Responsible Defence Governance

Establishing best practice and global norms on responsible governance that ensure integrity, transparency and accountability in the defence sector.

How to govern military power presents one of the great global challenges of our age. Powerful, secretive and responsible for the world’s most destructive capabilities, when the governance of defence fails, it fails spectacularly. Despite this, defence sectors are often lacking the basic governance standards of other public sectors, with oversight, transparency and accountability requirements so often excluding defence because of broad and overused “national security” exemptions.

Our Responsible Defence Governance programme aims to help improve defence governance on a national level, and generate a global consensus on standards of governance that national defence institutions should uphold.

The goals of the Responsible Defence Governance programme are to

  1. Establish best practice on what responsible defence governance looks like.
  2. Support national actors to assess and address poor governance in their defence sectors.
  3. Generate global understanding and recognition of responsible defence governance standards.
Establish best practice on what responsible defence governance looks like

We develop best practice on how defence institutions can be responsibly governed, and sets out the oversight and transparency mechanisms that can be applied to the military to ensure integrity. Our Government Defence Integrity Index (GDI) assesses countries against this best practice.

Support national actors to assess and address poor governance in their defence sectors

Our GDI is a global index that assesses the existence, effectiveness, and enforcement of institutional and informal controls to manage the risk of corruption in defence and security institutions. It provides defence institutions with a comprehensive corruption risk assessment and highlights priority areas for improvement.  In doing so, it provides civil society and oversight bodies with a unique tool to help hold defence institutions to account.

Generate global understanding and recognition of responsible defence governance standards

Our Global Standards Initiative envisages the creation of an international political declaration, which would universalise norms around what it means to be a responsible power in the 21st Century, including commitments to basic transparency and accountability in one of the most opaque and closed off sectors in the world.

Relevant publications