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Linking corruption, social unrest and international security

Linking corruption, social unrest and international security
Published 2 Jul 2014 

We're a little late on this one, but a recent Carnegie Endowment paper on the links between corruption, social unrest and international instability is worth highlighting:

Systemic corruption has an unrecognized bearing on international security. Policymakers and private companies often pay insufficient attention to corruption when deciding what foreign and defense policies to pursue or where to invest. Greater understanding of the nature of acute corruption and its impact on global security would contribute to a better assessment of costs and benefits and therefore to improved policy and practice...

...Western policymakers typically prioritize other considerations, such as immediate security imperatives, the economic or strategic value of maintaining relations with a given government, or return on investment, over corruption concerns. As a result, Western institutions and individuals often enable corrupt governments, exacerbating security threats.

The report argues that the thread linking the large number of popular uprisings and small-scale wars in recent years (in Africa and the Arab world particularly, but also in Ukraine) is 'acute, structured government corruption'.

While stressing that pervasive corruption usually combines with other factors (severe economic disparities, ethnic or religious tension, etc.) to fuel instability, Carnegie notes that of the 15 lowest ranking states on Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index, twelve are currently the location of insurgency, give sanctuary to terrorist groups, or pose threats to international security. Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria are all in this group.

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