Small Arms Sales & Corruption in Defence Industries

A new Stockholm International Piece Research Institute (SIPRI) report entitled “Transfers of small arms and light weapons to fragile Statesstrengthening oversight and control ” finds that the challenge for the international community is to ensure that fragile states receive the arms that they require, while limiting the negative impacts on conflict dynamics, stabilisation efforts and governance. The  full SIPRI report can be accessed at:

Vast amounts of money, combined with a secretive purchasing process, can be a formula for corruption. This is often the case in the field of procurement in the defence and security sector. Defence procurement is the process of purchasing defence equipment – from boots to submarines. The money spent on defence procurement comes from the taxpayer, making the oversight of this spending critical and public understanding of corruption in defence procurement imperative. In procurement, corruption can take many forms. Corruption can also spur the acquisition of equipment that does not fulfill technical requirements and offers little to no strategic advantage to the purchaser. In Indonesia, for example,only 76 out of 317 naval vessels are operational, and only half of their combat planes are airworthy.  In spite of this, the most recent procurement contracts in Indonesia have been for Russian attack helicopters and battle tanks, a technical oversight claimed to be a result of supplier influence. This mismatch of equipment to need leaves solider vulnerable to foreign attacks. If soldiers cannot defend themselves, their citizens become vulnerable as well. The full report by Transparency International can be accessed at:

The majority of governments studied in Transparency International’s Government Defence Anti-Corruption Index fail to protect themselves adequately against the risk of corruption in the defence sector. Fifty seven of the 82 countries assessed, or 70 per cent, have high to critical risk of corruption, scoring in bands D, E, or F. These countries leave themselves exposed to the danger and waste that corruption in this sector brings.  

Just two countries, Australia and Germany, are in Band A, exhibiting strong protection against the risk of corruption in their defence sectors. These countries have defence establishments that are accountable to their citizens; they are transparent about their spending and activities, and have strong controls in place to combat corruption that are actively enforced. Thirty per cent of countries, those in bands B and C, have low or moderate risk of corruption, but with shortcomings that still leave them exposed. There is room for improvement everywhere: not one country received a perfect score across all 77 questions.  The full report can be accessed at: