By Shireen Mukadam, researcher
February 9, 2012
On January 16th South Sudan’s Parliament met to discuss the Auditor General’s announcement that $1.3 billion was unaccounted for during the 2005-2006 budget period of the then Autonomous Government of Southern Sudan under the transitional government. This comes in the midst of a flurry of anti-corruption initiatives sweeping the country in the past few months. In November last year, President Salva Kiir appointed senior judge Justice John Gatwhich Lul as chair of the national Anti-Corruption Commission. Established in 2006 and viewed by many as toothless, this body gained prosecutory powers through the 2011 Transitional Constitution. These events raise important questions about the nexus between corruption and peacebuilding. What have we learnt from African post- conflict states about how corruption affects peacebuilding efforts?
The nexus between corruption and peacebuilding is characterised by the tension between the short and long-term impacts of corruption. Some functionalists argue that certain forms of ‘illegal’ channelling of state funds may have positive consequences in the aftermath of conflict. In the short term some would argue that this could help bring about stability, by sustaining networks of patronage and ‘buying’ spoilers to participate in the peace process. Both the need and opportunity for corrupt practices can increase following conflict, arguably as the case of Burundi shows. Certain financial ‘rewards’ also have the potential to play an incentivising role in peace negotiations. However, the difficulty in embracing this rationale arises when one considers the longer-term implications of these kinds of practices. Is stability and peace sought after, at any cost?…While this article has only scratched the surface of the corruption-peacebuilding nexus, it sheds light on the need to pay more attention to how the synergy between the anti-corruption and peacebuilding discourses can contribute towards preventing corruption, thereby enabling sustainable peace in post- conflict countries. A good start would be to consider a corruption-sensitive approach to peacebuilding…Read more.