Missions and Operations:
Security and defence missions and operations refer to the operational aspects of security and defence policies. Missions and operations include physical deployment of armed forces and accompanying civilian staff to the operations field under a specific mandate and with a set objective (mission). The duration of these missions and operations will be determined by their nature, mandate and goals, as well as, the available resources and the results they obtain.
Corruption is defined by Transparency International (TI) as the abuse of entrusted power for personal gain.
What corruption risks in missions and operations?
When it comes to missions and operations, corruption can affect several levels simultaneously. First of all, missions and operations typically occur in highly complex and unstable environments, often over a long period of time. These environments are, more often than not, already plagued by endemic corruption.
Second of all, certain mission personnel themselves can be prone to corruption, a vulnerability that may be further exacerbated by a corruption-conducive environment. Some missions are very large and complex, involving a mix of forces from several countries all with different backgrounds and experience. This creates a complicated organisational setting where corruption may easily go unnoticed.
Mission personnel have to be equipped, fed, protected and provided accommodation. This often involves handling large sums of money, outsourcing and the use of private contractors. All these areas represent potential opportunities for corruption.
Moreover, some missions are deployed at a very short notice with little to no prior organisation leading to hasty decisions, a lack of transparency and a lack of proper competitive procedures, all of which are serious liabilities in a procurement context.
Why is it important?
Understanding corruption risks in missions and operations is all the more vital as limiting corruption can be a key factor determining the mission’s success. As described by Transparency International (TI), corruption can significantly erode the legitimacy and efficacy of an international mission.
As the nature of security threats changes and understanding of operational success evolves what used to be considered as a purely military exercise has now grown into a vast array of activities across all fields of expertise. Defence and security personnel are now being deployed for stability operations, peacekeeping efforts, natural disaster relief, humanitarian and development projects, security assistance missions and other tasks in the framework of bilateral and multilateral cooperation. In this context, taking a holistic approach to any mission becomes ever more important and anti-corruption measures are an indispensable part of that approach. Corruption can undermine not only mission success but the future development of a given country as well. Corruption can fuel social unrest, civil wars, and thereby regional and international insecurity.
How to limit corruption risks in missions and operations?
The first step to implementing successful anti-corruption measures is making sure everyone involved in a mission understands the importance of these measures and the implications of letting corruption thrive. Ensuring everyone realises their own role in the overall process and the benefits of a corruption-free system is essential to keeping people actively involved in anti-corruption measures.
Anti-corruption measures should be introduced from the very beginning, in the policy and planning phases. Anti-corruption training is crucial at all levels, from policy-makers and managers, to field commanders and personnel, to locally hired staff and services. Anti-corruption trainings should take place prior and during the deployment.
When it comes to private sector contractors, there are a number of tools that can be employed to promote ethical behaviour and limit corruption, such as open and competitive bidding, codes of conduct, contractual obligations, monitoring and performance evaluation. The Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies, the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers, and the Legislative Guidance Tool for States to Regulate Private Military and Security Companies are good references for best practices in this area.
Oversight, Transparency, Accountability
Transparency, oversight and accountability are fundamental elements that allow detecting, limiting and preventing corruption. Oversight and monitoring mechanisms should be implemented throughout the entire process: before, during and after the deployment. In order to make oversight possible, transparency is needed. Transparency involves making public the information necessary for a meaningful public debate on laws and other decisions. Transparency and oversight, allow detecting unacceptable behaviour and holding those responsible to account. This process is made easier by the existence of a legal and judicial framework to support it, which is not always the case in fragile states. Nevertheless, as TI emphasises, measures must be made in order for all personnel to be seen as accountable to the law regardless of their rank.
Anti-corruption is a demanding and long-term engagement. A balance must be struck between overoptimistic expectations and defeatist attitudes. No matter how complex the operational environment is, a turn towards countering corruption must be made at some point. In this context, the leadership’s attitude towards the importance of anti-corruption for mission’s success is crucial to keeping the commitment alive and the issue on top of the agenda.
Who is involved?
When it comes to anti-corruption measures, it is highly important that they are considered in a holistic way. Anti-corruption must be a cause everyone understands and adheres to from policy makers, leaders and managers to junior personnel, externally contracted service-providers, local staff, civil society and native population.
Anti-Corruption Checklist for Missions and Operations
- International policies on anti-corruption
- Mission strategy including anti-corruption measures
- Detailed anti-corruption plans
- Internal culture of transparency and accountability, including for host nation personnel and private contractors
- Internal and external monitoring and evaluation mechanisms (before, during and after deployment)
- Independent oversight
- Internal and external reporting mechanisms
- Whistle-blower protection
- Codes of conduct, including for host nation personnel and private contractors
- Anti-corruption training, including for host nation personnel and prior to deployment
- Strong understanding of different forms of corruption
- Strong understanding of local context
- Supporting and engaged leadership
- Comprehensive approach including good governance and rule of law
- Long-term perspective
- Measures to develop local legislation for counter-corruption
- Measures to develop local judicial and prosecution mechanisms
- Measures to raise awareness within local population
- Using intelligence to detect corruption and provide due diligence
- Using anti-corruption experts
- Measures to evaluate the effectiveness of anti-corruption efforts
- Measures to share information and coordinate efforts
- Measures to develop local training capacity and mentor local anti-corruption experts
Source: Transparency International Defence and Security Programme (2014), Corruption Threats & International Missions: Practical Guidance for Leaders
Government of Switzerland (2010), International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers.
Government of Switzerland and the ICRC, The Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies (2008).
Transparency International, Defence and Security Programme (2015), Corruption Lessons from the International Mission in Afghanistan.
Transparency International, Defence and Security Programme (2014), Corruption Threats & International Missions: Practical Guidance for Leaders.
Transparency International, Defence and Security Programme (2013), Corruption & Peacekeeping. Strengthening peacekeeping and the United Nations.
 Transparency International Defence and Security Programme (2014), Corruption Threats & International Missions. Practical Guidance for Leaders.
 Government of Switzerland and the ICRC, The Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies (2008) ; Government of Switzerland (2010), International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers; DCAF (2016), Legislative Guidance Tool for States to Regulate Private Military and Security Companies.
 Transparency International Defence and Security Programme (2014), Corruption Threats & International Missions: Practical Guidance for Leaders.