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Breaking the vicious cycle: Entry points for anti-corruption in inclusive peace processes

Corruption and violent conflict are interlinked in deep and complex ways. This U4 Issue considers how corruption as an element of conflict systems could be addressed during peace processes and how peacebuilders can support political efforts to curb corruption and promote accountability during transitions from war to peace. Now is the time to bridge the contributions of peacebuilding and anti-corruption practitioners in the quest for a sustainable transformation process.

15 May 2022
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Breaking the vicious cycle: Entry points for anti-corruption in inclusive peace processes

Main points

  • Approaches towards conflict transformation should be informed by a nuanced understanding of the political economy of violent conflict and corruption. Corruption as an element of conflict systems should be addressed during peace processes to support political efforts to curb corruption and promote accountability during the transition toward peace.
  • Although it is rarely possible to eradicate corruption, ignoring it during peace processes is not a viable option. Rather, peacebuilders should identify ways to reduce corruption’s long-term impact on the inclusivity and sustainability of peace process. Such pragmatic approaches should prioritise the aspects of corruption that matter most for state legitimacy, trust between communities, and trust in institutions.
  • National and international actors should promote inclusivity and accountability during negotiations and bargaining over political settlements and should not wait for ‘post-conflict’ governance programmes.
  • A systemic approach to integrating corruption and violent conflict can highlight the multi-dimensional and multi-directional linkages and feedback loops that inform complex social phenomena such as patronage, point to the relevance of social norms and other factors defining the system, and caution against technical fixes.
  • Addressing corrupt behaviour in conflict contexts requires a high level of political support, resources, and technical expertise. It also requires introspection, learning, and space for confidential and constructive dialogue among anti-corruption and peacebuilding communities to chart this difficult terrain.
  • Efforts towards transparency and integrity as well as conflict transformation share important foundations, namely a transformative agenda rooted in social justice as well as a conceptual focus on local agency and empowerment.

Cite this publication

Hopp-Nishanka, U.; Rogers, J.; Humphreys, C.; (2022) Breaking the vicious cycle: Entry points for anti-corruption in inclusive peace processes. Bergen: U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, Chr. Michelsen Institute (U4 Issue 2022:4)

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About the authors

Ulrike Hopp-Nishanka

Dr Ulrike Hopp-Nishanka has been working on conflict transformation and peacebuilding for 20 years as practitioner, researcher, lecturer as well as Deputy Head of Division at Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), most recently focusing on inclusive peacebuilding, recovery and reconstruction in the MENA region as well as Afghanistan. From 2005 to 2012, Ulrike was Deputy Director of the Sri Lanka Project of the Berghof Foundation and supported the Mediation and Peace Infrastructure Programme. Ulrike helped shaping the concept of infrastructures for peace and holds a PhD from the University of Hamburg, investigating the role of the peace secretariats in Sri Lanka’s peace process and their contribution to conflict transformation. During the time of writing, Ulrike was on leave from BMZ and consulted for a variety of agencies with a focus on the political economy of reconstruction and peacebuilding as well as inclusive peace processes.

Joshua Rogers

Dr Joshua Rogers is a Senior Project Manager and Advisor for the Berghof Foundation’s Yemen-related political dialogue work and leads Berghof’s efforts to integrate thinking about corruption into peace processes and political dialogue efforts. He previously worked for Saferworld, the EU Delegation in Sanaa, and the International Network on Conflict and Fragility. He holds a BA from the University of Oxford, an MA from the Free University in Berlin and a PhD in Development Studies from SOAS, University of London.

Calum Humphreys

Calum Humphreys is a Junior Project Manager in the Yemen Unit at the Berghof Foundation. He previously worked as a Project Officer at Candid Foundation supporting creative dialogue and cross-cultural exchange projects in Libya and in other Middle Eastern contexts. He holds an MPhil in Modern Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Oxford, with a focus on Egyptian socio-political history and social movements, and a BA (Hons) in Spanish & Arabic from the University of Exeter.


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