Corruption, Justice and Legitimacy

Corruption as a System

By Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church

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The Corruption, Justice, and Legitimacy (CJL) program advances innovative approaches to corruption analysis in fragile and conflict-affected contexts. Focusing on the criminal justice sector, the program supports more holistic efforts to diminish corruption in core state activities related to human security. The project puts policy makers’ assumptions about corruption’s effects on state legitimacy to evidential tests, and generates nuanced analysis of the dynamics of the corruption-legitimacy relationship. This is prerequisite to designing effective anti-corruption responses.


Our preliminary findings:


• Anti-corruption programs in fragile and conflict-affected states often rely on a formulaic recipe based on an inaccurate diagnosis of the problem.


• Analysis starts with the recipe rather than the context. This obscures central drivers of corruption, such as social norms, political culture and feed-back loops.


• Corruption in fragile and conflict-affected states form complex, adaptive systems that are resilient, serve many functions and are based on factors that are interconnected. These factors must be taken into consideration if strategies are to be effective.