Weekly Briefing: Claims of Grand Corruption in South Sudan

Friday, 20 September 2019: George Clooney’s and ex-US state advisor John Prendergast’s investigative organisation, The Sentry, have unveiled a hard-hitting report alleging links between high-level corruption in South Sudan, global corporations and foreign governments.

More than 60 pages, the report profiles international actors that have allegedly provided support to South Sudanese militias involved in the civil conflict since 2013, as well as other perpetrators of violence and human rights abuses.

The report claims billions of dollars were accumulated through the plundering of the country’s rich natural resources, while local communities suffered.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Human Rights Commission for South Sudan this week alerted the international community to the widespread starvation lingering under the backdrop of political deadlock left after last year’s peace agreement.

South Sudan represents the biggest refugee crisis in Africa, with more than two million refugees and asylum seekers, and another two million people displaced internally.

South Sudan By the numbers

161 – South Sudan’s ranking out of 163 countries on the 2019 Global Peace Index

160 – South Sudan’s Ongoing Conflict ranking out of 163 countries

162 – South Sudan’s domestic Safety and Security ranking out of 163 countries

Positive Peace and corruption

Low Levels of Corruption is one of the eight pillars of Positive Peace. In the context of building peace, this pillar can enhance confidence and trust in institutions.

In societies with high levels of corruption, inefficient resource allocation often leads to a lack of funding for essential services and civil unrest.

Corruption inhibits transparency, increases transaction costs and lowers business efficiency, which are factors that establish hurdles to domestic and foreign investment. Often foreigners seeking to invest in emerging countries face the challenge of dealing with officials demanding bribes.

Well-functioning government and low levels of corruption

Over the past ten years, trust in the national government, political processes such as elections, the judicial system and financial institutions has increased modestly on a global scale.

Growing confidence in these institutions correlates with improvements in Positive Peace over the past decade. There was a weak but statistically significant correlation between changes in confidence in the judicial system and financial institutions, and actual changes in Positive Peace.

Beyond corruption in South Sudan: Perceptions of institutional competency vary significantly from region to region.

South America has the lowest faith in government, with 77% of respondents in the region believing their government was corrupt in 2018.

This region also had the largest increase in perceptions of corruption over the past decade, rising by eight percentage points. Deteriorations of over 20 percentage points in government confidence occurred in Uruguay, Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil.

The biggest improvement in confidence in institutions occurred in sub-Saharan Africa, with perceptions of corruption falling the most of any region in the last 10 years.

Perceptions of corruption decreased by 15 percentage points, and confidence in the national government rose by 11 percentage points.

The upward trend in confidence in the government in sub-Saharan Africa was driven by increases of 25 percentage points or more in Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Senegal, Mozambique and Niger.

These six countries ranked as the top risers in government trust globally.

Corruption influences all levels of peace

Low Levels of Corruption is the only pillar that is strongly statistically significant across all levels of peacefulness.

This table shows the correlations for each of the eight pillars of Positive Peace at each level of peace. A correlation coefficient of greater than r=0.45 indicates a strong relationship, while that above r=0.3 indicates a moderate relationship.

It demonstrates that as levels of violence fall, the strength of the Positive Peace correlations increase. Five of the pillars correlate with low peace countries, six with mid-peace countries, and all eight pillars correlate strongly in high peace countries.

There are tipping points where small increases in Positive Peace can trigger large changes in Global Peace Index scores. Tipping points occur for Low Levels of Corruption, as well as Equitable Distribution of Resources, Safety and Security, Sound Business Environment.

Source: 2018 Positive Peace Index Report

Corruption can precede declines in peace

A deterioration in the Low Levels of Corruption pillar, amongst others, can indicate that a country will decline in peacefulness.

At the pillar level, deteriorations in Low Levels of Corruption, Acceptance of the Rights of Others, Well-Functioning Government and Free Flow of Information are common leading indicators of future instability.

This chart highlights how many countries deteriorated on key indicators of Positive Peace prior to their deterioration in the GPI.