Post-war reconstruction aid risks fuelling more conflict

from Integrity Action
Published on 16 Jan 2007
January 16, 2007, London - Billions of dollars of reconstruction aid are spent without accountability to its intended beneficiaries, according to major country studies on integrity in post-war reconstruction, launched today by Tiri, a new non-governmental group dedicated to raising levels of integrity around the world, and local non-governmental organizations in eight post-war countries.

Lack of integrity in reconstruction threatens to push war-torn countries back into open conflict. Former British International Development Minister and Tiri board member Clare Short, is blunt in her assessment:  "We have got to recognise," said Short, "that the way we do business may be contributing to new conflict."

The surveys set out to examine the impact of post-conflict reconstruction in eight states and regions which between them have received $65bn in aid: Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Palestine, Lebanon, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and East Timor.

The reports offer a damning indictment of the sequencing of reforms in post-war countries. Transparency and accountability of aid to its beneficiaries comes last in donor priorities. Reconstruction settings demand immediate action, but not at the expense of integrity.

Concerns of accountability to beneficiaries emerge later, but by then it is often too late. The surveys offer examples of destabilization in Afghanistan, missed opportunities in Palestine and the legacies of lack of integrity and participation in the reconstruction of Lebanon, amongst other countries, as well as case studies of successful projects and approaches.

Yama Torabi, co-author of the Afghan survey and researcher with Kabul-based Integrity Watch Afghanistan, underscores the destabilising effect of corruption:

"Nearly every time there has been sudden regime change in Afghanistan it has been linked to the issue of corruption. What is so dangerous for Afghanistan right now is that the percentage of the public who perceive the western-backed government of Hamid Karzai to be corrupt is now some 60 per cent, the highest for an Afghan regime."

Corruption is a short-term problem in reconstruction settings, at the core of citizens' experience of a state that delivers services, as well as on its promises. If the short and crucial window of opportunity provided by the ending of open conflict is not acted upon, an 'open moment' in the history of a fledgling state will be lost.

"What we are saying," said Jeremy Carver, one of Tiri's founders, "is that too often the actions of the international community in postwar societies directly lead to new conflict. It is driven by the insistence of countries and international organisations that reconstruction follows their agendas and tight timetables."

Around half of post-war countries return to violent conflict within ten years.  If peace is seen to bring corruption and inequality (and not security and fairness), the threat of a return to war is particularly high. This is the gravest risk post-war countries face. Out of the eight countries that have been involved in this investigation, four have experienced major violence since the reconstruction process began (Afghanistan, East Timor, Palestine, Lebanon), three of which risk the outbreak of major violence (Afghanistan, Palestine, Lebanon).

"Thousands of white Toyota Land Cruisers crisscross war-torn societies around the world," said Martin Tisne, Tiri associate programme director. "The question is, what have we got to show for it?  There is a rapid round of donor conferences and targets and timetables, and it is only when you look round, sometimes years later, that you realise that what you have done has contributed to renewed tension and violence in post-war situations."

The surveys show that these significant efforts have failed to include integrity as a key principle in the reconstruction assistance given to these countries. Where integrity has successfully been instituted, it boosts trust, and fosters sustainable institutions that are technically competent and locally adapted.

The publication of these surveys marks the launch of the 'Network for Integrity in Reconstruction', a network of NGOs from post-war countries, committed to monitoring and researching integrity in their countries. A joint policy paper with recommendations for donors, governments and civil society will be launched in March 2007, after a process of consultation with key actors worldwide.

"Both tax payers in the North and the beneficiaries of aid in warn-torn societies are now demanding to know what happens to their money.  Full transparency in aid is the first step to accountability and to improving the effectiveness of reconstruction efforts," said Fredrik Galtung, Tiri's chief executive and the initiator of this work on post-war reconstruction.

Notes to editors

About the project

Tiri's Network for Integrity in Reconstruction project commenced in May 2005.  It had three aims.

- To produce policy relevant research and case studies on a previously under-researched and critical issue - corruption and integrity in post-war reconstruction.

- To facilitate a network of informed civil society leaders from post-war countries ready to take a lead in advocating and advancing reforms.

- To build a constituency of committed donors who in turn share their approach, policy problems and solutions and help turn practical policy recommendations into action.

Eight local policy centres and more than thirty researchers in total have undertaken research using shared terms of reference.  The countries covered were Afghanistan, Bosnia Herzegovina, East Timor, Kosovo, Lebanon, Mozambique, Palestine and Sierra Leone.  The event will showcase the research outputs which are;

- A survey mapping the opportunities for corruption presented by the reconstruction process.

- Case studies of integrity reforms and corruption cases from post-war countries.

- A national integrity system survey mapping the countries' integrity system.

- Opinion surveys and focus groups detailing local experiences.

- Recommendations for future action.

About Tiri

Tiri is a UK registered not-for-profit organisation and international NGO whose mission is to raise integrity standards in both public and private institutions and thereby assist processes of sustainable development and the reduction of poverty.  The organisation is headquartered in Central London.  We also have a Middle East and North Africa Office in East Jerusalem.

Tiri was formed in October 2003 and from the outset, developed a work programme in close collaboration with key institutions and personalities throughout the anti-corruption movement that was carefully tailored to meet the needs they felt and expressed.  We were established to be a catalyst, reacting swiftly to changing needs.  We also aim to build on and reinforce experiences in the field.

Tiri is a Maori word that can mean the protection of society by the removal of secrecy and taboos.  It can also mean sowing seeds for a new generation.  

We work with a growing global network of specialists, academics, institutions and organisations across a wide range of countries.

Tiri receives funding from the Open Society Institute (OSI), the Ford Foundation, World Bank, UN agencies and the governments of Canada, Norway and the UK, among others.

Our distinguished board of trustees include Andrew Karney (ex non-executive board member of the Guardian Media Group, ex board member of Logica plc and now a management consultant for a number of companies including AT&T, British Airways, Inmarsat and Reuters); Shazadi Beg (immigration judge in the UK and a former secretary general of the Council of Immigration Judges); Jeremy Carver, CBE (head of international law at Clifford Chance LLC); HH Judge Eugene Cotran (District Court Judge, African law specialist and general editor of Butterworths Immigration Law Service); Rickie Sankar (ex head of finance at the Commonwealth Secretariat); and Clare Short MP (former UK Secretary of State for International Development).

Contact details: Tiri

Martin Tisné, Associate Programme Director, Tiri,, Cell: +44 7795 344 692

Fredrik Galtung, CEO, Tiri,, Cell: + 44 7979 648 877

Claire Schouten, Programme Manager, Tiri,, Cell: + 44 7946 936 301

Local contact persons

Afghanistan, Integrity Watch Afghanistan, Phone: +93 797 105 906

Yama Torabi,

Lorenzo Delesgues,

Bosnia & Herzegovina, Independent Bureau for Humanitarian Issues BiH, Phone/ Fax: +387 33 219 780/ +387 33 268 750

Zarko Papic,

Kosovo, Kosovar Stability Initiative, Phone: +381 38 540 686

Besa Shahini,

Lebanon, Lebanese Transparency Association, Phone/ Fax: +961 1293 045/ +961 1282 238        

Gaelle Kibranian,

Lebanese Center for Policy Studies, Phone/ Fax: +961 1490 561/6 / +961 1490 375

Nadine Khayat

Mozambique, Centro de Integridade Publica, Phone/Fax: +258 21 327 661

Marcelo Mosse,

Palestine, AMAN Coalition,, Phone/ Fax: +972 22989 506/ +972 22989492

Hadeel Qazzaz,

Sierra Leone, National Accountability Group, Phone/Fax: +232 22 240 995/ +232 22 241 054

Lavina Banduah,

Timor Leste, Timor Institute for Development Studies, Phone: +670 332 3889

Joao Saldanha,