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Corruption and Conflict

Expected Council Action

In September, the US is planning to hold a briefing under the agenda item “Maintenance of International Peace and Security” on corruption and conflict. Secretary-General António Guterres will brief. Additionally, John Prendergast, Founding Director of the Enough Project and co-founder of The Sentry will brief. A formal outcome is not anticipated.

Background

Within the UN system, different bodies have addressed the issue of corruption. For instance, the preamble of the UN Convention against Corruption names corruption as a threat to the stability of societies and as a transnational problem in need of international cooperation. The Executive Director of the UN Office of Drugs and Crime, Yury Fedotov, called the fight against corruption “a vital component of our collective efforts to strengthen peace and security […]” during a high-level debate at the UN in New York in May to mark the 15th anniversary of the adoption of the convention. The Secretary-General has addressed the issue of corruption in his reports to the Council on country situations before it. More broadly, the Council has addressed misappropriation of resources within sanctions regimes. For instance, in the cases of Somalia, the Council has banned trade in charcoal, and in Libya, trade in crude oil, among others.

The Enough Project researches conflicts in African countries and advocates for peace and an end to mass atrocities. Connected to the Enough Project is The Sentry, an organisation researching financial networks profiting from and supporting armed conflict and atrocities with the ultimate aim of altering those systems, with a focus on countries in Africa.

Key Issues and Options

This is the first time that a Council meeting considers corruption as a cross-cutting issue. While no formal Council product is envisaged, the meeting is expected to focus on the link between corruption and instability, and ultimately conflict, and how best to confront that cycle. Members may suggest how to incorporate these issues into topics on the Council’s agenda. On the one hand, tackling corruption may factor into the broader idea of prevention of conflict; on the other hand it may also be of relevance to combatting the financing of terrorism and conflicts over resources in country-specific situations before the Council. Concrete settings for implementation of these ideas could be sanctions regimes and resolutions. Another point could be to strengthen the involvement of civil society and its expertise, also with a view to UN involvement in peacebuilding, where existing state structures may have suffered from the corrosive effects of corruption.

Council Dynamics

On most occasions when the Council discusses thematic issues not formally on its agenda, some member states, in particular China and Russia but also several elected members, express the view that the Council’s taking on the topic encroaches on the authority of other UN organs. Considering that the focus of this meeting is unprecedented, similar points can be anticipated

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