Conflict countries and countries emerging from conflict have difficult tasks ahead of them, and their troubles are often exacerbated by corruption inside and outside of the government. Mark Pyman, head of Transparency International’s Defence and Security Programme (TI-DSP) and Stewart Eldon, senior advisor with TI-DSP and a NATO representative, have been working to decrease corruption in conflict and post-conflict nations. They’ve learned a lot about how to approach the nations and have even seen some successes. But there is plenty of work left to do.
Pyman says the number one challenge in trying to help countries counter corruption is getting their governments to talk about the problem. If you ask top leadership “how often they have a serious talk about what they’re doing on the anticorruption front, 99 out of a hundred times the answer will be never,” Pyman says.
Even when the country leadership does address corruption, their understanding of prevention is rudimentary, he says. Many think that countering corruption is about punishing perpetrators, but that is only a small part of it. It’s important to prevent the opportunities for such criminal activity to begin with. “Most of that kind of preventative state of mind does not exist, I would say, at the top of many militaries and defense and security ministries. So that’s the place to start,” Pyman says.
It’s also important to understand the different types of corruption that can be present in a country. For example, there can be bribery and corruption with procurement, business operations, bidding, security theft, arms trafficking, and in many other areas.
Additionally, some types of businesses or some types of people might be more vulnerable to corruption. With regard to government, “people lower down the hierarchy are much more vulnerable than the ones at the top because it’s a hierarchical system, and they lose their jobs if they don’t play the game,” Pyman says.