chapter  4
18 Pages

Corrupting peace? Corruption, peacebuilding and reconstruction

ByPHILIPPE L E BILLON

Corruption has recently become a major item on the international security agenda (United Nations 2005). Many conflict-affected countries figure among those perceived to be the most corrupt in the world, and corruption is reported among the key concerns of local populations during the so-called post-conflict reconstruction period.1 Concerns among rich countries about corruption and security have largely focused on terrorism, narcotics, organized crime and ‘state failure’.2 Corruption is further perceived as an impediment to peacebuilding.3 By weakening the effectiveness and legitimacy of public institutions, undermining economic recovery, and jeopardizing international aid and foreign direct investment (FDI), corruption increases the risk of renewed violence and undermines the wellbeing and political empowerment of local populations (Bolongaita 2005; Le Billon 2005a, 2005b; Boucher et al. 2007; O’Donnell 2008). The pervasiveness of corruption in Bosnia, for example, is widely portrayed as a major cause of the country’s political and economic setbacks since the 1995 Dayton Accord (GAO 2000; International Crisis Group 2002a; Devine 2005). The most prominent United Nations report on peace operations argues that ‘support for the fight against corruption’ is the first priority among the ‘essential complements to effective peacebuilding’.4