The Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan and the Central African Republic serve as examples of how corruption is at the root of conflict, making war “good business” for profiteers who perpetuate atrocities.
That’s according to John Prendergast, who with actor George Clooney co-founded the investigative work at The Sentry and its team of experts who follow the flow of corrupt cash. Prendergast spoke to the United Nations Security Council on Monday, along with UN Secretary General António Guterres, during a first-ever formal session on corruption and conflict.
“The bottom line is that war will remain more beneficial than peace for those at the center of conflict and corruption,” Prendergast said. With a focus on the continent, he highlighted the role of corruption in fueling and extending conflict, including the stealing of state assets.
Guterres, citing World Economic Forum data, said corruption costs the world about 5 percent of global GDP each year, or some USD$2.6 trillion. The World Bank says more than $1 trillion is paid in bribes each year, as corruption robs citizens of resources for schools, hospitals and other needed investments.
The damage to the environment, the distrust of government and a breakdown of political life are all consequences – as is the conflict, linked to extremism and terrorism, that often follows the cash.
“The poor and vulnerable suffer disproportionately,” he stressed. “And impunity compounds the problem.”
Guterres appealed to the international community to work against money laundering, tax evasion and illicit financial flows. “I call on leaders everywhere to listen, to nurture a culture of integrity and to empower citizens to do their part at the grass roots,” he said.