Governance, Rule of Law and Human Rights

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Anti-Corruption Training Course

As part of its Rule of Law services Bretton Woods Law offers an anti-corruption training course for staff working in peace operations in a post-conflict environment. Peace operations in post-conflict countries have rarely addressed corruption as a priority focusing instead on more pressing issues such as establishing peace and security. We believe one of the more serious risks in post-conflict which should be addressed is corruption, due to its negative effects on power distribution and longer-term stabilization and ultimately on a mission’s impact and its credibility in the host country.

The  increased  knowledge of  anti-corruption  approaches and  measures will better  protect against corrupt activities and enable peacekeepers to contribute meaningfully to the fight against corruption and to guide  other  relevant  stakeholders in this regard.

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Q: Why did you design an anti-corruption course for staff serving in peace operations?

A: For more than a decade I served as a civil servant with the UN in highly corrupt post-conflict environments investigating fraud and corruption, designing corruption prevention tools, reviewing mission procurement actions, preparing anti-corruption related legislation and attempting to build strong and corruption-free institutions. Notwithstanding that more or less all of these activities were aimed at fighting corruption, both within the UN and in the host country my UN colleagues and I had little knowledge of and were not trained on corruption risks and the range of possible anti-corruption measures available.A few years later when I joined the anti-corruption NGO Transparency International (“TI”), I formed the view that any peacekeeper, including mission support staff, should have at least some understanding of corruption and anti-corruption. If staff are involved in host country support (e.g., rule of law reform) they should definitely know about corruption in a post-conflict environment, corruption risk areas and counter-corruption measures.When I started designing the training course, TI U.K.’s Defence and Security Programme was about to launch a publication on “Corruption and Peacekeeping” advocating training for peacekeeping staff to recognize and limit corruption risks and my view was confirmed that there is a gap which needs to be filled.

Q: Is the course also useful for staff who have never worked in a post-conflict environment which is prone to corruption?

A: Yes it is. In fact parts of the course should be included in any pre-deployment training for staff so that they have knowledge and understanding about corruption, corruption risks and the tools used to mitigate such risks in a post-conflict context. Based on my conclusions drawn from a pilot introductory anti-corruption training course delivered in 2013 (for a mixed training audience: staff with hardly any knowledge of anti-corruption and advanced rule of law practitioners), I revised the course substantially and designed it in such a way that there are two levels. The level 1 introductory course is for staff who have little or no knowledge or understanding of corruption and counter corruption in a post-conflict context. This course is useful for staff who work in mission support functions (e.g., in mission procurement or recruitment) as well as staff who work on host government assistance.The level 2 intermediary course is designed for peacekeepers who have already some experience and understanding of corruption in a post-conflict environment and work on host government support in particular in the area of rule of law.

Q: Why is there a focus on the United Nations Convention against Corruption (“UNCAC”) in the level 2 intermediary course?

A: UNCAC is relevant for a variety of fields such as rule of law and security sector reform, human rights and electoral reform. These are all areas a peace mission traditionally works in. Given that almost any country in the world has ratified UNCAC, the host country will have done so too and be under a treaty obligation to implement it. The convention prescribes a wide range of measures with an aim to enhance integrity, transparency and accountability in the public service, the judiciary, electoral bodies, civil society and media (e.g., codes of conducts, whistleblower protection laws, declaration of assets, access to information, anti-money laundering legislation). Peacekeepers can use UNCAC as an entry point, to help achieve on host country support, with their local counterparts tackling broader governance issues, mainstreaming anti-corruption approaches into sectors and programmes helping to achieve UNCAC’s objectives. Some knowledge and understanding of UNCAC is actually useful for anyone working in a mission for the simple reason that a mission staff member is an “official of a public international organization” under the Convention. Further, if an international mission is guided by the principles of UNCAC, e.g., integrity, transparency and accountability, it will have a higher credibility for the citizens of the host country.

Q: Why do you think anti-corruption training is so useful for mission staff?

A: I am convinced that knowledge and understanding of anti-corruption by mission staff is key for the success of a mission. Without tackling corruption issues the mission cannot achieve its mandate. Mission staff can be facilitators or multipliers, transferring their knowledge and skills on anti-corruption to their local counterparts. Further, mission staff and leadership should lead by example. If the mission puts zero tolerance for corruption on their banners, the host country may be more inclined to follow. Transparency International UK’s Defence and Security Programme recently published a handbook on “Corruption threats & International Missions” stating “with the right understanding and guidance, mission leaders and their staffs can limit the threat of corruption poses, and have a greater chance of achieving stability and security for citizens.” I could not agree more with this statement.