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Defence & Security Corruption
With huge contracts and high secrecy, the defence sector poses unique corruption risks. Protecting national security is often used as an excuse to hide information that should be available to the public.
Everyone pays the cost. Money wasted on defence corruption could improve education or healthcare, or be used to provide soldiers with the equipment they actually need. Defence corruption destroys trust in the armed forces and puts soldiers’ lives at risk.
What we’re doing about it
We conduct research on defence and security corruption
We have identified 29 types of corruption in defence, many of which we have explored further through our research. We are also currently developing a typology on corruption in the police. Our team is working on two new Defence Against Corruption Indices, which will assess and score governments and defence companies on the codes and processes they have in place to prevent corruption in their establishments. They will provide governments and companies with insight into their defence corruption risks, and will also help civil society to hold defence establishments to account by demanding improvement in these areas.
We support defence and security reform in countries
Corruption in the defence and security sectors is a problem that can be tackled. Since 2004, Transparency International’s Defence and Security Programme (TI-DSP) has supported defence and security reform in countries by working together with governments to identify their corruption risks and developing and supporting mechanisms to prevent corruption from occurring. We also help them curb corruption by facilitating leadership workshops, roundtables, and “building integrity” courses for military and defence ministry personnel.
We influence policy
Our team works with international organisations to influence policy. The international arms trade is among the most corruption-prone sectors, as arms deals tend to be surrounded by high levels of secrecy due to commercial and national security. Illicit arms transfers have devastating consequences for international humanitarian law, human rights, and sustainable development, as well as for efforts to combat violent organised crime and terrorism. UN member states and international organisations are working on this, and a UN Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) should be signed in July 2012. We believe this treaty can only help making the international arms trade more transparent if it includes strong anti-corruption provisions.
We help the defence industry raise its standards
We work with defence companies, because we strongly believe that it is in their interest to prevent and counter corruption from within the industry. Their cooperation is also key to curbing corruption in the arms trade. We help companies strengthen their compliance programmes and offsets controls, for example, and encourage them to work together towards stronger global ethical standards for the industry.
- The Defence and Security Programme works with the majority of Transparency International national chapters, and other NGOs. We do this through the different tools we have developed to tackle corruption in defence; our negotiations for a robust UN Arms Trade Treaty; and/or their assessment and review of our Governments’ Defence Against Corruption Index.
- We support reform in countries by working closely with governments. We help them identify their defence and security corruption risks and mitigate them with the tools we have developed, like anti-corruption plans and defence integrity pacts.
- Our team also works with NATO, delivering anti-corruption training for senior officers and defence officials, and with other international organisations.
- We work with defence companies, encouraging them to work together towards stronger global ethical standards for the industry.
- Although we are a global programme, we work within Transparency International UK, which since 2000 has been advocating for our movement to address corruption in the defence sector.
Our team firmly believes that corruption risks in defence and security are a problem which can be solved. Many governments and private institutions are getting on board: they understand that corruption is not too big of a subject to tackle, and that positive results can be seen in a reasonable amount of time.
Corruption is a systemic, organisational, issue: it is not only about the misconduct of General X or Official Y. Corruption is built into a system and its processes, and this is where change needs to start. Tackling corruption risk starts and ends with people within an organisation changing their behaviour. There are a number of important steps that can have a major impact:
- Make the subject discussable: Officers recognise corruption when they see it, but the issue is often not part of their agenda. Realising corruption is a systemic issue and not a personal one sets the foundations for conversation.
- Train agents for change: For anti-corruption reform to be successful, it has to be a task not only for the leadership, but also for the middle level of the organisation. If they embrace the change needed, this will permeate to every level. Civil society also has a role here: they become the network of support these “agents for change” need to share best practices.
- Monitor and measure: Defence establishments should be aware that there is no ‘start’ button for change, and no ‘end point’ in tackling corruption. However, there is a need to identify strengths and weaknesses, and to measure progress along the way.