Security Bulletin

GCN Security Bulletin: Corruption as a threat to security and stability

Spotlight: Global Corruption
corruptionOn November 8, the Indian government demonetized more than half the currency in the country. The stated objective of this covert plan (amid its faulty execution) was to reduce the amount of black money floating around in the economy and reduce corruption through new security features on currency notes. The objective of today’s bulletin is not to assess the effectiveness of the demonetization process  or analyze the intentions of the Indian government, but to shift the focus onto global corruption.

A 2016 report by the IMF said that 1.5 – 2 trillion USD (roughly around five per cent of the global economy) is siphoned out of the economy by the public sector each year. This is troubling for several reasons. It is a great loss to the economy, productivity and investment. It is a serious threat to political and economic stability. Based on the level of corruption in a country, this amount will vary significantly making it hard to plan budgets and execute programs. As a result, it undermines the trust of citizen’s in their own governments  – this also increases instability. It undermines the trust individual citizens have in each other and it furthers the divide between the rich and the poor. The poor feel that the government is more sympathetic towards those that have the means to bribe public officials to perpetuate their wealth. And finally, presence of corruption is an indicator of criminality.  Drug trafficking, land-grabbing, arms smuggling, human trafficking and other violent crimes are linked to corruption and widespread money laundering in the world’s financial system.

International corruption watchdog Transparency International states that more than six billion people live in countries where corruption is a serious problem. The lowest scorers in this index are also marred by violence and conflict including Syria, Somalia, Afghanistan, Afghanistan, Sudan and South Sudan. Another organization, TRACE International says that corruption is on the rise with 60% of countries improving their risk of bribery from their scores in the previous year. And this trend has been on an increase in the past decade.

Corruption is a grave (but very under-recognized) cause of instability. Policy makers must broaden their understanding of factors that have the potential to cause instability and insecurity. It is essential that we start to recognise these factors and risks to security and prioritise action against them.

Governments vs Rebel Forces

Syria: Violence in Aleppo has increased drastically in the past few weeks. Eastern Aleppo has become the epicentre of the conflict. The UN has estimated that 25,000 have fled the area under attack by air strikes since November 25. Aleppo has been in headlines for the past months  as being a battleground between global powers; namely Russia and the US. The civilians on the ground must contend with airstrikes from the government aided by Russian air force together with terrorist activities in the region. Humanitarian aid has been scarce for the people there, as numerous attempts of ceasefires have failed. In its final push to quash anti-government rebels, the airstrikes have increased. Little relief can be expected from the international community for the people of Aleppo. The situation is very grave.

Internally displaced people are seen in Pibor January 12, 2012. The World Food Program (WFP) started distributing food to 60,000 internally displaced people in South Sudan, according to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). (Isaac Billy/Reuters)
Internally displaced people are seen in Pibor January 12, 2012. The World Food Program (WFP) started distributing food to 60,000 internally displaced people in South Sudan, according to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). (Isaac Billy/Reuters)

South Sudan: This week, President Salva Kiir rejected the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan claims that his government is carrying out an ethnic cleansing and facilitated forced starvation gang rape and burning of villages. The conflict has arisen due to the split between President Salva Kiir and his deputy Riek Machar. Kiir’s Dinka ethnic group is pitted against Machar’se  Nuer group and other rebel forces. One in four people are internally-displaced in the world’s youngest country. And 2.2 million people have fled the country in the last 36 months.

Currently, the UN has called on the international community to call for an armed embargo to prevent the ethnic conflict from escalating to a full-scale genocide which many believe is inevitable. Experts fear that the situation in South Sudan is deteriorating so rapidly that it could eventually lead to a genocide.