Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)

Insightful Quotes
"We need to understand corruption from multiple viewpoints and put local perspectives and social norms at the core of our approach: corruption in fragile contexts can be a functional survival strategy. At times, corruption even appears as the dominant governance model."
Insightful Quotes
"External actors, including peacebuilders, at times contribute to an enabling environment for corruption – local people then regard aid agencies with contempt and cynicism because of their own lack of accountability and transparency."
Virtual Session 22

A Double Challenge for Peacebuilders: Exploring the Vicious Circle of Corruption and Conflict

In many contexts, we see a vicious circle of fragility, violent conflict and corruption: state institutions are weak and not trusted by the population, the allocation of power is discretionary. Patronage, clientelism and violence prevail as elites compete for power, social and economic networks are shattered. Corruption creates grievances and functions as a driver of conflict and fragility. As symptom of poor governance and impunity, it is often connected to the root causes of violent conflict.

Main Questions
  • What are the systemic linkages between corruption and violent conflict?

  • How is peacebuilding affected by corruption?

  • How can peacebuilding contribute to fighting corruption?

Key Theses, Thoughts and Ideas

Escaping the vicious circle is only possible if the systemic linkages of corruption and violent conflict are addressed simultaneously and peacebuilding and anti-corruption join forces. Breaking the silos of peacebuilding, governance and rule of law, we need to recognize how the conflict system and corruption fuel each other. We need to widen our analytical focus and integrate more granular, local understanding of the political economy of the peacebuilding context, including social norms. Do no harm needs to go both ways, so that neither peacebuilding aggravates corruption nor anti-corruption efforts undermine peacebuilding unintentionally.

With a deep, localised understanding the conflict-corruption system we can act jointly to pave the way for a sustainable and inclusive transformation of social contracts. In doing so, peacebuilding actors also need to reconsider their own accountability and transparency standards to encourage more downward accountability towards people on the ground.


Arne Strand
U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, Norway
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Dr. Joshua Rogers
Berghof Foundation, Germany
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Henriette Kötter
Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Germany
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Samiullah Hamidee
Organization for Social and Economic Development (OSED), Afghanistan
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Dr. Ulrike Hopp-Nishanka
Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Germany
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Current Topics

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The FriEnt Peacebuilding Forum is a series of events on current and overarching challenges and trends in peacebuilding. With the Peacebuilding Forum, we want to provide future-oriented impulses for the development of peacebuilding and strengthen the visibility and importance of the policy field in its entirety.


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