At the World Economic Forum in Davos Thursday, Secretary of State John Kerry highlighted the links between corruption and unrest in countries including Libya, Yemen, Burundi, and Iraq.
“Only better governance can rout the scourge of corruption, which costs the global economy $2.6 trillion, blights job prospects, and opens up a vacuum that allows the predators to move in,” he said.
Kerry called on business leaders to demand accountability from their counterparts in government.
“Extremism often finds nourishment where leadership is fragile,” he said.
Secretary Kerry is right to link corruption and conflict. American policy makers have been talking about the link for a while.
When the U.S. Institute of Peace — established and funded by Congress — published a study guide five years ago on governance, corruption, and conflict, it said:
[C]orruption has links to conflict. Although corruption is not likely to be the only factor responsible for the destabilization of a country, it can have a major impact on undermining the government — and public confidence in governing institutions — which, in turn, can become a driver of conflict. The links between corruption, governance, and conflict are complex and interrelated, and they are a reality in many countries.
Two years ago, we found that fifteen countries then at war against an external enemy or through internal insurrection had an average ranking on the Corruption Perceptions Index of 150 (out of 175 countries).
The countries Kerry mentioned in Davos that are unstable and under pressure from insurgents — Libya, Yemen, Burundi, and Iraq — have an average rank on the Corruption Perceptions Index of 164.
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.