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Transparency International UK finds 33% of defence companies improved the transparency and quality of their anti-corruption programmes, but two-thirds don’t make the grade

Anti-corruption group calls on governments to require that contractors have ethics and anti-corruption programmes in place before bidding for defence work, to bring greater accountability

London, 27 April 2015 | New research by Transparency International UK today showed that 33% of companies studied in their Defence Companies Anti-Corruption Index 2015 have improved their ethics and anti-corruption programmes since 2012, but the industry as a whole still has a long way to go.

The Defence Companies Anti-Corruption Index 2015 measures the transparency and quality of ethics and anti-corruption programmes of 163 defence companies from 47 countries. Each company is ranked from band A (highest) to F (lowest) using publicly available information. Forty-two companies improved by one or more bands since 2012. A further third also showed some improvement.

“Corruption in defence affects us all. It is not just about commissions on sales—corruption can also directly threaten the lives of citizens and soldiers,” said Mark Pyman, Director of the Transparency International UK Defence and Security Programme. “Companies that have improved are taking the lead in bringing transparency to this often-secretive sector.”

Companies from Brazil, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, South Korea, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, the UK and the US improved by one band or more.

Nearly a quarter of companies show no evidence of anti-corruption programmes at all

Katie Fish, author of the report, said that “there’s still a long way to go. Two-thirds of the defence contractors in this study, which includes 36 more companies than the 2012 analysis, show little evidence of having ethics and anti-corruption programmes in place. This includes companies from most of the major arms producing countries”.

Based on public information,

  • Only eight companies have evidence of whistleblowing mechanisms that encourage reporting
  • Just 13 companies conduct regular due diligence on agents
  • Only three companies have evidence that they have detailed procedures to avoid corruption in offset contracts (also known as counter-trade), a high-risk area.

Governments should require anti-corruption programmes from bidding companies

Transparency International UK called for procurement chiefs in importing governments worldwide to demand robust anti-corruption standards of defence companies. “If government contracts are contingent on companies having an appropriate ethics and anti-corruption programme in place, it will create a step change towards greater accountability in the defence industry, and further the positive work being done by many defence companies today,” said Pyman.

Transparency International UK also called on governments to require that bidding companies publish their detailed offset obligations and performance assessments.

Investors too are part of the solution

“Corruption can mean major reputational and financial damage,” said Fish. “Investors should use this report to ask: do the companies we invest in have high-quality anti-corruption programmes in place?”


Press contact: Leah Wawro, + 44 (0)20 7922 7973 (office) +44 (0)78 9421 9638 (mobile), This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Notes for editors

163 defence companies from 47 countries were assessed using publicly available information relating to their ethics and anti-corruption programmes. TI-UK used a questionnaire of 41 indicators. Based on their assessment companies were placed in one of six bands, A to F. TI-UK also reviews internal company information. 63 companies provided internal information in 2015. TI-UK reviewed and discussed the internal documents provided with companies.

About the TI Defence & Security Programme (TI-DSP): TI-DSP works to build integrity and reduce corruption in defence and security establishments worldwide by supporting anti-corruption reforms in defence establishments and companies, and raising integrity in arms transfers. The programme is led by Transparency International UK (TI-UK) on behalf of the TI movement. For more information visit www.ti-

Media advisory: comparing the ethics and anti-corruption programmes of the world’s largest defence companies

Transparency International UK’s Defence and Security Programme will release its new Defence Companies Anti-Corruption Index online on 27 April, 2015, at 00:01 BST.

Photo: MINUSCA / Flickr.

This submission was originally presented to the Independent Review Panel on the UN Response to Allegations of Sexual Abuse by Foreign Military Forces in the Central African Republic on 14 August 2015.

Recent allegations of sexual abuse by foreign military forces in CAR, and the investigative process that followed, have demonstrated that sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) by peacekeeping troops, in which the actions of a small minority can undermine the credibility of a mission, is still an important challenge that the UN must continue to address. Current mechanisms for responding to allegations of malfeasance should and must be strengthened.

The abuses that took place in the Central African Republic (CAR) in 2014 when MINUSCA was in the process of being set up, and those that have followed since, have shown that there are serious gaps in investigation and oversight. These must not go unresolved.

The problem is not an isolated one. There have been similar incidents involving UN troops in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kosovo and Bosnia, and well-founded allegations of sexual misconduct by troops in Haiti, Burundi and Liberia. Such cases highlight the need for strengthened oversight and accountability to ensure that UN peace operations are conducted in a way that builds confidence and establishes peace and security for local populations.

A lack of oversight and weak accountability mechanisms allow corruption, sexual abuse, and other mission-threatening issues including organised crime and trafficking to thrive. Proper oversight and accountability is therefore vital to protecting the UN’s mission and credibility. The Report of the Secretary-General’s High Level Group on Peace Operations recognises that corruption is both a cause and consequence of conflict, and that stronger controls and practical support are needed.

Transparency International welcomes the Secretary General’s appointment of a panel to investigate the allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse in the CAR, and that its mandate includes a review of shortcomings in existing procedures covering serious crimes by UN and related personnel.

As part of its review of shortcomings in existing UN procedures, we recommend that the panel consider the following:

  • Strengthening oversight and ensuring investigations are fully independent. Allegations like those made by Anders Kompass should be immediately and thoroughly investigated by UN oversight bodies. Those oversight bodies must be entirely free from political influence in order to be effective, and they must conduct their investigations independently and impartially.
  • Introducing greater protection for whistleblowing and measures to incentivise whistleblowers to come forward. Individuals with the courage to bring allegations of corruption, sexual abuse, and other crimes to light must be strongly protected in law and practice, in accordance with Transparency International’s International Principles for Whistleblower Legislation. Individuals should be protected from all forms of retaliation, disadvantage or discrimination linked to or resulting from whistleblowing. Whistleblowing should be actively encouraged at all levels. The UN should strengthen mechanisms through which UN personnel, citizens, and contractors can report on malfeasance, and clearly identify how such allegations will be followed up in a transparent and robust way. The UN’s initial reaction to the Kompass case suggests a desire to suppress sensitive information rather than act on it.

Corruption and sexual exploitation and abuse thrive in environments where transparency and accountability are minimal and where systems that encourage those that have information to come forward are not well developed. Strengthening investigation and oversight, protecting whistleblowers and enhancing transparency will greatly enhance the effectiveness of UN peace operations and strengthen the support of the local population.

Photo: A member of 77th Brigade's Media Operations Group photographs soldiers. © Crown Copyright.

In January 2015, the British Army established 77th Brigade, an organisation designed to champion its non-lethal, non-military effects from cyber to civil affairs. In an innovative step, they have seconded one of their officers to Transparency International’s Defence and Security programme. So what is the army hoping to gain from having a man on the inside of the world’s leading anti-corruption outfit?

Much of today’s warfare takes place in fragile and failing states, where the rule of law and governance are broken, and where conventional tactics are a thing of the past. Achieving stability will require a comprehensive approach against an unconventional threat,, and the military must strive to earn and maintain the support of the population. The Taliban, ISIS and Boko Haram all recruit soldiers by drawing on deep public anger at the abuse of power for private gain by local officials. Corruption is a weapon in the hands of those who wish to see governments in conflict-affected states fail.

High levels of corruption also erode the capacity of defence and security institutions to tackle instability and insurgency. As British Army officer Sir Robert Thompson said, it is “futile to succeed in defeating the insurgency, especially by military means alone…if the result [is] a country which is not politically and economically viable.”1 When the Iraqi forces in Ramadi collapsed in the face of ISIS in May this year, the huge cost of investing in training and equipping militaries without tackling corruption and building integrity became clear. With an estimated 50,000 ghost soldiers on the payroll, soldiers who can bribe their way out of danger zones and a lucrative rewards system for superior officers who agree not to report soldiers as absent, the Iraqi army is ill equipped to stand against ISIS.

What does the army hope to get from a secondment to Transparency International?

Corruption is a direct threat to military operations, and yet countering corruption is an area of expertise notably absent from current UK military thinking. The key to successful military operations in the modern conflict environment must be interoperability: the ability to understand and operate in tandem with other organisations, specifically those that have essential skills. 77th Brigade aims to integrate the best talent from commerce, media, academia and public and social sectors to increase the network of understanding and support to non-military lines of operation. This involves tapping the Reserves and the civilian sector for talent not necessarily available within the military.

One of the major hopes of this placement scheme is to translate Transparency International’s work into something that the military not only understands but also believes in and will deliver. The anti-corruption tools that Transparency International is developing are essential instruments for the military to conduct operations with enduring success in the modern world.

What’s in it for Transparency International?

For an organisation which focusses on stopping corruption in defence and security establishments, military interventions, and the arms trade, it’s great to have the chance to integrate military experience directly into the team. The opportunity for alternative viewpoints and challenges to Transparency International’s assumptions will enhance the understanding in both organisations of corruption as a key driver of instability and the role of the military in turbulent times.

1 Sir Robert Thompson, Defeating Communist Insurgency: Experiences in Malaya and Vietnam (London: Chatto & Widus, 1966), p. 51.

Left to Right: Carlos Hernández (Director ASJ-TI Chapter and member of APJ), Omar Rivera (APJ- Coordinator), Manuel de Jesus Luna (Secretary General Ministry of Security), Julián Pacheco (Minister of Security), Félix Villanueva (National Police Director), Julieta Castellanos (Rector National Autonomous University of Honduras-Member of APJ), Luciana Torchiaro (TI-Secretariat Berlin).

23 March 2015 | Evan Trowbridge, La Asociación para una Sociedad más Justa (ASJ)

Read the report: Advocating for Peace, Justice and Security in Honduras

Since the establishment of the Alliance for Peace and Justice (APJ) in 2012, we have been encouraged by what the members of this diverse coalition have been able to achieve together. Through the combined participation of the more than 24 member organizations of the APJ, the Alliance has become an important voice for security and justice reform in Honduras.

In 2014, four new regional chapters of the APJ were opened, increasing the organisation’s ability to monitor and advocate on a regional basis across the country. A training programme developed by the APJ on the security and justice challenges facing Honduras was provided to more than 830 influential actors in the country. On top of this, the APJ has been savvy in increasing its reach through social media platforms and campaigns. As a result of the APJ’s work, a poll in Honduras found that 65 percent of the population was familiar with the APJ.

As the APJ’s recognition and local engagement has grown, so has its influence at the top levels of government. One example of this growth is that in 2013, the APJ pressured the Honduran national congress to hold leaders in the security and justice systems accountable for their performance. The leaders of a number of departments were subsequently investigated by Congress — including the heads of the Ministry of Security, the National Police, the Ministry of Defense, the Armed Forces, and the Attorney General’s Office — and it was found that “many operators of justice have conspired with criminals.” Following the investigations — and with the APJ’s prodding — Congress created an “Inspector’s Commission for the Attorney General’s Office,” which resulted in the firing of the State General Prosecutor, the Assistant Prosecutor, and the Minister of Security. The APJ’s strategy and participation in the investigations of prominent state officials can be considered an exemplary exercise of civil society participating in the democratic process in the context of corruption.

The APJ continues to play a prominent role in the media and in meetings with officials. Building on the work of the APJ and conversations with government officials, in October of 2014, one of the APJ’s founding members, the Association for a More Just Society (Transparency International’s chapter in Honduras) signed a major anti-corruption monitoring agreement with the Government of Honduras and Transparency International. And the Alliance continues to meet with and demand change from officials who are key to the APJ’s mission of reforming the country’s security and justice systems. As an example, just the week before the writing of this update, APJ met with the Honduran Minister of Security and the director of the National Police to express their united voice in the need to properly test and remove corrupt police officers, increase transparency and accountability of state security, and address’ the weaknesses in the criminal investigation system. The Honduran officials then invited the APJ to participate in the process of revising the foundational law for the National Police, so that it would respond to current context and challenges.

The APJ’s investigations also continue to undergird the alliance’s advocacy and citizen action work. For example, one study released in 2014 that found that only 4 percent of homicides in Honduras end in conviction. The study went on to examine the completion rates for separate stages of the investigative and judicial process. Studies like this are very helpful in pursuing reform in Honduras. This study also got international media attention.

In the context of the APJ’s work, good things are happening in Honduras, including improvements in the security and justice systems. Notably, the homicide rate has dropped from 87 per 100,000 in 2012 to 68 per 100,000 in 2014. Additionally, important corruption cases are being brought against government officials — most notably, Mario Zelaya Rojas, the ex-director of the social security institute, who was arrested in September 2014 and is accused of working with a network of co-conspirators to steal millions of dollars through his position. As improvements continue to take place in Honduras, the APJ will persist in its role of being a united voice for peace and justice.

Emily Knowles, Policy Officer - Security Policy | 13 July 2015

Last month the UN Secretary-General’s High Level Group on Peace Operations published its report. This is a timely intervention, as it comes at a moment when the UN has recognised that changes in conflict and increasing demands for peace support are outpacing the ability of UN peace operations to respond. Emphasizing the need for conflict prevention and mediation; protection of civilians; more clarity on the use of force; and more sustained political engagement by the international community, the report acknowledges a fact that is gaining attention from leaders like Obama and Cameron: corruption is both a cause and consequence of conflict.

Successful peacemaking means brokering reconciliation, promoting inclusion and neutralising drivers of conflict– exactly the sort of process that corrupt elites and politicised security forces are likely to resist. Countering corruption is therefore an essential part of breaking the cycle of violence in a country so that an inclusive peace can flourish. This is the first time that a major UN document has explored the role of corruption in driving conflict so explicitly, and it is a welcome step.

The report recommends that UN peace operations ensure their country analyses encompass the dynamics and drivers of corruption, advocate appropriate attention to it, and provide political support to those providing technical advice in this area. The UN General Assembly will debate the implementation of the report’s recommendations in the autumn. We have the following suggestions for those in the UN charged with turning the ideas of the report into reality:

  • Include anti-corruption in the mandates of peace operations. Supporting governments and security forces that are accountable to the public should be at the heart of operations, and operating with clear guidance will strengthen missions’ capacity to respond to other challenges such as organized crime. Countering corruption should be explicitly included in mission planning and mandates to ensure the mission can properly address these issues once it deploys.
  • Strengthen practical support on corruption for those on the ground on peace operations. Improve the training, tools, and guidance for UN peacekeepers so that those on operations know how to respond to corruption on the ground while maintaining the mission’s own integrity. The High Level Group proposes “political support” to those on the ground; it’s up to the implementation report to identify what this will look like, but if corruption is really to be tackled, it’s key.
  • Increase transparency. The UN should take the lead on increasing openness. Doing so will increase popular support for operations within the host country and increase the chances of success. In line with this, strengthen UN internal audit and policing processes. It’s important for UN missions to do, and be seen to be doing, the right thing.

The High Level Group’s report is a helpful step forward in making the destabilising nature of corruption, state capture and partisan security sectors clear. In taking it forward the UN has a real opportunity to attack the key issues, including corruption, that underpin today’s conflicts. If it does not take advantage of that opportunity there is a risk that its mission will fail.

Transparency International’s 2015 MSC panel: from left to right Vitali Klitschko, Carl Bildt, Sir Stewart Eldon, President Toomas Hendrik Ilves and Jean-Marie Guéhenno.

Tobias Hecht, 10 February 2015

Last year, Transparency International for the first time attended the Munich Security Conference (MSC) with the goal of getting corruption and it’s links to insecurity on the radar among policy makers. This year, we joined for the second time, and received support for our message from a well-known person: the Vice-President of the United States.

The main conference hall was again packed with decision-makers from all over the world when the sudden snapping of cameras announced Joseph Biden’s entrance. He focused his speech on three threats: “First, the attempt to undermine Ukrainian sovereignty; second, the use of corruption as an instrument to try to undermine governments; and, third, the use of energy as a tool of coercion.”

It’s worth citing at length the part of Biden’s speech that covered corruption:

“[A]s the story of Ukraine shows, there are multiple dimensions to European security. Hard military power of NATO, for sure, but also confronting corruption that's being used as a tool to undermine national sovereignty in other parts of Europe.

Corruption is a cancer. Those of you who watch Superman movies and [read] comic books, it is like kryptonite to the functioning of democracy. It siphons away resources. It destroys trust in government. It hollows out military readiness. And it affronts the dignity of your people.

But as President Putin and others engage in the use of corruption as a tool of coercion abroad, then fighting corruption is not just about good governance, it’s self-defense. It’s about sovereignty. Fighting corruption may not be easy, but it’s not a mystery how you go about doing it. It’s hard, but not a mystery -- transparency, disclosure, independent agencies, vetting police departments and judges, inspector generals in government agencies with the mandate and the freedom to investigate abuses.

Ukraine has taken bold steps toward a new Anti-Corruption Bureau, and it’s passed legislation to reform the Prosecutor General’s office. It has to be implemented now.”

Biden’s right on message: corruption is a dangerous threat to security and peace.

But what can be done about it?

Transparency International held a panel discussion at the MSC on “Tackling state fragility and failure: the corruption dimension.” The panel was made up of the President of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, former Swedish Prime and Foreign Minister, Carl Bildt, the Mayor of Kiev, Vitali Klitschko, and the President of the International Crisis Group, Jean-Marie Guéhenno.

This event was moderated by Sir Stewart Eldon, former UK ambassador to NATO and an advisor to the Defence and Security Programme of Transparency UK. He summarized the outcomes of the discussion:

  1. The problem of corruption is serious and urgent. It is now part of the security constellation – that message came out across the conference. We should not forget the role of the police in the security sector, who are often more closely in touch with the population than the defence forces.
  2. Corruption is not a “poor country problem.” The EU needs to look again at its regulations and their implementation.
  3. Learning from one another is a good way for improving security in a corruption context. Ukraine, for example, can learn lessons from Georgia’s experience of addressing corruption.
  4. Finally, there is a lot of material on e-governance available. Moving away from old fashioned systems into more modern techniques can increase transparency and accountability.

Corruption is a threat to stability and peace, and we need “a more comprehensive strategic approach”, as Edda Müller, Chair of Transparency Germany, wrote in The Security Times. Let’s hope that our new policy paper, Corruption threats to Stabilisation Missions and Defence Capacity Building: Establishing a better policy framework, helps understand the issue further and – above all – improve the accountability of international assistance for and in unstable environments.

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