS) 2023-2025 Gender Mainstreaming Strategy aims to promote the capacity of the organisation to mainstream a gender perspective and move towards good and best practice approaches of gender-sensitivity and gender-responsiveness. Gender-sensitivity ensures that TI-DS programmes, projects and activities reduce the risk of harms to partners and participants and reduces risks of reproducing gender inequalities. Gender-responsiveness is more of a pro-active effort to challenge harmful gender norms at the root of corruption and its impacts. Both approaches require attention to gender at every stage of programme cycles, from deign to implementation and monitoring, evaluation and learning.

By Patrick Kwasi Brobbey (Research Project Manager), Léa Clamadieu and Irasema Guzman Orozco (Research Project Officers) 

 

Corruption in defence and security heightens conflict risks, wastes public resources, and exacerbates human insecurity. It is crucial to recognise the gravity of corruption in the defence and security sector and develop institutional safeguards against it. Against this backdrop, Transparency International – Defence & Security (TI-DS) is launching the 2025 Government Defence Integrity Index (GDI) – the premier global measure of institutional resilience to corruption in the defence and security sector. This blog outlines what the GDI entails, its relevance, how it is produced, and essential information about the launch.   

What is the GDI? 

The GDI analyses institutional and informal controls to manage the risk of corruption in public defence and security establishments. The index focuses on five broad risk areas of defence: policymaking, finances, personnel management, operations, and procurement. To provide a broad and comprehensive reflection of these risk areas, the GDI assesses both legal frameworks and their implementation, as well as resources and outcomes. 

Because of its focus, the index provides a framework of good practice that promotes accountable, transparent, and responsible governance in national defence establishments. The GDI is a critical tool in driving global defence reform and improving defence governance.  

Previously dubbed the Government Defence Anti-corruption Index, the GDI was first released in 2013. Updated results were published in 2015, before the index went a major overhaul in 2020.  The project now runs in a five-year cycle, so the new iteration will be published in 2025.  

Gender: A New Dimension of the GDI 

For the first time, the GDI will incorporate a gender approach. The 2024-2026 TI-DS Strategy acknowledges that corruption in the defence sector involves gendered power dynamics that produce different impacts, perceptions, risks, forms of corruption, and experiences for diverse groups of women, men, girls, boys, and sexual and gender minorities. In alignment with the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda, many defence and security institutions now recognise gender. Nevertheless, their efforts mainly focus on achieving gender balance, mainstreaming, and representation. There is a lack of visibility on gendered corruption risks in the defence and security policy agenda, as anti-corruption measures and gender concerns are often addressed separately. 

Consistent with our commitment to addressing this, the 2025 GDI adopts a gender perspective to assess the gender dimensions of corruption risks in this sector. For this iteration, gender indicators have been developed and will be piloted. The gendered corruption risk indicators cover four cross-cutting themes: legal and normative commitments, gender balance strategies, gender mainstreaming strategies, and prevention and response to gender-based violence.  

Integrating gender into corruption risk assessments like the GDI can help produce gendered anti-corruption interventions that recalibrate uneven power relations affecting people of diverse genders and minority groups. Additionally, it will help to identify evidence-based best practices in the gender, anti-corruption, and security space. 

Why is the GDI important? 

The GDI offers an evidence-based approach which emphasises that better institutional controls reduce the risk of corruption. It constitutes a comprehensive assessment of integrity matters in the defence sector and plays a crucial role in driving global defence reform, thereby improving defence governance. 

The relevance of the index is enshrined in the rationale for creating it. The GDI recognises that:  

  • Corruption within the defence and security sector impede states’ ability to defend themselves and provide the needed security for their citizens. For instance, in Iraq in 2014, 50,000 ‘ghost soldiers’ were found in the budget – soldiers that existed only on paper and whose salaries were stolen by senior or high-ranking officers. The Iraqi forces were left depleted, unprepared to face real threats and unable to protect citizens and provide national security.
  • The secrecy of the defence sector contributes to the wastage of resources and the weakening of public institutions, facilitating the personalisation/privatisation of public resources for private gains via defence establishments. According to the 2020 GDI, 37% of states in the index had limited to no transparency on procurements.
  • Efficacious public institutions and informal mechanisms are central in preventing the wastage of state funds, the misappropriation of power, and the development of graft in the defence and security sector. In 2023, it was revealed that the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence was planning to overpay suppliers for food intended for troops. This led to official investigations and ultimately saw the auditions in the Ukrainian parliament pass legislation that enhances transparency in defence procurement.

These examples underscore the importance and timeliness of the GDI in rooting out corruption in national defence and security sectors. 

How is the GDI created? 

The GDI consists of questions broken down into indicators spanning the five corruption risks. These serve as the basis of data collection in countries carefully selected using the TI-DS selection criteria, which predominantly centre on the susceptibility of a country’s defence institutions to corruption. These countries will be drawn from the following TI regions: sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East and North Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia Pacific and South Asia, and Western Europe and North America.  

TI-DS uses a rigorous methodology consisting of an independent Country Assessor conducting research and providing an original, context-specific data that is accurate and verifiable. The data are then first extensively reviewed by a TI-DS team of topical and methodology experts before being sent to external reviewers (specifically, peer reviewers and relevant TI national chapters and governments) for additional quality checks. As part of its commitment to transparency, TI-DS has published the GDI Methods Paper that outlines the methodological and analytical considerations and choices . 

Overview of the Launch 

The 2025 GDI research project, which will be conducted in six waves representing the TI regions, began on Tuesday 26 March 2023. A webinar was organised for TI national chapters whose countries are in the first wave. This information session ensured mutual learning between TI-DS and the chapters. Other webinars will be organised later for chapters whose countries are in the subsequent waves. 

TI-DS has secured ample funding for the sub-Saharan African wave of the 2025 GDI. However, as the GDI is of utmost importance and requires timely execution, we are working towards securing additional funding to cover the administrative and operational costs of the remaining five waves. TI-DS invites the stakeholders to get in touch via gdi@transparency.org to help support the remaining waves. Thank you. 

March 28, 2024 – Transparency International – Defence & Security (TI-DS) is excited to announce the start of work on the next iteration of the Government Defence Integrity Index (GDI), the leading global benchmark of corruption risks in the defence and security sector.  

The GDI 2025 is TI-DS’s flagship research product and follows on from the GDI 2020. This latest iteration includes expert assessments of around 90 countries as well as the introduction of a gender perspective, recognising the nuanced impacts of corruption across different gender and underrepresented groups. 

The GDI provides a framework of good practice that promotes accountable, transparent, and responsible governance in the defence & security sector. It is a useful tool for civil society to collaborate with Ministries of Defence, the armed forces, and with oversight institutions, to build their capacity in advocating for transparency and integrity. 

Countries are evaluated by independent assessors who assess the strength of anti-corruption safeguards and institutional resilience to corruption in five key areas: 

  1. Financial: includes strength of safeguards around military asset disposals, whether a country allows military-owned businesses, and whether the full extent of military spending is publicly disclosed.  
  2. Operational: includes corruption risk in a country’s military deployments overseas and the use of private security companies.  
  3. Personnel: includes how resilient defence sector payroll, promotions and appointments are to corruption, and the strength of safeguards against corruption to avoid conscription or recruitment. 
  4. Political: includes transparency over defence & security policy, openness in defence budgets, and strength of anti-corruption checks surrounding arms exports. 
  5. Procurement: includes corruption risk around tenders and how contracts are awarded, the use of agents/brokers as middlemen in procurement, and assessment of how vulnerable a country is to corruption in offset contracts.  

These independent assessments go through multiple layers of expert review before each country is assigned an overall score and rank. This makes the GDI extremely rigorous in its methodology.  

The amount of work required to produce the GDI means the new country results will be released in six waves: 

  • Sub-Saharan Africa 
  • Middle East and North Africa 
  • Central and Eastern Europe 
  • Latin America 
  • Asia Pacific and South Asia 
  • Western Europe and North America 

The first wave is provisionally due to be published in early 2025.  

 

Notes: 

The GDI was previously known as the Government Defence Anti-Corruption Index (GI), with results published in 2013 and 2015. The Index underwent a major update for the 2020 version, including changes to the methodology and scoring underpinning the project. The 2025 results can be compared with those from 2020 to get a picture of global trends in defence governance, and which countries are improving. 

The GDI is a corruption risk assessment of the defence and security sector within a country, which assesses the quality of mechanisms used to manage corruption risk –and evaluating the factors that are understood to facilitate corruption. 

It is not a measurement of corruption and does not measure the amount of funds that are lost to corruption, identify corrupt actors, or estimate the perceptions of corruption in the defence & security sectors by the public. 

TI-DS has secured funding for the sub-Saharan African wave and is working towards securing additional support to cover the costs of producing the remaining five waves. We invite all stakeholders, including public agencies, multilateral organisations and INGOs, to get in touch via gdi@transparency.org to help support the remaining waves.

March 6, 2024 – Following the acquittal of two men charged with paying bribes to secure and maintain a major multi-billion-pound defence contract with Saudi Arabia, a full independent inquiry is now vital in order to examine the evidence presented in court of the British government’s direct involvement in these corrupt arms deals.  

Despite it being accepted that millions of pounds of bribes were paid to senior Saudi officials in exchange for lucrative deals to supply military communications equipment between 2007 and 2012, the two former executives of GPT Special Project Management were today found not guilty of corruption after being prosecuted for overseeing these payments. 

The two men had argued that British officials, politicians and diplomats knew about and consented to nearly £60 million worth of bribes to the Gulf state since 1978.  

It is reasonable to assume that, in deciding to acquit these men, the jury gave serious weight to the significance of the evidence that was presented in court of the UK government’s involvement in the alleged bribes. 

 

Josie Stewart, Director of Transparency International Defence & Security, said: 

“This case involves Europe’s largest defence manufacturer, senior members of the Saudi Royal Family, and allegations of high-level involvement by successive UK governments about systemic corruption that went on for decades. The details that emerged in court wouldn’t look out of place in a Hollywood screenplay but sadly the reality surpasses fiction.  

“Ian Foxley, the whistleblower who lifted the original lid, had no idea at the time how far the rot would go. Thanks to the court monitoring work of our partners at Spotlight on Corruption, we now have a good idea: it went far, and it went high. We now need to know how far, and how high.”  

 

The case raises serious questions over whether any of the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) procurement staff queried the corrupt payments. If not, then why not? If so, then to what level and who authorised their continuity? And, who within the MoD authorised the decision to continue opaque payments that may have benefitted Saudi government officials after the case was under investigation? 

Transparency International Defence & Security joins Spotlight on Corruption’s urgent call for a transparent, independent judge-led inquiry into the full nature and extent of the UK government’s knowledge of and involvement in these defence contract payments made to Saudi Arabia.  

This inquiry must consider whether ongoing contractual arrangements are still at risk of corruption, what measures the MoD is putting in place to prevent this, and the adequacy of the MoD’s measures to protect and enable whistleblowers to uncover corruption. A temporary halt should also be placed on any arms transfer licenses approved by the same officials during the period in question until evidence of responsible and corruption-free arms control systems can be provided. 

But this inquiry will not be enough, because this case is not an isolated incident. Enormous budgets, close political ties, and high levels of secrecy make the defence and security sectors fertile ground for hidden payments, undue influence, bribery, and corruption.  

It’s imperative that we restore integrity to the arms trade in order to rebuild trust in our institutions, safeguard the public interest, and strengthen global security. 

As this case shows, the UK, and governments in all arms-supplier countries, must take action to integrate heightened anti-corruption standards into arms transfers. The current controls are clearly not up to the task. They need strengthening with:  

  • Increased investment in proactive measures to detect corruption risks in arms transfers, including during the arms deal and licensing processes.  
  • Development of arms transfer policies that recognise corruption as a significant risk and establish procedures for investigation and mitigation;  
  • Comprehensive disclosure of all intermediaries, subcontractors, and service providers involved, and independent monitoring of all defence sector contracts in which official support is sought or given;  
  • Verification of recipient countries’ anti-corruption systems and inclusion of this verification as criteria in arms transfer/license decision-making; and 
  • Commitment to share information on corrupt recipient(s) to other arms supplier states.

February 16, 2024 – Transparency International is to shed light on a critical yet overlooked threat at this year’s Munich Security Conference: the use of ‘strategic corruption’ as a covert geopolitical weapon. 

Our panel, on February 16 at 3.30-4.15pm CET, jointly hosted with the Basel Institute on Governance, will explore how ‘strategic corruption’ is a weapon wielded by states to further geopolitical aims and poses a grave threat to international peace and security. This insidious form of corruption goes beyond traditional corrupt practices like bribery and embezzlement and involves sophisticated schemes designed to destabilise and manipulate states from within. 

Transparency International Defence & Security welcome the focus on corruption high on the agenda at Munich.Corruption is an existential threat to states and societies and a critical barrier to the protection of individuals. It is behind every pressing security issue facing the world today. 

The implications of corruption within defence and security sectors are especially profound. These sectors involve huge amounts of money and high levels of secrecy are particularly susceptible to corruption.  

We are calling for governments to: 

  • Recognise the role of corruption as a consistent threat behind all of the security risks assessed in the Munich Security Index and the Munich Security Report. Acknowledge that corruption deepens all inequalities within and between states, which drive current conflicts and geopolitical tensions. 
  • Address corruption as a security threat by integrating anti-corruption measures as a priority in all defence and security policies and practices. Recognise long-term insecurity and inequalities, driven by corruption, as the consequence of short-term payoffs in defence and security decision-making.  
  • Introduce robust anti-corruption controls for arms transfers, including corruption risk assessment and mitigation,and making sure recipient countries have strong anti-corruption governance. Governments should also actively work on finding and addressing the risks of corruption leading to arms being diverted. 

Make transparency the norm in defence and security, granting access to information as the rule and restricting it on national security grounds as the exception. 

 

 

Notes to editors:  

The Corruption panel will take place on February 16, at 3.30-4.15pm CET (GMT +1) 

It will feature President Arévalo from Guatemala, Prime Minister Denkov from Bulgaria, Transparency International Global Vice Chair Ketakandriana (Ke) Rafitoson and US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. 

It will be live streamed on the MSC website.

February 15, 2024 – As African leaders gather in Addis Ababa for the 2024 African Union (AU) Summit, the urgent agenda of addressing peace and security takes centre stage.

While ensuring the safety of citizens remains the primary obligation of governments, many African countries grapple with persistent conflicts and an alarming recurrence of coups. Internal conflicts, often fuelled by the illicit arms trade and the unlawful exploitation of natural resources, has threatened the stability of several countries on the continent.

Corruption has served as a catalyst for conflicts in Burkina Faso, Sudan, Mali, Nigeria and the Central African Republic, which has poured fuel on the flames of grievances against political leaders and incited violent upheavals.

By eroding public trust and undermining the effectiveness of defence and security institutions, corruption has eroded the rule of law and perpetuated instability. This has led to diminished access to essential services for many and fostered environments conducive to human rights abuses. There is a pressing need to recognise corruption as a security threat in itself and prioritise anti-corruption efforts within security sector reform and governance (SSR/G).

It is imperative that AU members unite in addressing corruption within defence and security sectors as a crucial step toward achieving conflict resolution, peace, stability, and security goals.

Transparency International Defence & Security calls on states to:

  • Recognise corruption in defence as a security threat: Governments must acknowledge the threat of corruption to national security and allocate resources accordingly.
  • Empower civilian oversight: Governments should encourage active citizen participation in oversight to enhance transparency and accountability.
  • Integrate anti-corruption in peace efforts and SSR: Embed anti-corruption measures into conflict resolution, peacebuilding and security sector reform agendas for more resilient societies.

Peace and stability in Africa and around the world cannot be safeguarded without making the efforts to address the insidious threat of corruption proportionate to the threat which it represents.

Josie Stewart, head of Transparency International Defence & Security, reflects on a busy week at the Tenth session of the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption in Atlanta.

 

The 10th session of the Conference of the States Parties (CoSP) to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) showed two things very clearly: the fight against corruption is receiving more attention than ever – but that attention has not yet translated into enough action, especially in defence and security.

Let’s start with the good news. The past week, I and more than 1,000 others spent six days running around a bustling conference centre in Atlanta, USA. Countries sent large delegations, and negotiations continued late into the nights. Unlike previous CoSPs, the 10th session saw significant attendance from global civil society, ensuring transparency and meaningful engagement.

And there is more good news. Thanks in part to the host country’s leadership, we saw corruption recognised as the security threat that it is. During the two days of opening remarks from participants, speaker after speaker acknowledged the impact that corruption has on stability, peace, and security, and I also had the pleasure of taking part in a panel discussion on this topic. We hope to see this sentiment reflected in the flagship resolution of the CoSP, the Atlanta Declaration, once it is published.

But here come the caveats. We all spent a lot of time admiring the problem, rehashing time and again the fact that corruption is bad, and there was a lot of preaching to the choir. Even in the many policy discussions and panel events that took place alongside the formal negotiations, where there was markedly little challenge, new thinking that could really push the anti-corruption agenda forward, or focus on concrete actions that could and should be advanced.

Without concrete actions, acknowledgement of corruption as a security threat remains just the first step to addressing it. And at CoSP10, the international anti-corruption community was a long way short of real action when it comes to addressing corruption in defence and security.

I’ve seen the effects of this first hand – and they are devastating.

During my time leading the UK Government’s anti-corruption agenda in Afghanistan, I witnessed the devastating effects of neglecting corruption. The failure to prioritize combating corruption led to the disintegration of the Afghan national defence forces as the Taliban advanced. In South Sudan, while working on defence governance reform, I saw how accountability and transparency were sidelined, allowing corruption in the military to fester.

Corruption is about money and power, and there’s an abundance of both in defence and security. Yet anti-corruption policy communities rarely have meaningful engagement with national security and defence policy communities. Until this week, there was no discussion about defence and security at the UNCAC CoSP

So now the words are there at least, what needs to be done?

We’re challenging states to examine how well their anti-corruption efforts are identifying and taking on the tough political choices that are needed in order to address corruption as a security threat, and we’re challenging states to focus on addressing corruption within their defence and security sectors as a critical aspect of their wider anti-corruption agendas. We want an agreed resolution on this in two years’ time, when the next UNCAC CoSP takes place.

We need to call corruption in defence and security by its name: a threat to human, national and international security. These words are now being spoken by many, but getting from words to actions, from acknowledgements to clear commitments, is the next challenge, and it is a challenge that we are committed to meet head on.

December 5, 2023 – Four of the world’s 10 biggest arms producers listed in new research from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) show a concerning lack of commitment to anti-corruption, Transparency International Defence & Security said today.

SIPRI’s 2022 Arms Industry Database lists the top 100 arms-producing and military services companies.  Four of the top 10 score either an E or F Transparency International’s Defence Companies Index (DCI), which assesses and ranks major global defence companies based on their commitment to anti-corruption and transparency.

In the top four, SIPRI’s data shows General Dynamics (US), NORINCO and AVIC (China), and Rostec (Russia), collectively responsible for $876 billion in global arms trade last year. All scored poorly in the DCI, indicating a minimal or extremely poor commitment to anti-corruption.

The problem extends beyond these firms, with dozens of other companies in the top 100 assessed by the DCI to show poor or non-existent commitment to anti-corruption.

This is alarming given SIPRI’s data on the increasing demand for arms and military services globally. Corruption in the arms trade can have devastating impacts on people’s lives, leading to heightened conflict and violence, undermining governance and the rule of law, diverting resources from essential public services, and eroding trust in institutions.

 

Josie Stewart, Programme Director at Transparency International Defence & Security, said:

“The latest SIPRI report, when combined with our previous research on arms producers’ commitment to anti-corruption, paints a troubling picture. Far too many of the world’s biggest arms producers are falling short in addressing corruption risks.

“This should urgently motivate governments and the international community to prioritise addressing these issues in the defence and security sectors.

“As demand for arms and military services grows, it’s crucial to ensure that anti-corruption standards remain a forefront consideration, not secondary to trade, foreign, and defence policy objectives. The cost of neglecting integrity and transparency in these sectors is too great to ignore.”

 

 

Notes to editors:

Transparency International is a global movement that combats corruption and promotes transparency, accountability, and integrity in government, politics, and business worldwide.

Transparency International – Defence & Security is one of Transparency International’s global programmes and is committed to tackling corruption in the global defence and security sector.

The Defence Companies Index on Anti-Corruption and Corporate Transparency (DCI) assesses the levels of public commitment to anti-corruption and transparency in the corporate policies and procedures of 134 of the world’s largest defence companies. By analysing what companies are publicly committing to in terms of their openness, policies and procedures, the DCI seeks to inspire reform in the defence sector, thereby reducing corruption and its impact.

Responding to fresh data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) demonstrating record global military spending, Transparency International Defence and Security Director, Josie Stewart, said:

New SIPRI data has revealed that the total global military expenditure increased by 3.7 per cent in real terms in 2022, reaching a new high of $2240 billion.

This increase in spending – coupled with our Government Defence Integrity index’s finding that nearly two-thirds of countries face a high to critical risk of corruption in their defence and security sectors – should be cause for concern for governments around the world.

To ensure that military expenditure is contributing to security rather than corruption and abuse, governments should strengthen transparency, accountability, and oversight in the defence sector, providing for adequate scrutiny from lawmakers, auditors, and civil society.

Transparency is the best way for states to ensure that military spending is used effectively to enhance security.

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As the Munich Security Conference begins today, Josie Stewart, Director of Transparency International Defence and Security, said:

“If Russia’s war in Ukraine has taught us anything, it should be that raising the stakes in the fight against corruption should be high on the agenda at the Munich Security Conference (MSC).

“Energy supply disruptions, Russia, and an economic or financial crisis have been flagged as the top three security risks for leading democracies in 2023. But almost a year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, we can expect the MSC, beginning today, to shift its focus back to traditional concepts of security and defence.

“In this context, it has never been more important for leading democracies to take on the fight against corruption as a global security imperative. If the enemy of democracy is corruption, the Western military industry needs to cleanse itself at home before fighting it abroad.

“We look forward to hearing the outcomes of a panel discussion at the MSC organised by Transparency International and the Basel Institute on Governance.”