From: Yona Maro
Corruption is typically seen as a pathology, a fraying at the edges of a system or, at worst, a sign of system failure. Consequently, much of the work to devise remedies is entrusted to aid agencies and local civil society actors, whose hard-fought efforts strive for small-scale, concrete successes. These interventions tend to be focused on remedying technical deficiencies or building capacity.
But in a range of countries around the globe, corruption is the system. Governments have been repurposed to serve an objective that has little to do with public administration: the personal enrichment of ruling networks. And they achieve this aim quite effectively. Capacity deficits and other weaknesses may be part of the way the system functions, rather than reflecting a breakdown.
This structural dynamic—together with the strong correlation between acute corruption and breaches of international security—suggests that corruption may be a higher-stakes problem than has been commonly thought. Foreign and defense policymakers, as well as multinational corporations, need to mainstream consideration of corruption into their decisionmaking processes.
But currently, Western governments and key business actors are not well set up to respond in this holistic way. Information on the organization, manning, and practices of kleptocratic networks in key countries is not systematically gathered. Corruption is not on the agenda for high-level bilateral exchanges. Experts and specialized departments working on the issue are rarely at the table when critical decisions are made. They are insufficiently resourced even to carry out the relatively marginal tasks they are assigned. And relationships or cooperation models come in too few varieties, precluding subtle or creative ways of furthering anticorruption priorities so an all-or-nothing approach prevails.
Yona Fares Maro
Institut d’études de sécurité – SA