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Bridging Silos between Anti-Corruption and Peacebuilding


The Corruption and Peacebuilding Project (CPB) emerges from the integration of our combined 50 years of experience as peacebuilding scholar-practitioners with our more recent work on corruption. In our experience conducting conflict analyses and evaluations over the past decade, we have seen corruption appear time and again as a key conflict issue. Yet very few peacebuilding agencies stand up programs to address corruption in the conflict context.  Even fewer anti-corruption programs benefit from the peacebuilding field’s wealth of experience in developing politically savvy, conflict sensitive approaches.  Often, anti-corruption work in conflict contexts is carried out with little to no regard for the conflict dynamics, so little is done to mitigate any negative effects of the programming on conflict and fragility. This divide has been puzzling, as siloed thinking and practice diminishes the relevance and effectiveness of programming.


Building from the existing work on the conflict-corruption nexus, The Corruption and Peacebuilding Project will develop practical ways to support practitioners in tackling corruption in fragile and conflict affected states. It aims: to facilitate greater synergies between the anti-corruption and peacebuilding fields; to synthesize existing frameworks and approaches for effective, conflict-sensitive anti-corruption strategies; and indicate entry points for development practitioners, anti-corruption experts, and peacebuilders in settings where corruption is a underlying driver of fragility and conflict.

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Anti-corruption efforts are often undertaken in fragile and conflict-affected states (FCAS) - contexts experiencing intergroup violence, even war and where conflict dynamics are closely intertwined with abuses of power. In these contexts, programs to fight or reduce corruption inevitably interact with the dynamics of the conflict, whether they intend to or not. Like any international aid, anti-corruption programming cannot afford to be “conflict blind”, lest efforts to help cause unintended harm in fueling existing intergroup conflicts. The last twenty years of humanitarian and development aid shows us that such unintended harms can be anticipated, and even avoided or mitigated through conflict sensitive approaches. Can we use existing approaches as is developed for these other aid sectors or do we need approaches that respond to the unique dynamics of anti-corruption programming?


To answer this, CJL has begun a project to clarify the state of practice and the challenges, and to understand what approaches to conflict sensitivity could better support anti-corruption programming in conflict settings. The team lead on this, Dr. Lara Olson, brings more practitioner-focused learning experience to CJL and has worked extensively on peacebuilding effectiveness and evaluation, conflict sensitive aid, and complex systems in peace and conflict. She has written a blog summarizing our early findings from this inquiry - Does Anti-Corruption Do No Harm?

Ultimately, we hope to develop practical ways to help agencies and activists understand and avoid or mitigate such unintended negative impacts from anti-corruption efforts. As we progress further in this initiative, we will continue to ‘think out loud’ with you - publishing new content on The Corruption in Fragile States Blog, hosting virtual opportunities for practitioners to discuss their experiences and test ideas, and publishing our final results.


Join us in this inquiry and keep connected to be included in these opportunities.  

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We are pleased to be working with the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre to develop a short online course for policy makers on ‘Corruption, Conflict, and Fragility: Matching the Approach to the Complex Context’. 


The first offering of this two-week course will be in April 2023, with another coming early 2024. This course is designed to help participants understand why fragility, conflict and corruption need to be approached cohesively (not as mono-thematic sectoral approaches) and will explain how corruption manifests in FCAS and the implications this has on conflict and programming. Participants will also gain a “FCAS lens” to the analysis and design of strategies and programming that tackle corruption.

Some of the topics in this course will include:

  • Why Anti-Corruption Needs to be Adapted in Endemically Corrupt Environments

  • Understanding Endemic Corruption as a Complex and Adaptive System

  • Expanding the Repertoire of Anti-Corruption Approaches for FCAS

The course builds from a consultative process we ran with policy makers who have experience in fragile and conflict affected states, as well as a deep dive into the literature; Adapting Anti-Corruption Strategies in Fragile and Conflict-Affected Settings: A Literature Review.

Subscribe or follow our LinkedIn to receive updates on this collaboration along with our other projects that transcend the peacebuilding anti-corruption silo.

Registration for the Corruption in Fragile States course through U4 is now live!  Find the details here.

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The Berghof Foundation has long been a prominent leader in the conflict transformation and peacebuilding communities. CJL and Berghof have a working group on anti-corruption and peacebuilding. CJL is currently writing an article for their state-of-the-art handbook on the intersections between conflict, corruption, peacebuilding, and anti-corruption.

Despite significantly overlapping goals, the peacebuilding and anti-corruption communities are largely silo-ed; both would benefit from the cross-pollination of ideas and tactics because corruption and conflict are often inextricably intertwined.


To learn more read our blogpost Two roads that will never meet? An agenda for dialogue on the intersection of peacebuilding and anti-corruption.


25 March 2024

How Anti-Corruption Efforts Can Inadvertently Fuel Conflict

By Lara Olson with Diana Chigas

27 November 2023

8 Ways Anti- Corruption Programs Can Inadvertently Fuel Conflict

By Lara Olson with Diana Chigas

1 December 2021

Adapting Anti-Corruption Strategies in Fragile and Conflict-Affected Settings: A Literature Review

By Rosemary Ventura

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