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Corruption Risks and Military Operations

Corruption and conflict are bedfellows and their coexistence feeds a vicious circle of violence and instability.  International military operations — from stabilisation missions and peace operations to security assistance —frequently take place in environments affected by corruption and conflict. Corruption can undermine the purpose of the mission, perpetuate insecurity, and cause misery for whole societies.

Presence of missions in conflict zones can have its own impact on the severity and prevalence of corruption. The influx of military, financial and political resources that comes with international military presence can be used to augment the influence of corrupt networks that benefit from conflict and undermine peace.  These networks and resources can strengthen adversaries and ultimately have dire consequences for the missions’ effectiveness and success.

Corruption in mission forces themselves – from diversion of resources into the black market and bribery in exchange for employment to abuse of civilians – compounds the problem. It exposes missions to reputational harm, wastes resources, and feeds into levels of corruption in the area of operations.

It is therefore imperative that armed forces are prepared to recognize and mitigate the extent, severity and impact of corrupt practices in operational theatres, to mitigate corruption risks in their own activities, and to work within wider anti-corruption measures.

To support efforts to mitigate corruption risks in military operations, we have developed the Interventions Anti-Corruption Guidance (IACG). The IACG provides guidance materials, tools, and resources that educate military personnel, civilian and military planners, and key defence decision-makers on how corruption can affect military operations and how they can address the risks that it poses. The IACG utilises lessons from previous military operations to provide users with practical guidance on how to identify corruption risks, how to mitigate them with effective anti-corruption measures, and how to develop an anti-corruption mitigation strategy to integrate into mission planning.

We use the IACG in our engagement with military bodies around the world.


Transparency International – Defence & Security have a strong and enduring relationship with NATO. We have contributed to NATO course development, the NATO Building Integrity Reference Curriculum, exercise planning and execution, and has begun to support active operations. Our core focus is on helping equip NATO bodies to recognise and address corruption risks in operational environments, and ensuring operational planning is undertaken with corruption mitigation in mind.  To this end, the IACG includes sections specifically adapted to NATO’s Comprehensive Operations Planning Directive (COPD) and the Alliance’s operational practices.

United Kingdom

We have also cultivated a strong and enduring relationship with the British Armed Forces.  The British Army, for example, seconds staff from its 77th Brigade, a specialized unit focusing on using non-lethal means and addressing non-traditional challenges in modern warfare. Our secondees from 77th Brigade have provided our programme with unparalleled insight and expertise, including through contributing to the IACG, and have developed their anti-corruption expertise that has in turn enriched the Army.

Additionally, we have retained strong relationships with the UK’s Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre as well as the Building Integrity UK programme. We continue to work to create further synergies with the British Armed Forces and expand and diversify our work across the services.