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TI discusses approaches to tackling state fragility at the Munich Security Conference

New policy paper proposes a better policy framework for stabilisation missions and defence capacity building programmes in fragile environments

The anti-corruption organisation Transparency International Germany will stress the considerable risk from corruption threats for the effectiveness of international interventions and defence capacity building programmes in countries being supported at this year’s Munich Security Conference. Corruption can not only reduce the chances of success of the mission, but can also lead to complete subversion of its intent. A policy paper that was released today offers a framework through which the international community can better recognise and address such threats. It also offers a proposed framework which can improve preparation for defence capacity building and interventions in the future.

Corruption: issue in most crises

From terrorist activities of Boko Haram in Nigeria, drug traffic in Mexico, and patronage networks in Afghanistan to autocratic structures before the Maidan in Ukraine, a common issue that links all those events is corruption. A clear correlation exists between corruption, weak state institutions and instability. Twelve of the 15 lowest ranked countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index in 2013 were the scene of insurgencies or extremist activities. International engagement in such environments is therefore more likely to happen. Fighting corruption thus cannot remain a blind spot in security policy.

Edda Müller, Chair of Transparency International Germany: “Corruption not only hinders the positive impact external help seeks to achieve. Aid may even entrench corruption further and contribute to undesired outcomes. The international community has learned this the hard way in missions in Afghanistan, Kosovo or Mali. The lessons nevertheless still have to be woven into all current and future operations.”

Anti-corruption key for sustainable aid and support

The lacking monitoring and control of spending resources and accepting corruption as a fact of mission life do not only contribute to state instability, but to endangering the lives of soldiers and civil personnel. In fact, interventions oftentimes lead to a spike of corruption in the country and bolstered insurgent support. Capacity building programmes also show the need to incorporate an institution-building component in order to be sustainable and ends oriented. What is needed is a more strategic comprehensive approach that includes anti-corruption in risk analysis, planning, and mission-mandates.

Mark Pyman, Director of Transparency International UK Defence and Security Programme and co-author of the policy paper: “Corruption is potentially fatal to long-term stability, security and development, and therefore countering it also needs to be considered a priority. Policy makers and military and security professionals should address the corruption threat from the very start of a mission.”

Important role of the private sector and arms export controls

Cobus de Swardt, Managing Director of Transparency International: “The private sector has a role to play as well, so that efforts are truly comprehensive. Compliance and due diligence are especially important when defense capacity building involves arms transfers aimed at increasing the receiving armed forces’ capacity and enhancing interoperability.” Institutional weakness, corruption, factional fault lines and lack of management procedures within the recipient armed forces increase opportunities for diverting equipment and make it difficult to improve capacity and resilience.

With the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) entering into force in December 2014, now is the time for all parties to the Treaty to ensure that their arms export control systems are as robust as possible. Given the need for international coordination, organizations such as the European Union have an important role to play. Not only should the EU encourage further ATT ratification, participate in information sharing and help build capacity elsewhere, it also needs to tighten the EU Common Position on arms export controls and harmonize the various national systems to ensure that anti-corruption considerations are introduced and applied effectively.

Edda Müller: “We do need stronger diligence procedures. The current review of the Common Position and the implementation of the ATT give ample opportunity to think innovatively and debate publicly. The idea of a European body responsible for a true harmonization and reliable arms export controls should be discussed.”


The policy paper follows the study “Corruption as a Threat to Stability and Peace” that was released at last year’s Munich Security Conference. It will be a basis for the joint panel discussion of the Munich Security Conference and Transparency International on “Tackling state fragility and failure: the corruption dimension” in Munich on February 7, 2015. Transparency Germany works closely with Transparency International and its UK-based Defence and Security Programme, and is especially thankful to the Robert Bosch Stiftung that supported the activities during the last year and made possible launching the publications on this undoubtedly complex issue.

Policy Paper “Threats to Stabilisation Missions and Defence Capacity Building. Establishing a Better Policy Framework” (pdf, 287 kB):

Study “Corruption as a Threat to Stability and Peace” (pdf, 589 kB):

For any press enquiries please contact

Prof. Dr. Edda Müller, Chair of the Board
Dr. Anna-Maija Mertens, Managing Director
Transparency International Deutschland e.V.
Phone: +49 (0)30 - 54 98 98 0
Email: [email protected]