The link between conflict and corruption


There is a statistically significant link between peace and corruption. Released this week, Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2015  found that South Sudan, Sudan, Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia are among the most corrupt countries in the world. They also rank in the bottom ten of the Global Peace Index.

Corruption and conflict go hand in hand
                           2015 Corruption Perceptions Index

Research by the Institute for Economics and Peace found that an increase in corruption often leads to a decrease in peace. Once a country reaches a certain level of corruption there is a tipping point at which small increases in corruption lead to large decreases in peace. In other words, corruption becomes so endemic that the likelihood of violence greatly increases.


The corruption levels of two institutions have a lager impact on peace than any others: police and the judiciary. These institutions underpin the rule of law in a country, high levels of corruption within them can lead to a breakdown of legal frameworks, as well as formal and informal codes of conduct, leading directly to an increase in the likelihood of crime and violence.

High levels of corruption can misdirect resources, compound inequities and undermine trust throughout society. The resulting inequities can lead to civil unrest and in extreme situations can be the catalyst for more serious violence. For example, according to the Corruption Perception Index, in Afghanistan millions of dollars meant for rebuilding the country have been reportedly wasted or stolen, undermining efforts to sustain peace.

“The human cost of corruption is huge, yet all too often leaders with notoriously corrupt records continue to enjoy lives of luxury at the expense of people living in grinding poverty.”
                          2015 Corruption Perceptions Index

Those who are benefiting from a corrupt system have an incentive to resist or undermine change. As a result, corruption can be one of the most challenging factors of peacefulness to address. Low levels of corruption, by contrast, can enhance confidence and trust in institutions.

Building Peace

Managing corruption is one of the most important factors for building peaceful societies.

The Institute for Economics and Peace found low levels of corruption to be one of eight key factors exhibited by the world’s most peaceful societies. Direct anti-corruption strategies are also important. Transparency laws, fact-finding commissions and audits, among other tools, can be effective in reducing corruption.

The Corruption Perceptions Index

The Corruption Perceptions Index measures perceived levels of public sector corruption worldwide. According to the Index, 68 per cent of countries worldwide have a serious corruption problem. More than that, no country is corruption-free.

However, more countries improved than those that declined. Greece, Senegal and the UK were noted improvers this year. However Australia, Brazil, Libya, Spain and Turkey deteriorated. The Institute for Economics’ and Peace uses Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index as one of three key data sources to measure corruption levels in the Positive Peace framework and index. 

Related Articles

Positive Peace Report 2015

This report introduces new thinking and evidence about Positive Peace: the attitudes, institutions and structures which create and sustain peaceful societies.


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