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TNRC Publication

Understanding effects of corruption on law enforcement and environmental crime

19 December 2019
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Main points

  • Corruption undermines the ability of law enforcement and judicial systems to enforce laws related to environmental protection and resource use.
  • Environmental crimes are often a low priority for law enforcement actors facing a range of pressures and may be seen as victimless crimes.
  • Due to corruption, law enforcement-based approaches to conservation and natural resource management (NRM) can have unpredictable or unintended consequences such as biased enforcement of laws, emphasis on low-level rather than high-level offenses, and ineffective crime suppression efforts.
  • Practitioners should carefully assess the risks and potential impact of corruption on expected outcomes.
  • Many natural resource corruption cases straddle national borders, so practitioners should be aware of options based on extra-territorial legislation.

Cite this publication

Williams, A.; (2019) Understanding effects of corruption on law enforcement and environmental crime. Bergen: U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, Chr. Michelsen Institute (TNRC Publication December 2019)

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About the author

Aled Williams is a political scientist and senior researcher at Chr. Michelsen Institute and a principal adviser at the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre. He is responsible for U4's thematic work on corruption in natural resources and energy, and holds a PhD from SOAS, University of London, on political ecology of REDD+ in Indonesia.


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This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


Photo: WWF / James Morgan COPYRIGHTED