Tag Archives: governance

Dividing the Threat Multiplier: An Argument for Effective International Prosecution Against Grand Corruption and Kleptocratic Regimes – Maren Moon

The release of the Panama Papers by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has fuelled spectacular revelations regarding the scale of grand corruption and the wider system which enables it (ICIJ, 2016: np).  The scandal is exposing involvement by the very people and institutions who should feel morally and legally compelled to act with the highest integrity but who instead participate in a system all too frequently perpetrating wholesale crime, undue privilege, and the global erosion of security.  (Wolf, 2014: 3). They are doing so with impunity, and they are doing so while the world’s watchdogs cannot help but possess full knowledge that ‘the link between grand corruption and mass human rights violations is undeniable’ (Freedom House, 2014, and also Woodrow Wilson Center, 2016: np., and Transparency International: 2008, ).

No less than heads of states and global financial institutions linked to London, New York and Switzerland have now been connected to an enormous shadow economy responsible for: hiding assets; exercising bribery; facilitating tax evasion; practicing financial fraud; enabling drug trafficking; and participating in sexploitation. (See ICIJ, 2016 and Huffington Post a, 2016, Huffington Post b, 2016: np, and BBCb, 2016: np ). And no fewer than 11 million documents have laid bare the global elite’s participation in a system purposefully rigged to increase the gap between the absurdly wealthy and the tragically poor.  The international community would do well to note too that this is a system which facilitates crime in desperate and conflict-vulnerable settings while arming the insurgents and terrorists who operate from within such settings (Patrick, 2009 and Napoleoni, 2003). We should also recall the system intentionally erodes democratic principles of transparency, fair taxation, the right to peaceful protest, and the exercise of free speech (Woodrow Wilson Center, 2016: np and Wolf, 2014: 5-8).  In short, this is a system wherein leaders and criminals alike actively undermines everything to which the international community aspires, and for which it ultimately endeavours; sometimes selflessly and in conditions of great hardship.

It should not go unrecognised that the responses of those who have been unveiled as both witting and unwitting participants in the darker aspects of this economy, all too consistently reiterate a mantra which should give each of us a moment’s pause for reflection – that lawyers and financial experts alike still possess the legal means of perpetrating unfair, corrupt, and increasingly unfair and corrupting practices. Vested interests in lofty positions have suggested big businesses, and their high-flying personnel, need to work in the shadow economy even when it lowers opportunities for smaller businesses and honest entrepreneurs.  They argue further that legislation against bribery ‘puts British companies at a competitive disadvantage’ (Barrington, 2016: 4). And yet still too, others have intoned that society needs to tacitly accommodate unethical practices in the financial sector on the grounds that businesses in their countries are too big to fail, or too important to risk having relocate to another country. But in making these accommodations we will be enabling the capture of entire governments by organisations whose interests do not include the common citizens who eke by and sustain the infrastructure enjoyed by those who have rigged the system against them (Johnson, 2009: np).  Such accommodation could only serve to entrench profit for the few at the cost of the many. We are, in effect, now experiencing parallel attacks on democracy by the licit and illicit economies alike – both of whom are seemingly melding into a deeper, more committed relationship in an increasingly shady capacity and whose political-economy will forever thwart the international community’s efforts in bringing peace and security.

Those who evade tax legally are allowed to escape criminality by conveniently structured legal technicalities. This phenomena is relatively easy to rectify. But the Big King Kleptocrats who knowingly act outside the law, do so understanding that successful prosecution against their acts is nearly unheard of. History and statistics remain firmly on their side. This is occurring regardless of corruption’s increasingly evident role in destabilising entire continents such as Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Central and South America (Carnegie, 2015).  These actors smile comfortably while insinuating that exposure of their misdeeds might expose a larger, darker reality in which too many purportedly clean-skinned actors may also be complicit.

And while they may not be kind, they most certainly are proving wise.

Indeed, these same kleptocrats, and their advisors, will have followed closely the freedom and riches once more enjoyed by Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak who has now escaped charges of corruption and murder on a mere technicality (Reuters, 2015: np). Mubarak was a kleptocratic despot whose legacy includes death, blood, fear, and a deeply troubled country. He did not operate in a vacuum, and he was aided by the most powerful regimes in the world. But that does not excuse the outcome – nor does it justify the continuance of such behaviour. Those choosing to play in the dirty sandbox of blood and money in today’s shadow economy will have either dismissed the importance of the Arab Spring’s impact on security and human rights or cynically regarded the situation as yet another opportunity from which to leverage additional millions.  I argue that humanity can no longer afford such cynicism.

I further assert these same actors will have understood President Goodluck Jonathan’s dismissal of his bank governor following the well-intended public servant’s disclosure to the ‘Nigerian Senate that the treasury was missing billions of dollars in expected oil revenue’ (Wolf, 2014: 5). Indeed, Jonathan and his cronies seemed content to turn a blind eye to the networks which channelled money and arms to Boko Haram while leaving security forces ill equipped to quell an uprising which has now left more than 10,000 civilians and security personnel dead at the hands of Islamist savagery (Foreign Policy, 2015: np).

The kleptocrats will have further monitored the toppling of corrupt regimes in Tunisia and the Ukraine and reacted like narcissistic sociopaths unable to emotionally register the gravity of their actions, while concurrently making plans to fly to safety while maintaining access to their ill-gotten gains if the same danger knocks on their door.

The impunity enjoyed by this cohort, and structured into our globalised economy, has paved the way for much of the harm we see unfolding on the world’s stage. It has also provided resonant and compelling reasons from which the so called Islamic State, Boko Haram, and the Taliban find a seemingly endless supply of recruits (Chayes, 2007: 22, and Woodrow Wilson Center, 2016: np, and Schirch as cited in Mertus and Helsing, 2009: 68).

Whether knowingly or not, every last player in the shadow economy has contributed to an encroaching threat against humanity and which serves as nothing short of a security threat multiplier. It is of epic and global proportions.

The 2014 Ebola crisis in West Africa provides an immediate example of how easily corruption might impact security on a global scale. UN donor contributions topping $5.2bn were dispersed to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.  Almost all of it vanished, and only a fraction of the disbursement was ever audited. ‘In all three countries, no individual has been tried, much less convicted, for their role in the mismanagement of money meant to save the lives of the dying’ (Al Jazeera, 2016: np.).  These funds were also intended to contain the outbreak and prevent its spread.  The UN’s Global Ebola Response data refers to the outbreak’s nature as having been of ‘widespread and intense transmission’ (UN, 2014: np). But to date, the myriad pages and resources on their website speak only of a level of need and the current status of the situation.  Their silence of the flagrant misappropriation of funds perpetuates impunity.  And such complicit behaviour could very well facilitate a new pandemic of Ebola or some other virus, which experts warn could be incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to halt if not contained early, and with the utmost care; care which could never result in the face of another round of missing but badly needs funds (Oxford Martin School, 2012: np).

Grand Corruption further impacts security by destabilising regions in concussive shock waves. As migrants flee corrupt regimes and insurgencies (again, simultaneously fostered by the shadow economy), we see communities decimated, resentments grow, borders close, and trust diminish. (BBCa 2015: np,). Actions originating thousands of miles away from Europe’s shores are now threatening the cohesiveness of European states and the long architected interdependence of the EU.   The Schengen Agreement is further threatened as once ceded sovereignty is being repossessed by politicians seeking to erect borders and control the influx of desperate people fleeing the regimes which grand corruption has enabled.

Finally, kleptocracy feeds the thickening of the crime-conflict nexus as human traffickers, arms dealers, and smugglers share mutually beneficial relationships with terrorists, insurgents and the ruling elite. The nexus will continue to thicken so long as the chaotic conditions and lack of governance resulting from unabated kleptocracy ensures the conditions favourable to its growth.  (see Patrick, 2009,  and Lacher, 2012, and McMullin, 2009, and Jesperson, 2015 and Sloan and Cockayne, 2011).

And it is for these reasons, and so many more, that we must strive to end impunity for grand corruption – and the shadow economy in which it thrives.   Such a task will require concerted, relentless multilateral efforts and incredible political will.  But it can, and must be done.

We can begin by seizing opportunity from the momentum gathering in the wake of the Panama Papers and the associated Unaoil scandals in current headlines.  We can further reach out across the international community and form inter-organisational working teams to apply pressure on host-countries, the Bretton Woods institutions, and home governments.   We can institute training programs which dispel the activities which remain shrouded in mystery but whose reality can be unpacked in simple terms.  But most of all, we must challenge the sovereignty of those countries who refuse to participate in fair trade and good governance – and we must have an international court with both the will and capacity to challenge the problem.  And that court must somehow operate separately from the arbitrary and political interests of the United Nations Permanent 5.

But it has to start. Impunity has to end. And accountability must follow. And never has there been a more pressing time.

Postscript

As a post-script to my previous position piece, I would like to gently assert that the International Community has understandably tolerated grand corruption in the theatres of peacekeeping and peacebuilding operations. The conditions in many of these theatres have necessitated that our precious resources be used first to protect lives and second to institute the ground-level security needed to maintain sufficient equilibrium from which to begin the long, hard institutionalisation of security sector reform, transitional justice, and micro-development projects.  But this too provides another reason why the solution to grand corruption requires an international effort outside the influence of the P5 (whose own members might be guilty of grand corruption or geopolitics).  We must seek a solution which can pre-empt the looting of banks and act independently of outside political agendas which might situate a vulnerable country between winning and losing scenarios as powerful countries battle for control by proxy. We need a solution which sends a clear signal to corrupt elites across the entire world, and not simply those situated in areas of conflict, that corruption will no longer be tolerated, nor paid for by blood of innocent people.  But we, the donor countries, must see to our own houses first.  We must ensure our hands are clean and that any authority we exercise is comprised of substance and never hollow in its nature. We must lead from the front, and from genuine experience.  But we simply cannot afford to turn away from this issue – at home or abroad.  People are dying by guns and by starvation; and they are dying by torture when taking action to stop the atrocity at hand while having inadequate support behind and beside them.  We must be that support.

References

Al Jazeera Media (2016) The plunder of west Africa Ebola funds. Available at: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2016/01/plunder-west-africa-ebola-funds-160125140155872.html (Accessed: 6 April 2016).

BBC (2016) Migration and citizenship, start the week – BBC radio 4. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06ybg7h (Accessed: 3 April 2016).

BBC (2016) Panama papers: What the documents reveal. Available at: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-35956055 (Accessed: 6 April 2016).

Barrington, R. (2016) ‘Spot the Difference: Corruption Research, Academies and NGOs’, British Academy: British Academy. pp. 1–7.

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (2014) Corruption: The Unrecognized Threat to International Security. Available at: http://carnegieendowment.org/files/corruption_and_security.pdf (Accessed: 14 March 2015).

Chayes, S. (2007) ‘Days of Lies and Roses: Selling Out Afghanistan’, Boston Review, , pp. 21–23.

Foreign Policy (2015) In Nigeria, $2 Billion in Stolen Funds is Just a Drop in the Corruption Bucket. Available at: http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/11/18/in-nigeria-2-billion-in-stolen-funds-is-just-a-drop-in-the-corruption-bucket/ (Accessed: 20 November 2015).

Freedom House (2014) ‘Combating Impunity: Transnational Justice and Anti-Corruption’, Washington, DC: Freedom House. pp. 1–10.

Huffington Post (2016) Big Banks Aided Firm at Center of International Bribery Scandal. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/unaoil-citibank-hsbc_us_56feba02e4b0daf53aefa1da (Accessed: 6 April 2016).

Huffington Post (2016) There’s A huge new corporate corruption scandal. Here’s why everyone should care. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/unaoil-bribery-scandal-corruption_us_56fa2b06e4b014d3fe2408b9 (Accessed: 6 April 2016).

ICIJ (2016) Giant leak of offshore financial records exposes global array of crime and corruption. Available at: https://panamapapers.icij.org/20160403-panama-papers-global-overview.html (Accessed: 6 April 2016).

ICIJ (2016) The Panama papers. Available at: https://panamapapers.icij.org/ (Accessed: 6 April 2016).

Jesperson, S. (2015) ‘Development Engagement with Organized Crime: a Necessary Shift or Further Securitisation?’, Conflict, Security, & Development, 15(1), pp. 23–50.

Johnson, S. (2009) The Quiet Coup. Available at: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/05/the-quiet-coup/307364/ (Accessed: 6 April 2016).

Lacher, W. (2012) Organized Crime and Conflict in the Sahel-Sahara Region.

McMullin, J. (2009) ‘Organised Criminal Groups and Conflicts: The Nature and Consequences of Interdependence’, Civil Wars, 11(1), pp. 75–102.

Napoleoni, L. (2003) Modern Jihad: Tracing the Dollars Behind the Terror Networks. London: Pluto Press.

Oxfam International (2015) Richest 1% will own more than all the rest by 2016. Available at: https://www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/pressreleases/2015-01-19/richest-1-will-own-more-all-rest-2016 (Accessed: 6 April 2016).

Oxford Martin School (2012) Pandemics – can we eliminate major worldwide epidemics? | videos. Available at: http://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/videos/view/208 (Accessed: 4 April 2016).

Patrick, S. (2011) Weak Links: Fragile States, Global Threats, and International Security. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Reuters (2015) Egypt’s high court overturns last conviction against Mubarak. Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-egypt-mubarak-idUSKBN0KM0O620150113 (Accessed: 6 April 2016).

Schirch, L. (2006) Human Rights & Conflict: Exploring the Links between Rights, Law, and Peacebuilding. Edited by Julie A Mertus and Jeffrey W Helsing. Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace.

Sloan, B. and Cockayne, J. (2011) ‘Terrorism, Crime, and Conflict: Exploiting the Differences Among Transnational Threats?’, Policy Brief, , pp. 1–11.

Transparency International (2008) ‘Human Rights and Corruption’, Working Paper, 05, pp. 1–6.

United Nations (2014) Global Ebola crisis response | data. Available at: http://www.un.org/ebolaresponse/data.shtml (Accessed: 6 April 2016).

Wolf, M.L. (2014) ‘The Case for an International Anti-Corruption Court’, Governance Studies at Brookings, July, pp. 1–15.

Woodrow Wilson Center (2016) Combatting grand corruption internationally. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GN6HDEgiSc8 (Accessed: 6 April 2016).

Where are all the women? – Jane Townsley

Across the World there continue to be lost opportunities to build security and justice in post conflict environments by the marginalisation of women. It doesn’t make sense not to include those who can represent the needs and expectations of half the population. In the words of US Secretary of State John Kerry “no team can possibly win leaving half of the team on the bench” (Kerry, 2014 n.p.).

Women play a key role in our societies, they know what is happening within local communities and in many cases are able to influence others, including within traditional societies, where mothers have an important role to play in guiding the future path of their children. So when post conflict reform programs are being designed women need to be included in that process and in their subsequent delivery. There is evidence that when security actors take into account the differing needs of both men and women the likelihood of achieving their objectives is increased (Whiteman & O’Neill, 2012).

Focusing in particular on police reform the lack of involvement of women in certain environments particularly post conflict is shameful. According to Abbas (2016) the expansion of women’s role in law enforcement as well as the broader criminal justice system ‘Is the key necessary element to open the doors of peace and harmony around the globe. It is especially so in conflict zones and regions facing socioeconomic turbulence and instability”.

Gender responsive policing is about ensuring the needs of men and women, boys and girls are taken into account equally when delivering policing services as well as the needs of those men and women working within the police. In most cases the creation of a fully gender responsive police service within a post conflict environment requires not only increasing the number of women but also ensuring all officers are professionally trained and equipped to provide the best services to the communities they are there to protect. This does not mean that women should be restricted to non operational back office roles or that they alone should deal with women and children victims. Women officers can make a valuable contribution to operational roles, just their presence in hostile situations can defuse tensions. It is essential that male officers too have an awareness of the needs and expectations of women within society if trust and confidence is to be built for sustainable security and justice.  As stated by Bastick (2008:5) ”SSR efforts should, however not treat young men primarily as a security risk and women and girls primarily as victims”.

The status of women in law enforcement and governance is reflective of the status of women in communities which, in turn, determines a government’s ability to respond effectively to conflict (Bird, Townsley, 2015). Increasing access to justice for victims of gender based violence, something that is often prolific following conflict and disproportionately effects women and girls, is another benefit of gender responsive policing. In post-conflict societies it is far more likely that female victims would be dealt with by male officers, probably at police stations where there are no victim friendly facilities. More women officers can provide victims with the courage to take their first steps into the justice system however they need relevant training. For example, just staffing violence against women units with women officers who have had no specific training will do nothing to increase trust and confidence. Equally, professionally trained male officers can provide the necessary support and understanding required.

Where the numbers of women have been increased in policing within post-conflict environments they often are subject to discriminatory practices. In Pakistan, female officers make up less than 1% of police numbers and lack basic equipment, they are also discriminated against when it comes to nominations for training (Peters, Chughtai, 2014). In Afghanistan, where there is only 1 female officer for every 10,000 women (OXFAM, 2013) policewomen are often side lined into demeaning roles, abused and even killed (IAWP, 2014) “If you cannot safeguard women in the police, how can you possibly improve the situation for women in the community?” (IAWP, 2014: 1).

There is a disproportionate impact from conflict on women and girls when it comes to security and justice, yet they continue to be excluded from many post-conflict reform programs. Despite many advocates that the inclusion of women is essential for lasting peace, progress continues to be slow. Within security reform recruiting more women to the police alone will not solve the problem, policies and procedures need revising to create a fully inclusive police service. In order to achieve ‘real’ change, gender mainstreaming need to be replicated across the entire criminal justice system.

Postscript:

Why hasn’t effective action been taken to address the issues outlined above? A number of reasons exist but the overriding one is a lack of accountability. Who can hold governments to account? In post-conflict settings there is often at the start of reform and rebuilding processes institutions and government structures are broken if not totally collapsed. International actors including UN Peacekeepers can become involved but even then where does the true accountability lie? The only United Nations body with any ‘authority’ is the security council yet still atrocities persist across the globe, sometimes right under the noses of UN Peacekeepers such as in Rwanda and Bosnia.

The UNSC Resolution 1325 (2000) is specific about the role women should play in peacekeeping and peace building yet where is the accountability when so many member states still do not have National Action Plans 16 years after 1325 was accepted? Still only 60 member states have produced their plans (Institute for Inclusive Security, 2016n.p.). The achievement of the Millennium Development Goals did not succeed by 2015, again who holds governments to account? We now have the Sustainable Development Goals #16 ‘Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions’ (UN, 2016) being the most relevant to this paper. How will they be monitored and governments held to account? The UN Security Council was established following the end of WWII yet the World is a different place now and perhaps the make up of the permanent members of the security council is overdue a review something even Kofi Annan recognised whilst he was the UN Secretary General (Annan, 2013:142) as he stated, “For the Security Council to enjoy legitimacy in the twenty-first century, it needs to be not only effective but also representative” He went on to state, “The problem will not be that such countries will actively oppose the Security Council. It’s that they will ignore it” (Annan, 2013: 142).

References

Abbas, H. (2016) ‘Women Fighting for Peace: Lessons for Today’s Conflicts’ Committee on Foreign Affairs United States House of Representatives, Washington D.C.: USA, 22nd March 2016.

Annan, K. (2013) Interventions: A Life in War and Peace, New York: Penguin.

Bastick, M. (2008) Integrating Gender in Post-Conflict Security Sector Reform Policy Paper 29, Geneva: Geneva Centre for Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF).

Bird, E. and Townsley, J. (2015) ‘Background’ Gender Agenda International, Sheffield: Flinch Design.

IAWP (International Association of Women Police) (2014) ‘Police Women in Afghanistan’ IAWP Campaign Briefing Paper, http://www.iawp.org/campaigns/Afghanistan/IAWPAfghanistanCampaign.pdf  (accessed 4th April 2016).

Institute for Inclusive Security (2016) National Action Plan Resource Centre http://actionplans.inclusivesecurity.org (accessed 4th Aril 2016).

Kerry, J. (2014) ‘Closing Remarks’ at Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, London: Excel Centre, London, UK, 13th June 2014.

OXFAM (2013) Women and the Afghan Police – Why a law enforcement agency that respects and protects females is crucial for progress, OXFAM Briefing Paper 173 http://www.oxfam.org/en/policy/women-afghan-police (accessed 4th April 2016).

Peters, A. and Chughtai, H. (2014) ‘Why Pakistan Needs a Few More Good Women’ Foreign Policy http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/07/29/why-pakistan-needs-a-few-more-good-women/ (accessed 4th April 2016).

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) S/Res/1325 (2000), New York: United Nations.

United Nations (2016) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org (accessed 4th April 2016).

Whiteman, T. and O’Neill, J. (2012) Attention to Gender Increases Security in Operations: Examples from the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), Washington D.C.: The Institute for Inclusive Security.

Corruption – Gregory Pye

Reflecting on the course content carefully, the author has selected corruption as a topic for further discussion. Although included in course content, it is the view of the author that the subject does not have the degree of prominence necessary, to reflect the true reality and importance of corruptive practices, with which individuals working and living in post conflict situations, have to contend on a daily basis. Having lived and worked in Afghanistan for a number of years, the author is confronted by corruptive behaviours, at all levels of society, as an integral part of daily living and working experiences. Beyond the daily expectations of IED,s, Taliban attacks, suicide bombers and hashish fuelled hostility, the single foremost element which generates antagonism, frustration and personal conflict amongst international workers, is the endemic corruption, which prevails across the country. Corruption, by its very nature can be difficult to detect, as the serious Fraud Office indicates (Serious Fraud Office, 2015) the process involves two or more people entering into a secret agreement. Corruption watchdog of transparency International, indicate that corruption can involve abuse of power and resources at any level, within any sector, including businesses, public institutions and the government. (Transparency International global coalition against corruption, 2014). Corruption poses a fundamental threat by diverting public resources into private hands, away from those who should be benefiting directly in post conflict environments and continues to be a major obstacle to poverty alleviation, development and the building of security and justice. The range of activities can be considerable, encompassing as it does, accepting bribes, double dealing, under table transactions, diverting funds, manipulating officials and elections, money laundering and defrauding investors (Investopedia, 2015).

Achieving stability and security is a top priority for any intervention by the international community in an unstable post conflict country. Corruption is potentially fatal to long term stability and security and therefore countering it should be considered a pressing fundamental objective. It is difficult to read accounts about Afghanistan, without reference to multiple references to corruption. Afghanistan remains one of the worst performing countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, ranking in the bottom four in 2014, along with Sudan, North Korea and Somalia (Transparency International, 2014). Scandals range from the Kabul Bank misappropriation of 93 million dollars and the suspension of IMF support, (BBC, 2014) to articles concerning provincial and district police chiefs buying their positions for$100,000. Incredulous as these reports may seem, the author can recount numerous occasions where he has had to fight against corruption at great personal threat to his life. For example in March 2014 the Medium Tax office (MTO) , based in Kabul, received $165,000 in ‘consultants tax’, this money never reached the company tax compliance account, it was taken by an MTO employee, who paid off the National Security Directorate (NDS), who then arrested the author and warned him that this matter should be ‘left alone’! A further reality is the need to carry $1000 in a money belt in order to deal with daily confrontations by police and officials. The levels of corruption in the country are extreme. According to a recent Asia Foundation Study, in 2014, 62.4% of Afghans reported that corruption was a major problem (Asia Foundation, 2014)

In 2012, the Afghan population considered corruption, together with insecurity and unemployment, to be one of the principal challenges facing their country, ahead of even poverty, security, external influence and government inefficiency (UNODC, 2012). Afghanistan has national anti corruption plans, laws, executive decrees and Government instruments all devoted to the fight against corruption, particular the High Office of Oversight and Anti Corruption (HOO), is mandated to co-ordinate and implement the national strategy. Inspite of the continuing efforts of this body, together with the Police, courts, Attorney General’s Office and a plethora of other related organisations, corruption continues to escalate unabated.

The causes are variable and complex. In an attempt to determine and analyse underlying processes, an insight into the historical, economy, social structure, cultural and religious practices of the Afghan Nation is elemental. Poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, weak government, drug trafficking and fear, are all instrumental factors in perpetuating an apparently intractable situation. As Lockheart, 2014, suggested, ‘The nexus of security, conflict and international development is new and a comparatively understudied area of work’ (Lockheart, 2014).

The same level of limited academic scrutiny can also be said to exist in the field of corruption research. Solutions are multifaceted, lengthy to implement and many lessons are yet to emerge from work being conducted in combating corruption in a number of post conflict countries, which may be significant in addressing the problems in Afghanistan. However, a positive approach and concerted actions, must be maintained, coupled with the encouragement of greater transparency, surveillance, detection, prosecution and eradication of corrupt norms, at all levels. The work of anti-corruption bodies requires enhanced governmental support, manpower and financial underpinning. This must be married to important associate long term strategies, such as employment creation, increase in public employee wages, reduction in poverty, eradication of drug trafficking, development of robust judicial systems and most crucially the regeneration of trust amongst the populous.

Postscript

Corruption persists in highly corrupt countries because it is not only difficult to monitor and therefore, prosecute, but also, when it is systematically pervasive, people may lack the incentives or initiative, to instigate counter measures. When considering corruption as a deep seated problem, it is perhaps important to examine two sets of dynamics which may be at interplay amongst those contemplating corruptive behaviour. Decisions to indulge in corruption are based on personal choice, coercion or group dynamics and at the same time, surveillance, monitoring, transparency and systems of prosecution, are all variables which may influence an individual’s calculations of whether to engage in corruption.

Anti-corruption activities need to be tailored to context and a thorough understanding of the dynamics of contextual factors is required. For example, greater transparency could be resisted by those in power for fear of exposure of wider pervasive practices.

Individual character, honesty and trust are vitally important, when considering suitability for key appointments. Individuals who are prepared to work within acceptable norms within culture, society, business, legal systems and government Clean up campaigns are only successful when there is a moral consensus behind them.

Measures which will undoubtedly assist in reducing corruption, should be actively engendered. Such measures include inclusiveness, increased dialogue between all stakeholders and continuing review and amendment of anti-corruption plans. Scrutiny should address roles, responsibilities, resourcing and effectiveness. Intractable problems such as corruption cannot always be eliminated completely but with commitment, dedication and resilience, it should be possible over time to contain the problem within acceptable limits.

References

BBC . (2011). Afghan row over failed bank threatens salaries. Available: http//www.bbc.co.uk/newa/world-south-east-asia-13847292). Last accessed 14th February 2015.

Lockheart, C. (2014). Building Security and Justice in Post Conflict Environmen. : A Reader.Proceedings of 2014 Security, Conflict and International Development (SCID) Symposium.. 1 (14), 4-8.

Serious Fraud Office . (2015). Bribery Corruption. Available: http://www.sfo.gov.uk>bribery & corruption. Last accessed 22nd March 2015.

Transparency International. (2014). Transparency International global coalition against corruption. 2014).. Available: http://cpi.trancparency.org/cpi2013/results/). Last accessed 14th February 2015.

UNODC. (2012). Afghanistan: Recent Patterns and Trends. Available: http://anti-corruption.gov.af/en/page/1783/8477.2015). In. Last accessed 15th February 2015.

Prospects for Peace in Colombia: Inequalities, Denial and the Undeserving Poor

In the blog post linked at the end of this paragraph, Nathan Tuffin, Portfolio Manager with the Languages, Literature & International Engagement Section of AHRC talks about the experiences at the Post-Conflict Research Workshop, held in Bogota and Medellin, Colombia last month – Source: A Blog from Colombia – An AHRC perspective.

UK-Colombia Post-Conflict Research Workshop

I attended the Post-Conflict Research Workshop organised jointly by the Research Councils UK (RCUK) and the Government of Colombia, held last month in Colombia. During the Workshop the dynamics of the conflict and the prospective peacebuilding challenges were considered, and priorities were identified in terms of areas where academic researchers can help contribute to addressing these challenges. I thought the blog post linked to above might be of interest to some of you – I will share the identified priorities and outcomes once they are formalised. I also wanted to share some further thoughts on my visit to Colombia, in the hope that some of you will comment (which I would find very helpful) or write short blog posts on your views of a conflict-affected environment you work in, have visited, or have read about.

First Impressions of Colombia – Challenges, Complexity and Capacity

This Workshop and my short visit to Colombia left me with an impression of the enormity of the challenges facing a country that has seen 50 years of conflict. It is also a highly complex conflict, not least in terms of how it has changed over time; the hundreds of thousands of victims; the many different actors involved, their activities and alliances which also fluctuate over time; and the way in which the conflict affects different geographic areas and socio-economic groups differently. Indeed, it seems the only constant factor in the conflict has been that the poor and the marginalised have disproportionately suffered – even in places less afflicted by the conflict – as it often is in conflicts worldwide.

IMG_4916Aside from the enormity of the challenge, I was also struck by the capacity that exists within Colombia to address these challenges. Aside from the institutions (often afflicted by corruption) and the legislative framework (comprehensive but not always adhered to), the strength of civil society was what impressed me the most: the number of human rights defenders, lawyers, academics, journalists, as well as indigenous, Afro-Colombian, peasant farmer and other community leaders – and the quality of their work, their commitment to peace and their courage. While this capacity exists, many are threatened and have been killed by guerrilla and paramilitary groups, especially if their focus of attention is on the activities of powerful or clandestine groups. Colombia has one of the worst records of assassinations of human rights defenders: last year, over 54 human rights defenders were killed (The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, 2016), which constitutes about a third of all deaths of human rights defenders that year across the world (Front Line Defenders, 2016).

False Positives

I was also left with two other lasting impressions; lasting because what I saw and heard I found hard to make sense of. Firstly, the issue of ‘false positives’: this concerns the routine execution of civilians (generally poor and marginalised males, including homeless people, disabled people, farmers, children) by the Army between 2002 and 2008, who were subsequently dressed up to look like guerrilla fighters. This was in response to pressure on the Army to show more combat kills and further to calls for the success of the Army in the fight against FARC and ELN to be judged in terms of blood shed or rather number of guerrillas killed. While the FARC and ELN were trained guerrilla fighters and, in some cases, in cahoots with the state armed forces, it was often more expedient to kill poor people and then dress them up as FARC or ELN soldiers. People were lured away to remote areas with the promise of jobs and then killed, dressed as guerrilla fighters with weapon placed in hands, and photographed. Evidence could no longer be ignored when photos showed a young disabled man who had been killed who had recently been reported missing in a city far away; he was clearly unable to properly hold let alone shoot a gun (and he, along with most of the other false positives, had never had any association with guerrilla groups). Other photos showed shoes on the wrong feet and uniforms without bullet holes over bodies that had been shot. Over 3,000 people were killed and evidence shows that engagement in extrajudicial killings was systematic and widespread throughout the Army (information from interviews – see also Human Rights Watch, 2015, and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers Collective (CAJAR), 2012).

Denial

Secondly, in parts of Colombia it is easy to overlook the fact that a conflict is on-going, and in parts of Bogota it is even easy to imagine there is no insecurity, violence or hardship. This is part psycho-social, part geo-political and part communications strategy employed by the Government. In Zona Rosa (Bogota’s Pink Zone) there are many malls, designer shops and restaurants. Only a kilometre or so away are slums and large, highly impoverished communities. It is from these communities that many men were taken away and killed and presented as fallen guerrilla fighters by the state armed forces. People living and working in Zona Rosa and similar privileged areas are more likely to believe Government rhetoric and media reportage of terrorists rather than guerrilla fighters, and the undeserving rather than victimised poor, precisely because they see little evidence of insecurity, injustice or conflict. They are less inclined to be supportive of the peace process, believing it constitutes negotiating with terrorists. They might also be assumed to be less supportive of an eventual peace process, if the voices of victims are to be heard, if history is to be examined and memorialised, and if financial support in the form of increased taxes is to be sought to pay for the necessary peacebuilding programmes (land restitution, transitional justice, DDR etc.).

Psychologically and socio-politically, it is very difficult to move beyond oppression, victimisation and atrocity without an acceptance that is has occurred and was wrong. In his outstanding book, Stanley Cohen (2001) talks about ‘states of denial’, which is when people, governments and societies know about atrocities but ignore them. To assume responsibility for not taking action, or taking a stand when it could have been taken, is very difficult at the individual level: narratives and stories are constructed, histories re-written, and blame reassigned, to avoid dealing with the pain or discomfort. In Colombia it was clear there was general awareness of the massive socio-economic inequalities that existed. I was also told that many members of the Army killed poor people not because they themselves were threatened if they did not but because they would be rewarded with a bonus, extra leave days or promotion. There was no denial of what was happening, and seemingly no insurmountable pressure to commit such atrocities; but there was a reconstruction of the poor as undeserving, as lesser, as not ‘the good ones’ (as I was told was the phrase used in Colombia) and thus seemingly dispensable and irrelevant.

Prospects for Peace

Coupled with the stranglehold of organised crime on Colombian society, it is hard to envisage effective peacebuilding where there are such inequalities and injustices and little evidence that there is the political will to address these – no matter whether an Accord can grapple with the challenges of land ownership and restitution, DDR and ‘concentration zones’, and bottom-up peacebuilding (paz territorial).

When there is such inequality and such apparent disregard of the suffering of the poor and marginalised, it is hard to envisage how there can be a stable platform upon which successful peacebuilding can occur. Of fundamental importance to successful peacebuilding is the need to address structural inequalities if the dynamics which lead to conflict, violence and insecurity are to be changed: those dynamics which create the conditions for further victimisation and which also compound grievances. If there is a reluctance to acknowledge the injustice of massive disparities in wealth and opportunity, to witness the crimes suffered by the poor and dispossessed, and to acknowledge personal responsibility in contributing to a better society for everyone, there is little hope for building a more peaceful society. There can be no peace, if large sections of the population live without security, justice and opportunity. Moreover, if some, privileged groups do not acknowledge that there is a conflict (but only see terrorists and criminals and the undeserving poor) it is hard to envisage that there will be little commitment to the means necessary to resolve the conflict and build peace. To resolve conflict and build peace it is first necessary, of course, to accept that there has been a conflict – and from there begin to unpick the causes of that conflict.

Best wishes, Eleanor

References:

Front Line Defenders (2016) Annual Report 2016, Dublin: Front Line, the International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, available at https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/resource-publication/2016-annual-report.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) (2015) On Their Watch: Evidence of Senior Army Officers’ Responsibility for False Positive Killings in Colombia, New York: HRW, available at https://www.hrw.org/report/2015/06/24/their-watch/evidence-senior-army-officers-responsibility-false-positive-killings.

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) (2016) ‘IACHR Condemns Killings and Threats Directed against Human Rights Defenders in Colombia’, Press Release, 25 February 2015, available at http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/media_center/PReleases/2016/021.asp.

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers Collective (CAJAR) (2012) Colombia: The War is Measured in Litres of Blood, FIDH and CAJAR, available at https://www.fidh.org/IMG/pdf/rapp_colombie__juin_2012_anglais_def.pdf.

NATIONAL SECURITY IN COTE D’IVOIRE: 2 LAWS PASSED!

January 13th, 2016, President Ouattara of Cote D Ivoire, promulgated two major laws on National Security. On one hand the Law N°2016-09 related to the Programming of Internal Security Forces for the years 2016-2020 and on the other hand the Law N°2016-10, related to Military Programming for the years 2016-2020. Besides the legal dimension of these laws, we praise their existence for security systems in Ivory Coast. Indeed, these two laws were expected for several decades without being a priority for the successive governments until recently, in 2012. How is it possible that for many years, governments could not find any coherence between National Security functioning and its organization? Several reasons seem to have delayed the formulation of these laws, in particular the years of military crises which affected the country.

It is at the end of the political crisis of 2011, that security systems in Ivory Coast knew a period of significant reforms, materialized by the Security Sector Reform (SSR). This reform allowed between 2011 and 2015, to formulate the major texts of National Security among which, the Strategy for National Security and the SSR Strategy. Defence and Internal Security merged to make only one through National Security concept. The measures retained within the framework of the SSR program, were scheduled in their execution over several years by being classified as short, medium and long-term reforms. All the short-term reforms have been implemented, they included in particular the formulation of texts related to National Security.

Furthermore, what makes those two laws decisive, is the fact that they allow to rationalize the implementation of the National Security Policy. Indeed, these laws register the investments and the diverse expenses for security over 04 years in a coherence and an unprecedented programming. The real challenge thus becomes their effective implementation. From a point of view of National Security governance, these laws translate and imply a level of transparency, accountability and integrity on behalf of the security and defence institutions. Their promulgation makes them open to the public, for consultation and especially allows the National Assembly, to play completely its role of democratic scrutiny and control of those institutions.

Apparently, passing a law on a precise subject does not imply its effective consideration. It is for that reason, that it seems more than ever essential that both ministries (Defence and Security) in charge of the implementation of the promulgated laws, are equipped with follow-up and evaluation mechanisms. Moreover, the National Assembly through its specialized commissions will be responsible for monitoring the implementation of those two laws.

As a consequence, big challenges await the institutions concerned by these two laws, we focus on the following: 1/ the translation of both laws in specific implementation directives or sectorial Action plans at the operational level; 2/ the introduction of reframing, follow-up and evaluation mechanisms  for the effective implementation of both laws ; 3/ the adherence by all National Security actors to the execution of those two laws; 4/ the consideration of a set of measures to facilitate the cut in staff, the reorganization of the structures and the operational capacity building of security forces; 5/ the annual revision of the aforementioned laws by the National Assembly; 6/ the adaptability of the laws facing diffuse and evolving threats; 7/ a significant national effort to mobilize the resources necessary for the implementation of the two laws; 8/ the progressive empowerment of National Security forces through the creation of a national civilian-Defence Industry for the production of goods both for military and civilian use; 9/ the effective accountability of the security institutions through regular reports made available to the National Assembly as for the good execution of the measures contained in the laws and a publication of the annual results ; 10/ the preservation of a budgetary credibility!

By JF CURTIS

 

Places in Conflict & at Peace

Thanks Maren, for sharing this excellent resource (re-blogged below – I’m re-blogging rather than commenting so I can add a few images to give example to my otherwise broad-brushed, unsubstantiated statements below!). I think this resource is an invaluable tool for reflecting upon the way in which we analyse armed conflict as well as the assumptions many of us (as researchers, policy makers and practitioners) have when it comes to armed conflict (being elsewhere, in places labelled fragile, at risk or developing). As you say, it also provides a useful analytical tool for analysing the links between armed violence, organised crime and street gang insurgencies, as well as the impact of globalisation and socio-economic inequalities on conflict and security.

Last week I returned from a trip to the US (Atlanta) and Colombia (Bogota and Medellin). I had only been to the US a few times fleetingly and never visited Colombia before now. The specific places I visited are unique and also not representative of the wider respective countries. However, what particularly struck me was that both demonstrated evidence of massive socio-economic inequalities, high levels of poverty, and anger among some groups towards their respective governments. I was most shocked (though unsurprised) at the extent and nature of the human rights violations and violence against civilians in Colombia, high levels of corruption and collusion between ostensibly opposing groups (government, paramilitary, guerrilla), and the disregard among many of the privileged for the suffering of the marginalised and impoverished (to the extent that you could hardly imagine a conflict was going on in some parts of Bogota).

IMG_4929However, I was more shocked at the tension and aggression which seemed to seep into the corners of everyday life in Atlanta. Here massive billboards portrayed the good life (buy a coke and your life will be meaningful) while people slept on the streets below; there was an onslaught of noise and people who demanded you say how wonderful your day was (OK so I’m a grumpy Brit!); Trump and his vitriol was blaring out from TVs which were everywhere (OK the hotel I was staying in happened to be in the same building as CNN!); people told me how fed up they were with politics and foreigners and women not sticking by their unfaithful men; signs told me I’d have to leave my gun at home if I wanted to get on a plane (which to me is strange in a country not at war, at least on its own soil); and the overwhelming majority of the thousands of participants at the Convention I was attending were white, which smacked of neo-colonialism given the theme was peace, while the majority of people working in the hotels and sleeping on the streets were black. Perhaps I simply didn’t get enough sleep, but I kept seeing messages  about about pride and equity, which took on a disturbingly ironic tone in this context (for contrast the third image is from the National Centre for Civil and Human Rights which was outstanding, moving and highly informative – located in the centre of the business district next to the Coca Cola Museum, which appeared to be significantly more popular among tourists – no comment!).

I left the US and Colombia reflecting a bit deeper on our assumptions about places in conflict and places at so-called peace; assumptions about the way in which violence permeates most if not all societies and disproportionately affects the marginalised; and assumptions about the engagement of governments in so-called peaceful states in the dynamics of exclusion, violence and indeed conflict.

So, in short, I think we have a lot to learn about conflict by looking at the machinations of societies where there is peace. Conversely, we also have a lot to learn about peace by looking at the efforts many civilians make to protect themselves and their families, promote peace, and create peaceful communities, in places at war (which I hope to write about soon).

Best wishes, Eleanor

Original post by Maren Moon:

The link below  directs readers to a recent article from the  Small Wars Journal. 

While the subject matter falls outside the discipline of post-conflict studies, it nevertheless provides an opportunity for widening understanding on conflict prevention as it intersects with organised crime,  street gang insurgency, transnational threats, proxy actors, and the infiltration and undermining of law enforcement, military, and criminal justice systems. The article also provides a window for examining the dynamics of globalisation and the New Wars paradigm as they potentially threaten  ‘first world’ realities.

America’s Unacknowledged Insurgency: Addressing Street Gangs as Threats to National Security

America’s Unacknowledged Insurgency: Addressing Street Gangs as Threats to National Security

The link below  directs readers to a recent article from the  Small Wars Journal. 

While the subject matter falls outside the discipline of post-conflict studies, it nevertheless provides an opportunity for widening understanding on conflict prevention as it intersects with organised crime,  street gang insurgency, transnational threats, proxy actors, and the infiltration and undermining of law enforcement, military, and criminal justice systems. The article also provides a window for examining the dynamics of globalisation and the New Wars paradigm as they potentially threaten  ‘first world’ realities.

America’s Unacknowledged Insurgency: Addressing Street Gangs as Threats to National Security