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Buying Peace or Fuelling War: The Role of Corruption in Armed Conflicts



Although corruption may have a corrosive effect on economies and rule-based institutions, it also forms part of the fabric of social and political relationships. This endogenous character means that conflict may be engendered more by changes in the pattern of corruption than by the existence of corruption itself. Such changes, frequently associated with domestic or external shocks, can lead to armed conflict as increasingly violent forms of competitive corruption between factions 'fuel war' by rewarding belligerents. Controversially, 'buying-off' belligerents can facilitate a transition to peace; but 'sticks' such as economic sanctions, rather than 'carrots', have dominated international conflict resolution instruments. While 'buying peace' can present a short-term solution, the key challenge for peace-building initiatives and fiscal reforms is to shift individual incentives and rewards away from the competition for immediate corrupt gains. This may be facilitated by placing public revenues under international supervision during peace processes. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Journal of International Development
J. Int. Dev. 15, 413–426 (2003)
Published online in Wiley InterScience ( DOI: 10.1002/jid.993
Liu Institute for Global Issues, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Abstract: Although corruption may have a corrosive effect on economies and rule-based
institutions, it also forms part of the fabric of social and political relationships. This
endogenous character means that conflict may be engendered more by changes in the pattern
of corruption than by the existence of corruption itself. Such changes, frequently associated
with domestic or external shocks, can lead to armed conflict as increasingly violent forms of
competitive corruption between factions ‘fuel war’ by rewarding belligerents. Controver-
sially, ‘buying-off’ belligerents can facilitate a transition to peace; but ‘sticks’ such as
economic sanctions, rather than ‘carrots’, have dominated international conflict resolution
instruments. While ‘buying peace’ can present a short-term solution, the key challenge for
peace-building initiatives and fiscal reforms is to shift individual incentives and rewards away
from the competition for immediate corrupt gains. This may be facilitated by placing public
revenues under international supervision during peace processes. Copyright #2003 John
Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
There is now a broad consensus on the deleterious impact of corruption on economic
growth, equitable wealth distribution and the legitimacy and efficiency of governing
institutions. As Theobald (1990, p. 130) summarizes, ‘the political ascendance of naked
self-interest intensifies social inequalities, encourages social fragmentation and interne-
cine conflict and propels a corrupt society into an unremitting cycle of institutional
anarchy and violence’.
This argument, however, does not go unchallenged. Such a view of corruption lacks
historical and cultural contextualization, as the widely diverging experiences of relations
between corruption, development and politics demonstrate in the recent history of Asian,
African and Latin American countries (Johnston, 1986; Szeftel, 2000). Corruption is not
Copyright #2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
*Correspondence to: P. Le Billon, Liu Institute for Global Issues, University of British Columbia, Vancouver,
V6T 1Z2, Canada. E-mail:
systematically ‘naked self-interest’ but can respond, for example, to codes of reciprocity
within (neo)patrimonial political systems based on legitimate patronage (Chabal and
Daloz, 1999). More broadly, corruption is endogenous to many political structures in
which it serves key hierarchical functions, thereby contributing to political order (Cohen
et al., 1981; Charap and Harm, 1999).
Although corruption has in itself a corrosive effect on economies and rule-based
institutions, corruption is part of the fabric of social and political relationships. This
endogenous character means that conflicts may arise more from changes in the pattern of
corruption, than from corruption itself. Domestic or external shocks affecting the pattern
of corruption may therefore contribute to conflict, particularly when corruption is
pervasive. Such external shocks include the international delegitimization of authoritarian
rule motivated in large part by the end of the cold war together with the enforcement of
new international standards in public finance, democracy and ‘good governance’ which
have, over the last decade, resulted in a decline in public rents and a readjustment towards
the private sector. While some of the resulting conflicts have opened dialogue and
promoted positive reforms in societies, others have degenerated into large-scale violence
and even further illegitimate and predatory rule characterized by a shift from monopolistic
forms of corruption to criminal and competitive ones. In turn, corruption played a role in
the prolongation and termination of these conflicts.
Building on empirical evidence from a number of cases facing violent conflicts, this
article examines the relations between corruption and the outbreak, duration and
termination of conflicts. The following section discusses briefly the nature of corruption
in relation to its legitimacy and functions. The third section examines the contending
arguments linking corruption to war or peace. The fourth section analyses the role of
corruption in the different phases of armed conflict. Section five concludes.
The debate over corruption is largely articulated along moralist and judgmental lines,
dividing those condemning corruption as inherently ‘bad’ and those advocating for
cultural relativism or realpolitic pragmatism. The relative paucity of quantitative data
and detailed empirical analysis, as well as the difficulty of comparative studies due to great
variability in norms and rules, hinder the lack of clarity in the debate. The corrupt
character of what is in essence predation relates to the ‘reprehensible deviation from a
politically legitimate state of affairs’, most notably the violation of public duties by private
interests when rules or norms objectively define these two realms (Chabal and Daloz,
1999, p. 95). At a conceptual level, deciphering the political consequences of corruption
thus requires both a contextualization and a differentiation of the types of corruption
As Johnston (1986, p. 1003) argues, the effects of corruption are not systematically
disintegrative or destabilizing and their assessment requires ‘a knowledge of the systems
involved and of the extent to which the linkages and divisions fostered by corruption
correspond with the more basic fault lines of society’. Johnston differentiates four types of
corruptionmarket, patronage, nepotism and crisis along the line of numbers of
suppliers and the stakes involved. In his analysis, market corruption, which involves
routine stakes of exchanges and many suppliers dispensing corrupt benefits, is integrative
and very stable. Patronage, involving few suppliers but routine stakes concerning large
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networks, is integrative and stable. Nepotistic corruption, which involves extraordinary
stakes and a few suppliers within a kinship and friendship network, is disintegrative
outside this network and likely to be unstable. Finally, crisis corruption, involving multiple
suppliers and extraordinary stakes, is the most unstable and disintegrative. Building on this
differentiation, the potential degree of conflictuality associated with corruption thus
responds to legitimacy and competitiveness (see Figure 1).
2.1 Legitimate or Criminal?
Although illegal by international standards of good governance, corruption is often an
integral part of the political order and may even be seen as legitimate by a significant
proportion of the population. As noted in the case of market corruption, the pervasiveness
of corruption in most aspects of daily life and its rewarding of individuals according to a
condoned social order positively relate to its legitimacy. For example, petty corruption
ensures the survival of low ranking civil servants, even if some of their bureaucratic
activities are in themselves questionable.
Similarly, the corruption of politics through a system of patron–client relationships
guided by private interests can ensure some degree of political stability due to the
prevalence of reciprocity among political actors. In large parts of sub-Saharan Africa, such
legitimacy is bounded by ties of kinship and community within which redistribution is
governed by a logic of patronage. Corrupt behaviour is therefore not only driven by greed
and structural forces, but also by informal codes of conduct associated with reciprocity ties
within particularist and communitarian social networks (Chabal and Daloz, 1999). The
Figure 1. Types of corruption and consequences for political integration and stability. Adapted
from (Johnston, 1986).
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legitimacy of corruption is thus bounded by the legitimacy of control over resources; with
conflicts arising when this control extends beyond the mutually recognized resource
boundaries of social networks or fails rules of reciprocity.
While these codes of conduct do not reflect a universalistic (or Western) notion of public
good, their legitimacy rests on benefits channelled down these networks, outside which
non-reciprocal or even predatory relations dominate. The point is not whether corruption
is illegal but whether or not it is interpreted as legitimate; that is, within the boundaries of
acceptable behaviour for the elite, the military, the business community, or the general
population. The obvious questions are thus which people decide upon this legitimacy and
how can they be informed of the level and use of corruption to decide upon its
acceptability. Social and political identities as well as access to independent media are
thus crucial issues as demonstrated by the importance of corruption in political rumours,
notably circulated through radio trottoir.
2.2 Monopolistic or Competitive?
The degree of conflictuality associated with corruption is also related to its level of
competitiveness. In divided societies, a distribution of the spoils of office among different
and possibly antagonistic groups and regions can help to stabilize a country’s politics and
economy. The tacit institutionalization of corruption within the hierarchy of the state
apparatusfor example by means of below-subsistence civil service wages or the
purchase of decision-making positions is a powerful means for a ruling group to retain
the allegiance of its individual members and organizations by providing both an
inescapable economic incentive (access to rents/bribes) and a disciplinary threat (dis-
missal for corruption). Finally, political corruption provides rulers with a means to channel
funds outside through a parallel budget used for political purposes, such as patronage or
electoral campaigning, thereby often sustaining a stable if not justpolitical order.
This relation between political corruption and stability is dominated in many democ-
racies by the motivation of businesses to influence politics and the demand of politicians
for party funds, giving rise to the creation of corruption networks establishing informal
social networks of trust between actors with generally no kinship relations (Cartier-
Bresson, 1998). Elite schools, cabinet appointments and positions in the headquarters of
major corporations assist in developing these networks and reducing competition. In many
developing countries, on the contrary, it is informal social networks that are driving
corruption, as public actors controlling access to the state rents respond, in part, to the
demand of relatives, cronies and clients (Me
´dard, 1998). In such cases the possible lack of
institutionalization and the breakdown of patronage regimes increase the risk of compe-
titive corruption. In Zaire, Mobutu sustained a political order largely by co-opting dissent
and buying allegiance through regularly reshuffling lucrative positions in his government,
providing generous cash handouts from foreign aid and mineral rents, and by the
preferential allocation of nationalized foreign businesses (Emizet, 2000).
While this
monopolistic form of corruption initially consolidated his power, the erosion of public
rents from the mid-1980s onwards and the democratization taking place from 1990
Radio trottoir, or ‘sidewalk radio’, is a Francophone Africa expression referring to information rapidly
circulating at street level through individual conversations.
Mobutu reshuffled his government 43 times between 1965 and 1990.
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onwards were paralleled by the rise of competitive forms of corruption within his
entourage, the administration and the army, leading to the ultimate collapse of his regime
under military pressure in 1997.
Quantitative studies have indicated that corruption is positively correlated with political
instability (Mauro, 1995).
We try to confirm this result using corruption indexes and
levels of political violence and find that the correlation is strong and positive at an
aggregated regional level, with regions described as most corrupt also being the most
affected by political violence and vice-versa.
This relation is still significant, but weaker
at an individual country level, with important variations within regions. As pointed out
earlier, this variation is due to the type of corruption involved, but also to the type of polity
concerned. Building on the argument of Bardhan (1997) that the economic impact of
corruption depends on the degree of its centralization and that of Charap and Harm (1999)
suggesting that corruption is an efficient organizational tool to create order from a
situation of anarchy, the ‘sound management’ of corruption could thus play a major
contribution to political stability. Conversely, its mismanagementboth in terms of
centralization and legitimacycould contribute to instability and conflicts.
3.1 Corruption Fuelling War
According to the ‘corruption fuelling war’ perspective, corruption may influence the
occurrence of conflicts involving large-scale organized violence. In the absence of a
political regime legitimating the use of public functions for private interests, such
deviation is deemed to be conflictual, the more so when resource control is orchestrated
along social identity fault lines defining the sharp inequalities that fuel both grievances
among marginalized groups and greed-driven jockeying within dominant ones. This
perspective is based upon three inter-related processes.
First, corruption can increase grievances and conflictual demands for political change.
Economic grievances can result from the negative impact of corruption on investment and
economic growth (Mauro, 1995). The rates and collection of public taxes, as well as the
allocation of public expenditures and the implementation of public programmes, are
negatively affected by corruption. Most notably, the allocation of public resources to
sectors which have limited opportunities for corruption, such as education, is undermined
in favour of high opportunity ones, such as defence or large infrastructure projects (Mauro,
1998). Not only is a country’s education endowment an important determinant of
economic growth, but it also increases the opportunity cost for educated youth in joining
a rebellion; in this way it reduces the risk of armed conflict (Collier, 2000). Corruption
may also result in a deepening of inequalities (Gupta et al., 1998). More generally, the
impact of corruption is aggravated when corrupt practices have no concern for the long-
term sustainability of economic activities by taxing them beyond their profitability,
It should be noted that Mauro’s analysis does not cover two-thirds of African countries.
R-squared correlation of 0.8775 at a regional level between the estimated extent of corruption and the incidence
of political violence (IMF, 1999).
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thereby ‘mining’ the economic sector, or failing to reinvest its proceeds in the community
or country, thereby ‘bleeding’ the economy.
Grievances can also be purely political, for example when corruption becomes
‘scandalous’ and undermines national prestige and the legitimacy of the ruling group.
More generally, by increasing grievances, corruption creates political instability through
popular support for political change (McMullan, 1961). The would-be rulers can
legitimately accuse rulers of corruption and benefit from popular support to precipitate
rapid political change as corruption acquires a criminal character that is not simply defined
by its formal illegalitysince relevant laws are often defined by corrupt incumbent
leadersbut by collective perceptions. Indeed, most coup leaders justify their violent
intervention in the affairs of the state by referring to the corruption of the previous
government, hoping to shore-up support from the population (Nye, 1967; Me
´dard, 1998).
In some cases, as with Rawlings in Ghana and Sankara in Burkina Faso, the new rulers
may indeed effectively fight corruption with the support of the majority of the population.
Past (alleged) corruption could even motivate new totalitarian regimes to conduct vast
purges against the ‘corrupt classes’, such as in revolutionary China and Cambodia, with a
dramatic impact on societies. In most cases, however, the new ruling group is or becomes
corruptedas alleged in the case of Rawlingsvindicating yet more violent opposition
and instability. Alternatively, political change can degenerate into unstructured conflicts
characterized by widespread violence and diffuse authority as the new leadership is unable
to retain control over key military and business forces for lack of (corrupt) financial
incentives; leaving many to regret the by-gone ‘corrupt order’.
Ironically, reform programmes conducted in the midst of economic crises may have the
same impact. By weakening and fragmenting governments through civil service reforms,
deregulation and privatization, a ‘corrupt order’ may give place to a more competitive and
conflictual predatory regimesomething observed for example in Sierra Leone in the late
1980s and in Indonesia since the fall of Suharto (Reno, 1995). Reforms and good
governance principles targeting corruptionfor example, the US and OECD initiatives
against corporate involvement in corruption, the advocacy work of Transparency Inter-
national, or the trial of former South Korean leaders for corruption— also contribute to
delegitimizing corruption. Although these initiatives can improve governance, as in the
case of South Korea, some may unintentionally result in conflicts by undermining state
authorities and creating or exacerbating grievances. While most effective in dealing with
corruption involving licit trade, rulers engaging in illicit trade with criminal networks may
subvert these reforms. This ‘criminalization’ of the state generally undermines formal
institutions and results in greater competition over state rents and corrupt proceeds, that
can degenerate into large-scale violence if competitive groups can challenge the ruler’s
monopoly of violencesomething increasingly facilitated by the availability of small
arms (Bayart et al., 1999). This criminalization and competitiveness of corruption were
characteristic of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Republican elites jointly developed corrupt
economic interests aided and abetted by criminal groups and delegitimized the federal
political order, instrumentalizing violent nationalism to serve, inter alia, private economic
interests (Schierup, 1992; Bojicic and Kaldor, 1997).
Second, the availability of rents for the leadership can constitute the prize for capturing
the state, or at least the most lucrative rents controlled by the ruling elite. Greed can thus
Such grievances are often manipulated by opposition groups, for example they go by the name ‘les affaires’in
French politics.
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motivate marginalized politico-military groups to act for change. This ‘marginalization’ is
relative and can range from the leader’s immediate collaborators and even relatives, to
rank and file soldiers or petty criminals. Such groups can be motivated not only by their
self-interest but also by that of segments of society whose interests they aim to protect. For
example, the murder of Sankara in Burkina Faso was partly motivated by the defence of
the privileged classes against his anti-corruption and socialist reforms. In countries where
economic rents are almost exclusively channelled through the state, as in many undiver-
sified mineral economies, corruption resulting from the embezzlement of public taxes or
the monopolization of industries by political cronies leaves individuals and groups with
precious few avenues for aggrandizement outside of political patronage, thereby heigh-
tening the stakes of state control and the risk of political violence.
Beyond personal greed and the necessities of rewarding a circle of supporters, or co-
opting potential opponents, the sustainable pattern of high level corruption is further
embedded in and rationalized by the insecurity of power tenure and retirement from the
seat of power, as well as personal safety. In many democracies, the electoral insecurity of
power tenure can similarly invite political corruptionthe use of corrupt gains for
political aims rather than economic ones even if tacit forms of post-mandate rents exist,
such as political lobbying positions in large corporations.
Third, political corruption and the concomitant corruption of politics undermine
institutionalized public affairs, including processes of political change and conflict
resolution mechanisms. When elections are rigged, for example through vote buying, or
constitutional and judicial processes are flawed, both the ruling group and the opposition
are likely to use violence to defend or assert their position. The corruption of the Kashmiri
elite further delegitimated a political leadership already undermined by dubious elections
in the 1980s and turned many people to radical movements (Ganguly, 1997). Similarly,
corruption can weaken both the ethics and capacity of security forces, increasing the
likelihood of seeing interventions affected by vested interests but also by a greater
inability to defend efficiently the sovereignty of the state. The efficiency and legitimacy of
Indian security forces have been undermined by the growth of corruption within its ranks,
through involvement in parallel markets, illegal logging, bribes from insurgents, or
extortion of ransoms for releasing civilians (Noorani, 2000). This process can extend
into a criminalization of political and economic relations in society, as with the spread of
magendo’ in Uganda from the late 1970s onward (Prunier, 1983). Not only did the
Ugandan political system prove to be unstable but the entire national leadership lost
credibility among the general population; this led to a loss of respect for authority and law
and undermined faith in the public good, which in turn affected local responses to public
policies (Ouma, 1991).
Whether motivated by greed or grievances, conflict often has much to do with
corruption. Ruling groups can resort to violence to maintain corruption, transforming
bureaucratic corruption into a form of violent racket and using it to prolong their rule
beyond legal mandates. Marginalized politicians and would-be rulers can be tempted by
the availability of corrupt rents to precipitate political change through violence. Finally,
the corruption of the incumbent regime can motivate the population or economic interest
groups to support or participate in an armed rebellion.
Corruption alone, however, is not a sufficient factor for envious opposition groups or
disenfranchised populations to violently challenge rulers. Nor does corruption system-
atically bring about economic underdevelopment and raise popular grievances to a state of
violent rebellion. In fact, corruption can take place along with political stability and
Buying Peace or Fuelling for War 419
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economic growth. In this respect, the legitimate or illegitimate character of corruption in
political processes is a key issue. While advocates of corrupt governance are rare in the
‘international community’, the practices of many states attest to their acknowledgement
that some forms of corruption can bring about political stability by buying off political
opponents and restive groups, at least from the perspective of their own national interests.
This strategy has even been used, with some measure of success, in conflict resolution and
peacekeeping initiatives.
In Mozambique, the innovative and controversial stand of the international community
in assisting and financially rewarding RENAMO to join the peace process in the early
1990s and to transform itself from a guerrilla- to a political-movement was perceived as
‘buying out’ the rebel movement. The Trust Fund established for that purpose, amounting
to US$ 10 million (with Italy providing more than half the funding), was only part of a
package which ensured that RENAMO would enjoy a ‘peace dividend’, if not a share
of the ‘spoils of victory’. This package also included: the taxation of businesses in
RENAMO’s areas of control; an agreement with FRELIMO placing three advisers in each
provincial administration; and a pre-electoral agreement to be included in the new
government, the latter two measures allegedly ensuring RENAMO’s partnership in any
illicit deals possibly taking place and securing economic privileges for its ruling members.
While the post-conflict administration was criticized for being highly corrupted, the
sustainability of peace was lauded.
3.2 Does Corruption Buy Peace?
According to the ‘corruption buys peace’ argument, corruption facilitates the creation of a
political order in which rulers can coopt opposition groups, thereby providing a measure of
political stability and avoiding conflict. In other words, corruption is able to satisfy the
greed and reduce the grievances of politically restive groups by extending clientelistic
circles. In such a context, a culture of political corruption can be conducive to social and
political peace if applied throughout society —from the upper to the lower classes and in
this way it becomes broadly legitimate.
Huntington (1968), the most prominent proponent of this argument, pointed out that
corruption and violence have the same causes and serve the same functions: encouraged
by modernization, they are symptomatic of weak political institutions and are prevalent in
praetorian societies that offer few opportunities for mobility outside of politics. Corruption
is deemed preferable to violence and may even prevent it when group pressure for policy
change is reduced and so long as vertical mobility exists. Scott (1969, p. 122) notes in this
regard the ability of a political party ‘to organize and provide material inducements (often
corruptly) operates as a means of solving, for the time being at least, conflicts that might
otherwise generate violence’. From an economic perspective, Bardhan (1997, p. 1394)
also notes that, ‘[e]ven at the expense of inefficiency some sharing of these spoils of office
is, of course, to be tolerated for the sake of keeping ethnic envy and discontent under
control’. It can be argued that the dividends of peace obtained from corruption outweigh
the costs of inefficiencies.
The political stability of many countries in their early post-independence history argues
in favour of this ‘corruption buys peace’ perspective. Material rewards often served to
maintain the cohesion and dominance of single party politics and peace was often pur-
chased through the integration of a restive competitive elite or large-scale redistribution to
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the restive masses. In Senegal, the opposition was both suppressed and integrated into the
ruling party (UPS) during the 1960s through a policy of reconciliation with the govern-
ment together with financial rewards (O’Brien, 1967). At the end of World War II, the
business elite in the Philippines used the patronage ties of ‘political machines’ to buy-out a
restive landless peasantry (Scott, 1969). In Co
ˆte d’Ivoire, the corruption of President
¨t-Boigny served to bolster his regime, most notably by buying-off potential
competitors and redistributing resources from the predominantly Christian and urbanized
south to the predominantly Muslim north. A controlled and relatively rational use of
corruption characterized by a sustainable rate of extraction and redistribution facilitated
¨t-Boigny’s grip on power (Faure and Me
´dard, 1982). However, corruption alone
was not enough to sustain the political order; violent repression also played a role. The
simultaneous use of corruption and violence has played a key role in accumulating power
in ethnically divided and loosely bound countries such as Indonesia and Nigeria (this
enabled rulers to head off large-scale conflict, at least for long periods of time).
From the mid-1980s onwards many societies came under stress through a combination
of rising external debt, structural adjustment programmes, the disengagement of cold war
patrons, and the advance of democratization. These factors combined to challenge the
prevailing political order. In some cases, a ‘moral economy of corruption’ may have
‘greased the wheels’ of political transition by facilitating a redistribution of wealth.
However, in many cases the scale of the shocks (such as those generated by economic
crisis) as well as new strategies of power and the sectarian ethos of many leaders caused
the pattern of corruption to switch from being integrative monopolistic and possibly
legitimate, to being competitive and criminalized.
ˆte d’Ivoire provides an example of such a switch in the pattern of corruption. While
¨t-Boigny managed the Caisse de Stabilisation and other state resources as his
own, this form of corruption helped to create the popular political legitimacy he enjoyed.
This worked as long as it did not overstep the boundaries of the reasonable.
uncertainty and political competition resulting from his death and the collapse of the world
cacao price combined with the sectarian political agendas of his successors led to
criminalized corruption, transforming it into a source of conflict.
To sum up, proponents of the ‘corruption buys peace’ perspective argue that political
stabilityand vested interests can be promoted by sustaining legitimate corruption
through political handouts, public subsidies, aid or commercial activities. Among the most
prominent of them are the interest groups influencing relations between developed and
developing countries, such as the Franc¸africain networks linking French and African
political-military-business interests (Glaser and Smith, 1997; Verschave, 1997). While this
approach indeed served the objective of political stability, its unsustainable character and
resulting misery and social injustice nevertheless beg for an alternative.
Several authors have identified the occurrence of war with the failure and degeneration of
patrimonialism or clientelism into ‘spoils politics’, whereby ‘the primary goal of those
competing for political office or power is self-enrichment’ (Allen, 1999, p. 377).
The construction of the World’s largest cathedral in Houphoue
¨t-Boigny’s hometown in the midst an economic
crisis is an exception (Me
´dard, 1998; Chabal and Daloz, 1999).
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Combining violence, exclusion and privatization of the public realm, the exacerbation of
the most predatory practices of ‘spoils politics’ along what Bayart (1990, p. 106) termed,
the ‘Somali road to development’, ultimately results in the collapse of the state and the
outbreak of armed conflict. In short, violence becomes the prime means of political action
and economic accumulation. This criminalization of politics is indeed backed up by
evidence from the conflicts in Liberia or Sierra Leone and, as mentioned above, the last
phase of Cambodia’s conflict. The economic exacerbation of ‘spoil politics’ includes a
shift towards increasingly illicit but profitable activities (e.g. drug trafficking, money
laundering) and the plunder of available and mostly natural resources (Le Billon, 2001a).
This can in turn be explained by economic crisis resulting from the rise of competitive
sources of patronage, economic mismanagement and structural adjustment, difficulties in
engaging in formal international trade, and the internationalization of criminal activity.
The criminalization of the economy can thus be partly interpreted as the use of (and
adaptation to) globalization and market deregulation (Duffield, 1999).
Such societies see an increased use of organized violence together with its mobilization
and justification through sectarian politics. This criminalization of political processes rests
on the willingness to gain or retain power by all means, as not only wealth accumulation
but also sheer survival is in the balance (Allen, 1999). As public and private armed forces
multiply and develop commercial interests, violence is not only used in the higher realms
of power, but also becomes a ‘dirty trick’ or a form of ‘de
´brouillardise’ (smartness/
resourcefulness) to be used like any other in everyday relations (Mbembe, 1990; Ellis,
1999). Spoils politics can be most easily sustained economically by the availability of
lootable resources, mostly valuable natural resources attracting commercial partners and
without systematic recourse to political violence as long as violence is itself criminalized
and looses its political meaning. In such cases, corruption does not systematically result in
the outbreak of armed conflict but simply in the erosion of social cohesion. Criminaliza-
tion is not a unidirectional process with armed conflict as its inescapable dead-end.
Depending to a large extent on the international economic context, social groups can move
in and out of criminalization.
While most states have lost the capacity to decide when they wage or end wars, and
recurring rebellion and large scale banditry can define a state of chronic instability and
insecurity rather than war, war may be intentionally prolonged by belligerents who, in the
perpetuation of violence, find a mode of acquisition of status and accumulation of wealth
(Keen, 1998). Corruption prolongs war through two interrelated mechanisms associated
with the profitability of a state of war. First, war provides a fertile ground for corruption
and unlawful enrichment. Defence related contracts, wages of ghost soldiers, licensed
looting, reliance on imports, prevalence of parallel markets, or impunity for ruling groups
offer opportunities for corrupt practices. Second, corruption can undermine the efficiency
and morale of armed forces, especially government forces (e.g. the South Vietnamese
government; Russian military operations in Chechnya). This is the case, for example, of
arms deals selected not so much on the basis of the adequacy of the weapon systems to be
purchased, but on the opportunities of retro-commissions for the buyers (on the Angolan
case see Le Billon, 2001b). In contrast, the absence of corruption on the rebel side can
foster its capacity and popular support (e.g. the Khmer Rouge at its beginning, the Eritrean
EPLF). On the one hand, both mechanisms will tend to prolong a war as armed forces
develop a vested interest in the continuation of war while their actual capacity to achieve
victory decreases. The Indian government has bribed and granted a ‘right to loot’ to those
captured Kashmiri militants who are willing to turn into counter-insurgents, thereby
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replicating the state-sponsored terrorism it practised in Punjab during the 1980s (Human
Rights Watch, 1996; Noorani, 2000). Yet, on the other hand, corruption can be success-
fully used to accelerate victory; the Taliban was for a long time successful in buying out
competing groups before it too was toppled by the United States which bought out or
‘rented out’ Taliban and warlord turn-coats (Rashid, 2000; Burke, 2001).
The relation between corruption and the termination of war is probably the most
complex and tenuous. At a ‘grass-root level’, the buying-out of combatants generally takes
the form of support for disarmament and demobilization, for example when cash handouts
are used to defuse potential unrest among ex-combatants and to accelerate demobilization
(Berdal, 1996). However, the failures of past demobilization initiatives prove that it is
dangerous for promises of assistance not to be decently met (e.g. as happened in the
squalid cantonment camps of Angola); mere financial assistance and patchy reintegration
schemes do not guarantee the peaceful reintegration of veterans into society. And while
financial incentives may prove of interest to top combatant leaders, attempting to buy them
out may only provide a short-term solution at best in the absence of a genuine political
solution. The political considerations and personal security of leaders and commanders are
generally paramount over those of the foot soldiers. Confidence-building measures for
leaders might include integration in the government and the army, the disarmament of all
forces and policing by third parties, the possibility of retaining bodyguards, or the
provision of a safe and durable place of exile.
The shift from a political economy of war to one of peace is in itself a propitious
moment for corruption as new economic activities emerge in a context of persisting
violence and a weak regulatory environment. Risk-taking business people are willing to
invest to get a head start, and are often willing to use corruption to gain extra leverage.
People in power see peace as well as democratic elections as a political and economic risk
and indulge in corruption. Using corruption to reward the winners and co-opt or punish the
losers often follows war, but the resulting alliances can prove unstable (in Cambodia
corruption-sharing agreements between the two parties finally collapsed under the threat
of winner-takes-all elections, see Ashley, 1998; Le Billon, 2000). In Mozambique, often
hailed as the most significant success of conflict resolution, the unstable liberalization
undertaken in the context of a structural adjustment and a return to peace has created
conditions for greater corruption (Addison, 2003; Harrison, 1999). There is thus a risk of
conflict recurring if these corrupt political economies face significant shocks, especially
when international aid programmes and diplomatic attention have declined.
Analogous to the process of demobilization of soldiers and monitoring of elections
attendant to most peace processes, a war economy could be ‘demobilized’ and ‘monitored’
by economic supervision. But these periods of uncertainty and hope are too often used as
mere breathing spaces for military reorganization and rearmament. The economic aspects
of peace processes are generally neglected and are frequently placed under the initiative of
belligerents jockeying for key economic positions within the new authority or simply
embezzling funds to re-arm.
Key sectors of the war economy, such as natural resources industries, could come under
internationally supervised tax collection and budgetary allocation using escrow funds. In
such a scheme, populations would benefit from tax transfers to social services, while the
respective administrative and military structures of belligerents would receive monitored
budgetary support to implement their effective integration into new government structures.
Businesses themselves would be deterred from operating outside the scheme through a
system of incentives, such as secure legal ownership and deterrents, including effective
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sanctions. If successful, and in the absence of alternative sources of support, opting out of
the peace process would become a prohibitively costly alternative for belligerents.
Oil revenue supervision in Chad provides an interesting model. Similarly, the UN
Security Council called upon the government of Liberia to establish transparent and
internationally verifiable audit regimes over its use of revenues derived from both its
shipping and corporate registry as well as the timber industry, to demonstrate these are not
used for busting sanctions but for legitimate humanitarian and development purposes. Iraq
and Sudan are strong candidates for a mechanism to supervise the sharing of oil wealth
between the different parties and the population. The key to long-term success, however, is
strong democratic control over resource revenues, rather than weak external regulation.
Donors and analysts have elevated corruption to the position of a primary explanation of a
whole range of development problems (Adams, 1991). Yet, corruption must be understood
as being partially driven by internal processes of capital accumulation and global
structural forces (Szeftel, 2000). Historic underdevelopment ensures that local accumula-
tion rests heavily on the appropriation of public resources and political power (Bayart,
2000). Rather than the driving force of an historical path of developmental failure and
conflict, corruption is both its symptom and the most efficient means for individuals or
groups to cope with a political economy of high uncertainty, scarcity and disorder through
the proper cultivation of social relations. Controversially, without efforts to create
legitimate political processes, attempts to root out corruption may lead to anarchy rather
than economic efficiency by destabilizing the existing hierarchy and order, thereby
aggravating internal conflict (Charap and Harm, 1999).
Corruption is therefore not in itself a sufficient or even necessary factor in the outbreak
of armed conflicts. Different types of corruption have different relations with conflict, thus
requiring a differentiation of the types of corruption and an examination of the factors
affecting their legitimacy and functions. Corruption can lead to, and sustain violent
conflict, in the context of patrimonial regimes that are degenerating under local or
international shocks and pressures for reform. Yet corruption can sustain a degree of
stability and even peaceful consensus when it is politically savvy and economically
benign. This apparent contradiction is explained by the legitimacy of pervasive corruption
and the effectiveness of corruption as an instrument to build a political and economic order
within a context of relative disorder.
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... Research into the interplay between disasters and conflict, while still in an early stage, is quickly evolving generally, this body of work can be categorized into two main streams: The first stream concentrates on the role that primarily violent conflicts play in the instigation of disasters and the magnitude of their impacts. Within this stream, the examination of conflict's role in relation to disasters can be further categorized into two primary, interconnected groups: conflict creates and amplifies vulnerability to disasters or exacerbates hazards (Bankoff et al., 2004;Wisner et al., 2012;Blaikie et al., 1994) and conflict triggers the occurrence of disasters (Desportes, 2019;Le Billon, 2003;Hilhorst, 2020, 2022). Conversely, the second stream postulates how disasters can precipitate conditions that give rise to, sustain or even resolve conflicts. ...
Purpose Disasters and armed conflict often co-occur, but does that imply that disasters trigger or fuel conflict? In the small but growing body of literature attempting to answer this question, divergent findings indicate the complex and contextual nature of a potential answer to this question. The purpose of this study is to contribute a robust cross-country analysis of the co-occurrence of disaster and conflict, with a particular focus on the potential role played by disaster. Design/methodology/approach Grounded in a theoretical model of disaster–conflict co-occurrence, this study merges data from 163 countries between 1990 and 2017 on armed conflict, disasters and relevant control variables (low human development, weak democratic institutions, natural resource dependence and large population size/density). Findings The main results of this study show that, despite a sharp increase in the co-occurrence of disasters and armed conflict over time, disasters do not appear to have a direct statistically significant relation with the occurrence of armed conflict. This result contributes to the understanding of disasters and conflicts as indirectly related via co-creation mechanisms and other factors. Originality/value This study is a novel contribution, as it provides a fresh analysis with updated data and includes different control variables that allow for a significant contribution to the field.
... They usually take place in criminal governance environments. In these contexts, the interactions between police personnel and criminal groups are even more ingrained, and social order at the local level is determined by power-sharing arrangements between state authorities and criminal actors (Arias 2006;Feldmann and Luna 2022;Lessing 2021;Le Billon 2003) argues that when corruption is endogenous to institutional structures, it may contribute to political order. The former means that police officers would seek to collude with criminal groups to pursue illicit opportunities while granting them protection from the state and other criminal competitors (Arias 2013;Durán-Martínez 2017;Snyder and Durán-Martínez 2009;Becker and Müller 2013) analyzed interactions between police and citizens in Mexico. ...
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Since the mid-1990s, Latin American countries have witnessed an increase in crime and violence, making it one of the most dangerous regions in the world. While social scientists attribute this growth to several factors, only a few studies underscore how police and criminal relations impact levels of violence. Using Honduras as a case study, this article uses 26 in-depth interviews with former Honduran gang members to explore mechanisms of collusion between the police and gangs. Findings show that three mechanisms summarize police-gang collusion. First, in environments characterized by the presence and competition of several armed actors, police officials use their repressive legal capacities to subdue but also to extort gangs. Second, gangs collude with police officers to buy protection and resources from authorities. As these interactions evolve and expand, police and gangs increase their stakes in the success of the criminal enterprise. And third, gangs seek to corrupt the police to expand their territorial control and influence state authorities; much of that effort is renegotiated through violence.
... Similarly, Nunn and Qian (2012) provide evidence that US food aid facilitates civil war in recipient countries, in part because such aid provides opportunities for corruption. Le Billon (2003) argues that corruption is a major factor in armed conflict. In like manner, Gberie (2005) argues that the Revolutionary United Front's (RUF) corruption in Sierra Leone facilitated their atrocities in the 1991-2002 conflict with Liberia. ...
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This study examines the notion of governance while corruption and polity act in a negotiated approach. It adopts a theory synthesis approach to design the research paradigm and brings renewed attention to governance from a national perspective. This study argues that corruption and polity collectively define the state of governance in a particular country, which might offer some new insights to the remaining parts of the world. The principal aim of the study is to bring relevant evidence from the literature to develop a solid foundation on governance from a macro perspective. Deploying a qualitative approach, this study highlights available literature on corruption, polity, and their connections to define the state of governance. From this specific target, we have initiated this study deploying a conceptual fashion in exploring governance which is shaped by the interplay between two loosely connected themes: polity and corruption. The outcome of this synthesis is to renew our understanding on governance to strengthen the governance mechanism whereby corruption could be checked through sound polity in action. The arguments presented in the paper are expected to be useful for regulators and policymakers as they prepare governance-related rules, acts, or directives in their respective countries.
Para el Derecho Internacional, algunos “silencios” pueden tener efectos jurídicos que confluyen en la construcción de la paz. La “permeabilidad” entre Estados, entendiendo ésta como un efecto positivo consecuencia de los flujos humanos y su influencia en otras esferas (intercambio de conocimiento y cultura, gobernanza y economía, principalmente) de la relación entre territorios, ha contribuido también a la mejora de relaciones entre Macedonia del Norte y Kosovo. Este trabajo analiza los silencios y permeabilidades que han permitido una evolución positiva desde los conflictos étnicos y el enfrentamiento armado de principios del siglo XXI a una paz duradera entre estos dos Estados, que ha evolucionado hacia una cooperación activa.
Исследователи факторов революционной дестабилизации к настоящему времени достаточно основательно изучили влияние на вероятность начала революций таких переменных, как тип политического режима, темпы экономического роста или уровень ВВП на душу населения. Однако мало исследованным остается фактор коррупции, несмотря на антикоррупционные лозунги, зачастую выводящие людей на улицы. Как показывает ряд исследований, коррупция может оказывать как положительный эффект на стабильность режима через механизм кооптации контрэлит, так и деструктивный эффект, понижая эффективность государственного аппарата и увеличивая неравенство. Мы проверяем гипотезы о наличии и направлении возможного влияния различных типов коррупции, с одной стороны, и невооруженной, а также вооруженной революционной дестабилизации — с другой. Проведя корреляционный анализ такого влияния, мы выяснили, что все типы коррупции и революционной дестабилизации демонстрируют достаточно сильную положительную корреляцию между собой. Построив таблицы сопряженности, мы также выяснили, что дестабилизация вооруженного и невооруженного типа по-разному реагирует на коррупцию: фиксируются более линейный характер для вооруженных революционных выступлений и достаточно выраженная криволинейность для невооруженных. Результаты исследования позволяют сделать ряд выводов теоретического характера о влиянии коррупции на различные типы революционной дестабилизации, а также подтверждают необходимость включения фактора коррупции при проведении количественных исследований процессов революционной дестабилизации. Причинно-следственные связи между двумя явлениями тем не менее нуждаются в дальнейшем изучении. В заключении мы ставим ряд дискуссионных вопросов, которые могут послужить основой для будущих исследований взаимосвязи коррупции и революционной дестабилизации.
The relevance of the assessment of meeting the needs for digitalization in the sectors of national economy by relevant IT specialists through the implementation of basic information and communication technologies (ICT) therein (web, e-information exchange, sending of e-bills/invoices, social networks, cloud computing, "big data" analysis and artificial intelligence, e-commerce, industrial and service robots, 3D printing, ICT for environmental sustainability), as well as its conformity to existing EU practices on these issues (Digital Economy and Society Index, DESI), is studied, which is important in view of EU candidate status acquisition by Ukraine. The differences between the practices of the State Statistics Service of Ukraine and Eurostat regarding state statistical observations on the digitalization of the sectors of national economy, which are a tool for assessing the success of the state's digital, technological and educational policy, are highlighted, which is very important for Ukraine, whose economy is in a state of emergency as a result of large-scale aggression, and particularly for its post-war recovery on new technological track. It is established that since 2013, the State Statistics Service of Ukraine includes only a part of the economic sectors in the state statistical observation, their list is not updated, while the sectors that are not studied account for almost a third of the GDP. This situation must be urgently corrected. The problems of the IT education ecosystem are studied. It is established that over three years of work in the conditions of the pandemic, it acquired a certain flexibility, a remote mode of training and certification was introduced, but this is not enough for long-term functioning in the emergency conditions of war. Disadvantages are the rigid study schedule, its long term, overloading of the core and elective parts of the curricula with a significant number of humanities subjects. It is proposed to combine them into integrated courses, to shorten the duration of undergraduate studies, to promote short-cycle programs (junior bachelor) for the rapid entry of graduates into the IT labor market, to ease the personnel conditions for licensing IT specialties since they belong to creative industries.
Although U.S. officials came to see corruption as undermining the mission in Afghanistan, they failed to sufficiently appreciate or act on a crucial dimension of the problem: U.S. policies and practices incentivized graft and greatly contributed to the growth of corruption after 2001. Layers of contracting enriched the well-connected; weak oversight led to fraud and abuse; the volume of injected money was too much for Afghanistan’s small economy to absorb; and U.S. partnerships with corrupt, abusive actors perpetuated a culture of impunity that alienated the population. The U.S. strategy in Afghanistan for years relied on the survival of the Kabul government; Afghan leaders knew this, and that blunted whatever leverage Washington seemingly had over the political elite in Kabul. The United States repeatedly prioritized stability over justice, and in the end, got neither. U.S. policymakers should take several lessons from Afghanistan, to apply in similar contexts: strengthen U.S. oversight and accountability for civilian and military spending; calibrate levels of U.S. spending to not exceed a country’s absorptive capacity; invest in understanding the nature and scope of corruption; hold host country leaders accountable particularly for high-level corruption; prioritize anticorruption controls when developing the capacity of partner security forces; and invest long-term in civil society actors who are building social cohesion, transparency, and accountability within their political system.KeywordsCorruptionAnticorruptionJusticeForeign aidMilitary contracting
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This paper was an analysis of roles expected of the civilian population in supporting state security agencies' fight against violent conflict in Nigeria. The onus for the restoration of law and order is statutorily vested on the state security agencies, however, this does not relegate the efficacies of civilians' support, as some civilians' attitudes suggest. This study employed qualitative analysis of both primary and secondary data, that span a period of ten years-2011 to 2021. The paper relied on the theory of civil-military relations, which demonstrate symbiotic relationship between the public and security agencies. The paper summarized the civilian's supportive role into three major conjunctive orders, described as the "EEE gauge"-that is, education, engagement and entrenchment. From the paper's standpoint, through peace education, individuals' would development non-destructive approach to conflict resolution. Engagement implies the provision of relevant physical, moral and intelligence support to security agencies during operations. By entrenchment, it is the responsibility of public office holders to create atmosphere of peace, through developmental thrives. It was therefore recommended that necessary basic social and economic support should be made available to the public, which will largely reduce the likelihood of conflictual factors in the society.
The conceptual foundations of the social market economy, which is based on the neoliberal current of scientific thought and was successfully implemented in the post-war reconstruction of Germany, are studied. It is determined that the economic, legal and social institutions created during the reform period, ensuring the successful post-war development of the Federal Republic of Germany, were the result of implementing the concept of social market economy into practice. The methodological and theoretical foundations of neoliberal teaching – the theory of competitive order, as well as the basic principles of the theory of social market economy are systematized. The meaning of "economic order" concept is disclosed and the following reservations included therein are revealed: first, the most favorable conditions for entrepreneurial activity do not arise spontaneously, and second, in order for its elements to form a system, government efforts are needed to regulate market rules. The concept of social market economy is shown to be a set of interrelated principles. The description of each of them is given. It is proved that the theoretical developments of neoliberalism and the concept of social market economy can be used in the creation of post-war reconstruction strategy for Ukrainian economy. It is shown that, despite the fact that Ukraine enshrined the model of socially oriented economy in its constitution, the reforms were not carried out in the interests of the majority of population, that is, they were not a practical form of implementing the concept of social market economy. A successful post-war recovery of Ukrainian economy is possible through implementing the concept of social market economy, taking into account the historical features of its development. It is noted that only a scientifically based economic policy, which draws on the experience of successful countries, using a comprehensive approach to solving economic problems and the consistent implementation of socially oriented measures, can put Ukraine on a civilized path of development.
Power, violence and accumulation. In discussing the relationship between power, violence and accumulation in contemporary Africa, one must keep one’s distance from pseudo-scientific analysis, clichés and phantasms which see only the pathological aspects of African politics. The use of force not only is the necessary condition for domination, but also the way to obtain labour and an essential element in the struggle for the monopoly of accumulation.
What is Corruption? - The Emergence of Modern Public Administration - Corruption in Developed Societies - Corruption in Underdeveloped Societies - Is Corruption a Problem? - Can Corruption be Controlled? - Corruption, Development and De-Development - Bibliography - Index
Because of the systemic, generalized and costly nature of corruption in sub-saharian Africa, it seems useful to approach this phenomenon through Max Weber's ideal type of patrimonial domination. There is at present a breakdown in the ambiguous patrimonial mode of political regulation which had permitted a degree of political stability in some African regimes. The lasting structural crisis and the attempts of reform, has led to a quasi general increase in corruption bringing in some cases a criminalisation of politics. However, a movement against corruption is developing at both international and national levels.
The persistence and brutality of contemporary civil wars have left many analysts puzzled. Traditional interpretations describe civil wars as simple confrontations between two sides, as explosions of mindless violence, or as disrupting apparently benevolent development processes within countries. These approaches do not fully take into account the rational economic calculations that drive many civil conflicts in the late twentieth century. This paper argues that, to understand violence in civil wars, we need to understand the economic dimensions underpinning it. Economic activities arising from war fall into seven categories: pillage; extorting protection money; controlling or monopolising trade; exploiting labour; gaining access to land, water and mineral resources; stealing aid supplies; and advantages for the military. If these short-term benefits suggest that there is more to civil wars than simply winning, so too does the prevalence and persistence of behaviour that is, in military terms, counter-productive. This can take two forms: cooperating with the ‘enemy’; and mounting attacks that increase, rather than reduce, political and military opposition. This paper describes two forms of economic violence: ‘top-down’, which is incited by political leaders and entrepreneurs; and ‘bottom-up’, where violence is actively embraced by ‘ordinary’ people, either civilians or low-ranking soldiers. Seven conditions can encourage top-down economic violence: a weak state; rebel movements that lack strong external finance or support; an undemocratic or ‘exclusive’ regime under threat; economic crisis; ethnic divisions that cut across class lines; the existence of valuable commodities; and prolonged conflict. Three conditions are particularly conducive to bottom-up violence: deep social and economic exclusion; the absence of a strong revolutionary organisation; and impunity for violent acts. To achieve more lasting solutions to civil conflicts, it needs to be acknowledged that violence can present economic opportunities. This paper concludes that outside intervention must take into account the political and economic interests of the violent. Intervention must provide realistic economic alternatives to violence, and must handle democratic transitions and the introduction of free markets with sensitivity. This is likely to mean strengthening and improving the institutions of the state, such as schools, social-security systems and establishing a more accountable police force and Army.
This now-classic examination of the development of viable political institutions in emerging nations is a major and enduring contribution to modern political analysis. In a new Foreword, Francis Fukuyama assesses Huntington's achievement, examining the context of the book's original publication as well as its lasting importance. "This pioneering volume, examining as it does the relation between development and stability, is an interesting and exciting addition to the literature."-American Political Science Review. "'Must' reading for all those interested in comparative politics or in the study of development."-Dankwart A. Rustow, Journal of International Affairs.