Constituent Mitigations

3.1 Including corruption in mission threat assessment and mission analysis

Most mission planners already include corruption in their analysis, usually as an element of the political or economic picture of the theatre of operations. What is usually missing, however, is the next step: to identify the implications that corruption can have on mission goals and on particular operations. For example, identification of high-level corruption in the host nation defence forces is only the beginning; what then needs to be assessed are the consequences of specific corrupt practices – existence of ghost soldiers or irregularities in procurement, for example – on the reliability of that force as a partner in combined operations and on its ability to support the goals of the intervening force. Where Security Force Assistance (SFA) or Security Sector Reform (SSR) are not part of the mission, analysis of corruption in the theatre of operations will identify financial and reputational risks that international forces would be exposed to through interactions with local actors, draw attention to ways in which mission activities could aggravate or limit corrupt practices, and draw attention to corruption risks within the force itself.

A corruption threat assessment should answer, at a minimum, the following questions:

  • What are the types of corruption in the theatre of operations?
  • What is the intensity and reach of corrupt practices?
  • What effects do corrupt practices have on the host nation’s security, governance, and economic development?
  • What are the host nation’s laws on bribery, corruption, and related offences? What is outlawed and what is permitted?
  • Are the laws implemented and are breaches sanctioned?
  • Which key stakeholders are implicated in corrupt networks? Does it affect the reliability and effectiveness of host nation government as a partner?
  • Are host nation defence and security forces affected by corruption?
  • Which corrupt practices are likely to have the biggest impact on mission operations, and how (physical/financial/information/reputational risks)?
  • Are there opportunities for reform?
  • What levers, national and international, would be most effective in supporting compliance/reform? Which ones can the mission lead on delivering and which ones should it support?
  • What are the civilian initiatives, both national and international, that the mission could support?
  • What are the relevant international laws, conventions and standards that could have an impact on mission activities, or that could be used to limit the impact of corruption?

Some theatres – especially those where corruption has been identified as a significant risk – will then require a more in-depth analysis, incorporating the mapping of networks and financial flows. These activities will likely demand significant time from intelligence staff, and analysis of financial flows could require additional expertise from other organisations. But an accurate network map and a database of financial flows will enable the mission not only to understand the connections and financial mechanisms underpinning corrupt networks, but also to design responses that can cut off enabling channels and change incentives. This assessment should include the following questions:

  • What is the composition and reach of corrupt networks?
  • Is corruption vertically integrated and if yes, how?
  • How do proceeds of corruption leave the country? Are there international enablers?
  • Does corruption affect the defence and security forces? If so, what are the key manifestations?

Finally, the threat assessment should incorporate potential changes in the reach and severity of corrupt practices due to conflict and the presence of the mission. These changes could be positive as improved security and development levels curtail the need and opportunities for corruption. Equally, they could be negative as conflict hollows out national institutions and injection of extra resources through international interventions is used by corrupt networks. The latter is especially important for the planning of operations in low-risk countries (such as NATO Article V exercises), where it would be easy to overlook corruption as a potential emerging issue.

  • Is prolonged conflict likely to create incentives for corruption? What are the key vulnerabilities?
  • Could mission activities create additional opportunities for corrupt networks, for example through injection of resources, sustainment contracts, or political support to individuals or groups?
  • Could the mission play a part in leading or supporting anti-corruption initiatives?
  • Is it likely that mission personnel will engage in corrupt activity? How is this likely to influence corrupt practices within the host nation?

The threat assessment can start with widely available, open-source information, especially from the media, NGOs and development agencies such as Transparency International and the World Bank. The latter offer quantitative and qualitative assessments of corruption. This initial assessment could be carried out by mission planning staffs and intelligence analysts.

This, however, is usually only the beginning, as these sources offer a general picture with limited granularity, and are perhaps best suited to a strategic-level analysis. They also have their shortcomings – neither a perception-based index nor that based on experience or risk will offer a complete picture. A more accurate operational and tactical analysis would require careful monitoring of indicators and warnings in the theatre of operations, and analysis warnings to diagnose the corrupt practices behind them, if present.

The more complex aspects of the threat picture – from vertical integration of corruption to illicit financial flows out of the country – might also need specialist involvement from anti-corruption experts, law enforcement agents, auditors, and anti-money laundering specialists. These are skills present mostly in civilian organisations.

Assessing corruption: where to start?

Open Source Reporting:

Bellingcat: investigative website which uses open source material and social media to map corrupt networks. Source:

Global Witness: NGO which aims to protect human rights and the environment by confronting corruption. Source:

Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP): non-profit media organisation which provides a reporting platform for a network investigative centres and journalists. Source:

The Sentry: investigative group which tracks financial flows in order to uncover those funding and profiting from corruption and human rights abuses in Africa. Part of the Enough Project. Source:

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC): UN agency tasked with fighting the spread of illicit drugs, corruption and international crime. Source:

World Bank Integrity Vice-Presidency (INT): independent unit within the Bank that investigates allegations of fraud and corruption in WB financed projects and provides preventive anti-corruption guidance. Source:




Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI): this Transparency International index ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, using a scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). Source:

Global Corruption Barometer (GCB): worldwide survey conducted by Transparency International, asking citizens about their direct personal experiences of corruption and their perceptions of public entities in their countries. Source:

World Bank Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI): project which reports governance indicators for over 200 countries and territories from 1996-2017, for six dimensions of governance. Source:

Freedom House’s Nations in Transit: research project on democracy reforms in 29 former communist countries. Source:

Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG): tool that measures and monitors governance performance in African countries. Source:

Government Defence Anti-Corruption Index (GI): index which assesses the existence and effectiveness of controls to manage the risk of corruption in defence and security institutions. Source:

Defence Companies Anti-Corruption Index (DCI): index which tracks and analyses what major defence companies publicly commit to in terms of their openness, policies and procedures. Source:



Qualitative Analyses:

EU Annual Anti-Corruption Report. Source:

National Integrity Systems (NIS): assessments of a country’s anti-corruption efficacy by sector, allowing a nuanced analysis of national efforts to limit corruption. Source:

OECD States of Fragility Reports: report detailing he challenge posed by fragility to sustainable development and peace. Source:

OECD Working Group on Bribery in International Business Transactions. Source:

Council of Europe’s Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO) reports. Source:

Key Personnel

  • J2
  • J5
  • J9