Corruption and Peace


The 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index, released yesterday by Transparency International, shows that corruption, much like violence and conflict, undermines economic growth and inhibits development. As the Global Peace Index shows the world is becoming increasingly less peaceful, the Corruption Perceptions Index similarly finds that the world is becoming increasingly corrupt, with more than two-thirds of the 175 countries on the index scoring below 50.

If we look at the levels of peace in a society, we can see they are very much associated with the amount of corruption it experiences. If we take a look at the top 10 most peaceful countries and the top 10 least corrupt countries we also see a lot of similarities. Five countries rank in the top 10 for both indices: Denmark, New Zealand, Finland, Norway and Canada. Same thing happens when we take a look at the world’s least peaceful and most corrupt countries, we see Iraq, South Sudan, Sudan, Afghanistan, North Korea, and Somalia among the worst 10.

What is corruption and how does it impact on levels of peace?

Corruption exists in many forms, and can vary widely between countries and cultures, but generally describes the manipulation of a private or public position by an individual to gain undue personal advantage. Corruption can be petty, such as in cases where public officials demand bribes in return for implementing laws, regulations, and permits, or it can be grand, where high level politicians use embezzlement and clientelism to consolidate support.

No matter what form it takes, however, corruption is always damaging to society, as it undermines public trust in institutions necessary for peacebuilding.  This is particularly true of institutions such as the police forces and the military that are usually the primary guarantors of public security in society. When the rule of law is undermined by a corrupt police and judiciary, public trust and the capacity of the state to enforce basic rules is also undermined.

Low levels of Corruption is one of the eight key factors that underpin peaceful societies. The Pillars of Peace, a framework developed by the Institute for Economics and Peace, identifies the attitudes, structures and institutions that underpin peaceful societies. Find out more here

Upcoming research on corruption and peace

In order to delve deeper into the link between corruption and peace, the Institute for Economics and Peace is busying putting together a research report that will analyse the nature and extent of this sticky relationship. While we can't give away any of the findings yet, we can tell you that it will be released in early 2015. Follow @GlobPeaceIndex or subscribe to our newsletter list for more details. 

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On the International Anti-Corruption Day we release the first in a series of posts about peace and corruption.


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More than half of people believe the level of corruption in their countries has increased over the past two years, according to Transparency International


Low Levels of Corruption

Low Levels of Corruption is one of the eight “Pillars of Peace” that describe the attitudes, structures and institutions that underpin peaceful societies.


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