Originally working as practitioner-scholars in conflict settings, we saw traditional anti-corruption efforts being replicated, regardless of context or evidence of effectiveness. We believe these traditional strategies for combating corruption, largely derived from Western contexts, do not align with the complex nature of the problems in contexts of endemic corruption.
This mismatch is often partially derived from corruption analysis that focused on risks or assessing the degree of corruption, instead of exploring what drives and enables corrupt patterns of behavior. Only with the latter understanding can nuanced, context-sensitive theories of change be designed.
Our early work in Uganda, Central African Republic, and Democratic Republic of Congo developed and tested an alternative analytic method. Our approach situated corruption in a dynamic, adaptive system that reflects the full range of influential factors, from political dynamics to social norms. Our work has expanded from developing this Corruption as a System methodology to exploring how Social Norms affect that system, to studying the intersection of Corruption and Peacebuilding. We engage with practitioners, policymakers and academics across sectors and regions, all with the goal of unlocking the barriers to effective and durable development caused by corrupt patterns of behavior.
CJL has worked with a diverse set of organisations to advance anti-corruption practice and make knowledge more accessible for practitioners.
The CJL team has a diverse set of skills and experience which allow us to break away from traditional strategies of analyzing corruption and work towards developing innovative ways of improving the effectiveness of anti-corruption programming.
2012 The Corruption, Justice and Legitimacy Program originated from a belief that the first step to improving the effectiveness of anti-corruption programming was by changing the way corruption was analyzed. We started translating this belief into action with multi-year support from USG/INL. The resulting corruption analysis process uses the principles of complex adaptive systems thinking which allows us to approach endemic corruption as a system rather than a set of ad-hoc transactions. It locates power and politics as a central dynamic and integrates social norms as drivers of behavior.
2015 During our years housed at CDA, we tested and refined this process by looking at the role of corruption in the police and courts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic and in Northern Uganda. Our first anti-corruption program, Kuleta Haki, was developed from the DRC analysis and co-designed with RCN. Using the islands of integrity identified through our corruption analysis, this innovative anti-corruption program generated material results during its two years.
2016 We launched the Corruption in Fragile States blog as a platform to share learning in real time. With well over 100 posts from leading experts and practitioners, it has been a source of community and learning ever since.
2017 It became clear that social norms needed a significantly deeper dive to be feasibly integrated into anti-corruption analysis and programming. Working with implementing partners we initiated a project to test the concepts found in our “Understanding Social Norms: A Reference Guide for Policy and Practice”. CJL moved to The Human Security Institute at The Fletcher School, Tufts University in 2018.
2020 We stood up a new stream of work looking at corruption and conflict, allowing us to build on our peacebuilding backgrounds. A scan of this nexus area resulted in "Adapting Anti-Corruption Strategies in Fragile and Conflict-Affected Settings: A Literature Review" showing that little serious work had been done to advance this challenge over the past decade.
2022 CJL has three running programs; focusing on systems, social norms and conflict and corruption along with a new home – Besa Global.