Corruption impacts on development outcomes. It undermines accountable and effective institutions, prevents access to basic public services and holds back economic growth. It is now widely recognised that international aspects of corruption can have a critical impact on domestic governance and development efforts.
This report introduces an analytical tool intended to help users understand how factors in the global economy and international relations affect governance and corruption at the country level. It provides a means for identifying those factors that matter most for domestic governance, as well as opportunities for international actors to work more effectively to improve governance in specific country contexts.
The global economy and other international influences have powerful effects on governance and corruption at the country level. Many of these "international drivers" can act to undermine accountable governance – for example, through the effects of substantial rents from commodity exports; the ease of depositing illegal earnings securely in financial centres; and the ability to acquire military force through commercial hiring arrangements. However, other drivers can have positive effects. Examples include competition between states to become more investment-friendly, and the exchange of ideas across international professional networks.
The concept of international drivers of corruption
Major changes in the global economy, in particular since 1970, have fundamentally affected the incentives facing political and economic elites. Recent research has focused on the impact of increasing global demand for natural resources, which has provided political elites in poor countries with historically unprecedented opportunities to extract high rents from the export of scarce commodities. Moore, Schmidt and Unsworth (2009) suggest that this has provided political elites with "unearned incomes" that have acted to undermine their interest in building effective, accountable public institutions and nurturing economic growth. Foreign aid also provides a source of "unearned income", and can be associated with substantial corruption, for example in the manipulation of public procurement.
Using the tool
The tool follows a four-step analysis, outlined in Table 2.1. It begins with an assessment of the country’s situation and its domestic political economy, comprising the key processes and interactions that explain governance and corruption outcomes. The second step screens a long list of potential international drivers using a set of diagnostic questions which identifies those drivers that are most significant in the country context. The heart of the analysis is undertaken in the third step, where the tool guides users in identifying the particular interactions between the "shortlisted" international drivers and the domestic political economy. The fourth and final step has a practical focus: making international action more effective through specific programmes and applications of international instruments.
Cameroon case study
This case study is intended to illustrate the application of the international drivers of corruption framework, and provides an initial scoping of the main drivers affecting Cameroon. Structured around the four steps of the framework and the guiding questions, the study identifies two drivers as being particularly important in explaining domestic corruption and governance problems: rents arising from the trade in natural resources (in particular oil and timber), and illicit financial flows.
Sierra Leone case study
According to the UN Human Development Report (2007), Sierra Leone remains one of the poorest places in the world. By the end of the 1980s, the country was nearing a state of collapse, following years of poor governance and economic mismanagement under Siaka Stevens’ APC government. The protracted conflict of the 1990s destroyed much of the country’s basic social and economic infrastructure, resulting in entrenched and widespread poverty. While the causes of the war were complex, there does appear to be some consensus that poor governance, rampant corruption and the creation of a socially excluded underclass were responsible for creating the preconditions for war. Diamonds played a crucial role in fuelling the conflict, as the various parties funded their war efforts through mining activities (Maconachie, 2008).
Uganda case study
This case study considers the domestic political economy of Uganda, and the influence of international drivers on these dynamics. For almost 25 years, Uganda has been characterised by relative economic stability and development, but also by questionable levels of democratic governance. Corruption is perceived to be an increasing challenge in Uganda, with a worsening regional position in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index and a number of recent high-profile procurement scandals.
Zambia case study
This case study aims to illustrate the application of the international drivers of corruption framework, by providing an initial analysis of the main international drivers affecting Zambia. It is structured around the four steps of the framework and the guiding questions. After briefly analysing the political economy context and highlighting a range of significant international drivers, it explores two drivers in more detail: foreign business bribery and the international role in the prosecution of former President Chiluba.
International drivers have a significant impact on domestic governance and corruption. This report has provided a framework to systematically analyse how these processes operate in different country settings. Its ultimate purpose is to provide the basis for more focused and prioritised international action by helping to distil the often dauntingly complex interactions between global, regional and domestic political economies.
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