Identifying Corruption Threats in the Defence and Security Sector: Empirical evidence using the Government Defence Anti-Corruption Index 2013
Two-thirds of parliament and legislatures fail to exercise sufficient control over their Ministry of Defence and the armed forces, according to a new report by Transparency International UK’s Defence and Security Programme (TI-DSP). Amongst those, 70 per cent of the largest arms importers in 2012 leave the door open to corruption.
The study—a spin-off from the Government Defence Anti-Corruption Index 2013 (GI) which analysed what 82 countries do to reduce corruption risks in the sector— places countries in corruption risk bands according to detailed assessments across seven areas in which parliaments play a vital anti-corruption role. It also shows, through detailed case studies, how parliaments and legislatures can improve oversight of defence.
Fourteen countries were placed at the bottom of the banding, exhibiting critical risk of corruption due to lack of legislative defence oversight: Algeria, Angola, Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Iran, Libya, Qatar, Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Yemen. Only four nations—Australia, Germany, Norway, and the United Kingdom—were amongst the top performers, with very low levels of corruption risk, followed by twelve countries which are at low risk due to better performance by their parliaments.
“Corruption in defence is dangerous, divisive and wasteful, and the cost is paid by soldiers, companies, governments, and citizens. Most legislatures are failing voters by not acting as proper watchdogs of this huge sector. Whether the problems are due to the political environment, poor legislation, or poor commitment by parliamentarians, the good practice examples in this study can help them improve,” said Mark Pyman, Director of TI-DSP.
Transparency International estimates the global cost of corruption in the defence sector to be a minimum of USD 20 billion per year, based on data from the World Bank and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). This is more than the combined international development aid provided by Canada and the UK in 2012.
The study suggests that presidential systems are at higher risk of corruption than non-presidential systems. Corruption also seems to increase when members of the military make up a greater portion of the population, as larger armed forces may have stronger influence and lobbying power with decision-makers, undermining parliamentary oversight of the sector.