About Matthew Stephenson

Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

Guest Post: The Importance of Integrating Anticorruption into Military Capacity-Building Programs

Today’s guest post is from Associate Professor Åse Gilje Østensen of the Royal Norwegian Naval Academy, and Sheelagh Brady, Senior Analyst at SAR Consultancy:

In developing countries faced with security challenges—such as armed conflict, insurgencies, or widespread violence—foreign donors often offer capacity-building programs to strengthen local security institutions. However, many of these capacity-building programs do not consider corruption or incorporate anticorruption measures within their design. And when donors do consider corruption in military capacity-building programs, they typically focus narrowly, and short-sightedly, on safeguarding program funding, with little apparent concern beyond that. The view seems to be that one can build military or police capacity first, and then (perhaps) deal with corruption later, or even leave anticorruption efforts entirely to organizations and agencies dedicated to this purpose.

This approach is likely mistaken. As documented in a recent case study from the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, Capacity Building for the Nigerian Navy: Eyes Wide Shut on Corruption?, capacity-building efforts in weak states with pervasive corruption can stimulate corrupt or even criminal activity, which may result in more of the insecurity that these efforts are supposed to reduce. As the U4 report notes, “capacity building can strengthen the abilities of corrupt actors to devise corrupt schemes, as the skills and equipment provided may be used to ‘professionalise’ corrupt practices.” Donors and policymakers therefore need to see corruption as a critical concern at the top level of foreign and security policy across countries, and make anticorruption a key component of the design, implementation, and follow-up of military and police training.

In contrast to more ambitious and comprehensive security sector reform programs, capacity building programs seek to achieve modest improvements in capabilities, usually by providing training, mentoring, and/or equipment. Yet while modesty in terms of goals may be useful, donors may be tempted to think that the limited scope of capacity-building interventions implies limited risk. Yet a host of problems can arise when anticorruption measures are not incorporated into capacity building. Most obviously, when adding particular skill sets or strengthening the operational capacity of corrupt security institutions, security personnel may improve their ability to divert resources from their intended purposes. Worse still, building selected capacity without addressing corruption could mean bolstering the segments of the security apparatus involved in facilitating or carrying out criminal activity. It is hard to know just how big of a problem this is, but there are indications that capacity building very often is provided to corrupt security sectors. For example, several studies have found the Nigerian Navy to be heavily involved in facilitating illegal bunkering, oil theft at sea, and piracy in the Gulf of Guinea (see here, here, here, and here). At the same time, the Navy is a partner to two capacity building programs sponsored by the U.S. military’s Africa Command (AFRICOM): the Africa Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership (AMLEP) and the Africa Partnership Station (APS). Neither of these programs implements measures to prevent corrupt actors in the Navy from using their newfound skills and better technology to fuel insecurity and crime. More generally, according to the Security Assistance Monitor, in 2016 alone the United States provided over $8 billion in arms and training to 50 of the 63 countries that Transparency International (TI) has rated as a having a high or critical risk of corruption in their defense sectors.

How can anticorruption efforts be made part of capacity-building programs? The first step is to recognize that corruption can undermine the results of security assistance programs, and to avoid compartmentalizing “security” and “corruption” as two unrelated issues. After recognizing this fundamental point, one can design and implement sensible anticorruption measures, tailored to the particular circumstances, in particular the informal power distributions and incentive structures that determine who gains from corruption and how. And before implementing capacity building programs in the first place, donors should carefully consider whether those programs will translate into institutional improvements or will instead create “capital” that may be attractive to corrupt actors, subversive forces, or disloyal individuals.

Tracking Corruption and Conflicts of Interest in the Trump Administration–December 2018 Update

Since May 2017, GAB has been tracking credible allegations that President Trump, as well as his family members and close associates, are seeking to use the presidency to advance their personal financial interests, and providing monthly updates on media reports of such issues. The December 2018 update is now available here.

As always, we note that while we try to include only those allegations that appear credible, we acknowledge that many of the allegations that we discuss are speculative and/or contested. We also do not attempt a full analysis of the laws and regulations that may or may not have been broken if the allegations are true. For an overview of some of the relevant federal laws and regulations that might apply to some of the alleged problematic conduct, see here.

An Interesting Collection of Corruption Posts at the Public Administration Review’s Blog Symposium–Worth a Look!

The Public Administration Review recently published a blog symposium on corruption, edited by Liz David-Barrett and Paul Heywood. (As some readers might recall, GAB published the announcement and call for submissions last April.) The broad-ranging symposium includes an impressive lineup of contributors and a diverse set of topics–and in keeping with blogging norms, the pieces are short and to the point, and often provocative. Worth checking out. You can find the full table of contents at the link in the first line of this post, but I’ll also copy it below so readers can jump directly to posts that look particularly interesting:

Corruption: A Bully Pulpit Symposium

Introduction

  1. Why re-think anti-corruption? An introduction to the symposium, Elizabeth Dávid-Barrett and Paul M. Heywood

A systems approach to corruption

  1. Learning to understand corruption as a systemic problem, Johannes Tonn
  2. Eradicating Corruption: You Can’t Just Pin Your Hopes on Democracy, Elisabeth Kramer
  3. Informal networks: the invisible drivers of corruption and implications for anti-corruption practice, Claudia Baez-Camargo, Saba Kassa and Cosimo Stahl
  4. What ‘hidden’ success stories tell us about anti-corruption policy and practice, Heather Marquette and Caryn Peiffer
  5. Pressure to change: a new donor approach to anti-corruption? Phil Mason

Broadening the definition of corruption

  1. Fighting corruption through strengthening financial integrity: Reflections on Pakistan’s experience, Tom Keatinge and Anton Moiseienko
  2. Add women and stir? Exploring the gendered dimension of corruption, Rrita Ismajli and Miranda Loli

Moving away from compliance-based, regulatory approaches to anti-corruption

  1. Fighting Corruption with Insights from Behavioral Science, Johann Graf Lambsdorff
  2. Focusing efforts and blurring lines: the OECD’s shift from ethics to integrity, Sofia Wickberg
  3. Rethinking corruption risk management for global health programmes: from compliance-based approaches to informed programme design, Sebastian Bauhoff, Sarah Steingrüber and Aneta Wierzynska
  4. Interpreting anti-corruption within a public ethics of accountability, Emanuela Ceva and Maria Paola Ferretti
  5. Using a social norms approach to tackle corruption in Nigeria, Abdulkareem Lawal

New roles for the private sector in tackling bribery and corruption

  1. Market for Bundles: A New Stage of Foreign Anti-Bribery Enforcement, Branislav Hock
  2. Towards a system of compensation for the victims of foreign corruption, Friederycke Haijer
  3. Public/private partnerships – an opportunity or risk for anti-corruption? Nick J Maxwell
  4. Communicating with SMEs on anti-corruption, Brook Horowitz and Jan Dauman
  5. Charting a New Path of Anti-Corruption in Africa: Bringing the Private Sector in from the Cold, Tahiru Azaaviele Liedong

Engaging more local and community partners in anti-corruption

  1. “Bottom Up” Corruption Prevention, Jennifer Widner and Tristan Dreisbach
  2. Look beyond the nation-state: Local-level success stories may reflect different power dynamics, Tom Shipley
  3. Nuevo Leon’s Anticorruption System: Taking Stock of an Ongoing Experiment in Fighting Corruption at the Local Level, Bonnie J. Palifka, Luis A. García and Beatríz Camacho
  4. Can Customary Authority Reduce Risks of Corruption and Local Capture? David Jackson and Jennifer Murtazashvili
  5. Every Penny Counts: Exploring Initial Strategies for Successful Open Contracting Initiatives in Challenging Environments, Tom Wright, Eliza Hovey and Sarah Steingruber
  6. Empowering Agents of Change, Phil Nichols

Carr Center Conference on Human Rights and Corruption: Full Video

There’s been a great deal of recent interest, in both the anticorruption community and the human rights community, about the connections between these topics. Back in May 2018, the Carr Center for Human Rights at the Harvard Kennedy School held a conference on this topic (entitled “Corruption and Human Rights: The Linkages, the Challenges, and Paths for Progress”). I posted a link to the written summary report of the conference last summer. I’m now pleased to report that a full video of the all-day conference is available here.

It’s long (over 4 1/2 hours), so here’s a quick guide to what speakers and presentations you can find where: Continue reading

Guest Post: The World’s Biggest Anticorruption Legislative Package You Haven’t Heard About Is in Brazil

Today’s guest post is from Professor Michael Freitas Mohallem (head of the Center for Justice and Society at Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), Bruno Brandão (Director of Transparency International, Brazil), and Guilherme France (a researcher at FGV).

Transparency International’s Brazilian chapter, together with scholars at FGV’s Rio and Sao Paolo law schools, are leading a wide-ranging effort, with input from multiple sectors of Brazilian society, to develop a package of legislative, institutional, and administrative reforms—the “New Measures Against Corruption”—that will address the systemic causes of corruption and offer long-term solutions. The project, which was developed over approximately 18 months in 2017 and 2018, was prompted by two related developments. First, so-called Car Wash (Lava Jato) operation has uncovered one of the biggest corruption scandals in modern times, implicating hundreds of politicians, civil servants, and business leaders. Second, although the Lava Jato operation led to a proposal, spearheaded by some of the Lava Jato prosecutors themselves, for “Ten Measures Against Corruption,” which was endorsed by over 2 million people, that effort was stymied by the National Congress. So, despite the success of Lava Jato in exposing and punishing corruption, Brazil has not yet developed the necessary long-term reforms to address the underlying sources of the problem.

The New Measures Against Corruption are intended to provide a path forward for Brazil, setting out a bold reform agenda that addresses issues relating to prevention, detection, and prosecution of corruption. The New Measures consist of a package composed of 70 anticorruption measures—ranging from draft federal bills, proposed constitutional amendments, and administrative resolutions—in 12 categories:

  1. Systems, councils and anticorruption Guidelines;
  2. Social accountability and participation;
  3. Prevention of corruption;
  4. Anticorruption measures for elections and political parties;
  5. Public servant accountability;
  6. Public servant investiture and independence;
  7. Improvements in internal and external control;
  8. Anticorruption measures for the private sector;
  9. Investigation;
  10. Improvements in criminal persecution;
  11. Improvements in the fight against administrative improbity;
  12. Tools for asset recovery.

The complete report on all 70 proposals (which runs 626 pages, and so far is only available in Portuguese) is here. Further discussion of the specific proposals would be welcome, both from domestic and international commentators, and we hope that at some point soon we will be able to provide summaries and translations of all of the measures. But in the remainder of this post, we want to offer some more background on the process that we used to develop the New Measures, as well as the prospects going forward for pushing the government to adopt these reforms. Continue reading

The Debate Over the International Anticorruption Court Continues… This Time in Podcast Form!

As many GAB readers are aware, Judge Mark Wolf’s vigorous advocacy for the creation of an International Anti-Corruption Court (IACC), modeled on but distinct from the International Criminal Court, has prompted a great deal of commentary and discussion on this blog (see, for example, here, here, here, here, and here), and elsewhere.

Last month Judge Wolf and I had the opportunity to sit down with Alexandra Wrage, the President of TRACE International, to discuss the IACC proposal on an episode of TRACE’s “Bribe, Swindle, or Steal” podcast. The direct link to the podcast is here. You can also find the link on the TRACE podcast main page, which also includes links to a number of past podcasts on anticorruption-related topics, which might also be of interest to GAB readers.

Anticorruption Bibliography–November 2018 Update

An updated version of my anticorruption bibliography is available from my faculty webpage. A direct link to the pdf of the full bibliography is here, and a list of the new sources added in this update is here. As always, I welcome suggestions for other sources that are not yet included, including any papers GAB readers have written.