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Defence and security

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. In 2016, the total sales of arms and military services around the world amounted to more than US$374.8 billion. The sheer scale of military contracting means that when corruption occurs, it too occurs on another scale: often in billions of dollars. And when scandals happen, due to the close links between government and industry, senior officials are often implicated.

On top of this, corruption in procurement and the arms trade deprives militaries of the equipment they need and is a key driver of weapons diversion to rogue actors.

Defence sectors often lack the basic governance standards of other public sectors. Oversight, transparency and accountability requirements frequently exclude defence because of broad and overused “national security” exemptions.

Corruption in the defence and security sector can drive conflict, stifle development, and suck disproportionate amounts of public money.

How corruption in defence and security affect you?

Corruption in the global arms trade wastes unfathomable sums of public money, taxpayer dollars designated for serious causes close to your well-being. Corruption in defence can also equate to military equipment being funnelled to dangerous groups on the brink of power.

What needs to be done to promote integrity in defence and security sectors?

Our thematic initiative focuses on three areas for improvement: responsible defence governance, conflict and insecurity, and industry integrity.

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.

Our Conflict and Insecurity programme aims to address the links between corruption and conflict and help build the integrity of national and international bodies responsible for providing security and stability.

The Industry Integrity programme works with the global defence industry, governments and civil society to address systemic corruption risks in the arms trade.

What we’re doing about it

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Located in London, our programme works with defence institutions, governments, defence industry, civil society and international organisations worldwide to strengthen transparency, accountability and oversight systems in this historically opaque and secretive sector.

Photo: Tommaso Calderara /


Our work is underpinned by in-depth research into issues of corruption and integrity in the defence sector. Our research products include our indices – Government Defence Integrity Index (GDI) and Defence Companies Index on Anti-Corruption and Corporate Transparency (DCI)research reports, and research-based toolkits.

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We engage with actors from across the defence and anti-corruption spectrum, from militaries to industry to civil society, to push for effective defence governance reform and strong oversight systems. Our advocacy work includes training on defence anti-corruption issues for both military and civilian audiences.

Photo: Mostafa Meraji /

Global delivery

By working collaboratively with Transparency International's national chapters, we develop anti-corruption reform programmes tailored to particular contexts with the aim of both encouraging meaningful change within defence institutions and also strengthening government and civil society oversight mechanisms. This work is conducted globally, with particular focus on West Africa, Eastern Europe and the Middle East and North African region.

Conflict at the bottom

News •

As in previous years, many of the countries near the bottom of the 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index have been severely affected by violent conflict in recent years. Why is this…

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