Georgia’s military improves on anti-corruption controls, but momentum is starting to slow
Transparency International calls on Georgia to honour its commitments on defence integrity
Risk of corruption in Georgia’s defence sector has lessened in recent years, according to the 2015 Government Defence Anti-Corruption Index of Transparency International, which ranks Georgia in Band “C” – moderate risk of corruption – alongside France, Italy and Greece. In 2013, Georgia ranked “D” meaning it was a high risk of defence corruption.
Georgia joined NATO’s Building Integrity Program in 2013 and rolled out a comprehensive anti-corruption strategy and implementation plan, which has brought impressive reforms across the military, according to a new assessment by Transparency International. But there is also recent evidence of lessening momentum and delays in important reforms. The major challenge now facing the Georgian military is sustaining the pace of reform and implementing much-improved legal and institutional regulations.
Katherine Dixon, Programme Director Transparency International Defence and Security, said:
“As a priority Georgia should focus on the adoption of whistle-blower protection regulations for the defence sector, increasing parliamentary oversight and re-emphasising the importance of its commitment to continuing anti-corruption reforms.
Transparent and accountable defence institutions should be the heart of what NATO stands for as an Alliance. At a time of renewed focus on collective defence, NATO needs to be clear what it is there to defend - societies characterised by the highest democratic standards.
NATO is the world’s largest military and political alliance – through partnerships and military deployments NATO also exerts unparalleled global influence. Whether NATO member states are prepared to hold themselves to the highest standards of integrity and whether they are prepared to tackle corruption in states where they are engaged matters enormously to international security.”
The report shows that across NATO members and partner countries, standards varied widely. The UK topped the table in Band A, outperforming many European neighbours in areas such as whistleblowing and procurement. The USA, Germany and the Netherlands rank in Band B. Georgia scored above Portugal, Ukraine, Turkey and Armenia, which all rank in Band D, and Azerbaijan in Band E.
Full marks were awarded for Georgia’s engagement with civil society on anti-corruption initiatives, in a number of innovative ways including opening a Citizens’ Advice Bureau where the public can meet and raise issues directly with the senior leadership.
Georgia scored highest for Personnel, in Band B – and received full marks for using independent and objective panels for appointments and promotion, as well as it’s publicly available and actively implemented anti-corruption plan, and commitment amongst the senior leadership to integrity measures – though Defence Minister Khidasheli has been less vocal in this respect.
Georgia also scored well for introducing Building Integrity training courses and setting up an internal audit team, and has made major advances in procurement by dramatically increasing the number of non-confidential tenders advertised on the State Procurement Website.
Areas of concern include:
Procurement continues to represent the highest risk area, in “Band D” (high risk). There are also question marks over the strength of parliamentary oversight – the defence committee has become more active in scrutinising defence policies and spending but needs to become stronger. The Parliamentary Group of Confidence - set up to scrutinise confidential spending – has recently been bypassed by the Minister of Defence during the acquisition of its air defence system, in direct violation of a 2013 legal amendment requiring the ministry to notify the committee prior to such purchases.
While the MoD has taken some positive actions to encourage whistle-blowing, internal procedures to protect whistle-blowers in defence have not yet been introduced and this represents a significant gap according to the assessment.
The report is part of a series of studies on the integrity of the world’s defence institutions. Findings across the Middle East, Asia, and the G20 shows that global military expenditure is rising dramatically in exactly those places where governance is weakest, posing a threat to international peace and stability.
Transparency International is urging NATO and European powers to think longer term about their approach to these countries, particularly the risks posed from exporting military capability to what are inherently unstable environments.
NATO: the facts
- The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is the world’s largest military and political alliance.
- Its member states are among the world’s 15 top defence spenders.
- In 2014, their budgets constituted 46.5% of worldwide expenditure.
- 10 out of the world’s 20 largest arms exporters are NATO members and a further 3 are European partners.
Full results available at government.defenceindex.org on 00:01 (GMT) Thursday 3 December 2015.
Communications Manager Transparency International
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Notes for editors:
The Government Defence Anti-Corruption Index (GI) assesses the existence and effectiveness of institutional and informal controls to manage the risk of corruption in defence and security institutions and of their enforcement. Transparency International’s team of experts draws together evidence from a wide variety of sources and interviewees across 77 indicators to provide the government with a detailed assessment of the integrity of their defence institutions.
The 2015 NATO report publishes the country risk rankings derived from this data and examines the trends across NATO members and partner states.
The report follows the G20, MENA and Asia Pacific reports published in November 2015. Forthcoming reports based on the 2015 index will be released on Africa, the Americas, and Fragile States.