Increasing academic and policy attention has been paid to the relationship between corruption and conflict, particularly since the early 2000s. The reasons behind this interest are clear when one considers that, as Le Billon (2008) has noted, many of those states that are perceived to be the most corrupt are also those affected by violent conflict. Much of the research conducted on this topic confirms that corruption plays a role in fuelling conflict, and combating corruption is now firmly established as a key component of international efforts to promote good governance in post-conflict states (Brinkerhoff, 2005; Jenkins and Plowden, 2006: 8). Behind these headline messages, however, the growing literature also reveals a more complicated picture. While corruption may very often be a driver of conflict, there is evidence to suggest that, in certain circumstances, it may also have conflict-mitigating properties. Moreover, post-conflict reconstruction efforts can inadvertently present new opportunities for corrupt practices, meaning that international attempts to fight corruption in the aftermath of violent conflict flounder. This chapter reviews the literature on the role of corruption in conflict and on efforts to combat it as part of post-conflict reconstruction processes. It then considers three case studies. Two of these – Iraq and Afghanistan – have presented enormous challenges to international anti-corruption attempts, whereas the third – Liberia – has been held up by some as marking the advent of a new and successful approach to fighting corruption. The chapter concludes by drawing out some lessons from these case studies for future reconstruction efforts.
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