“Corruption in the arms trade contributes roughly 40% to all corruption in global transactions,” suggests the Stockholm Institute for Peace Research, citing studies.
It is a staggering figure, if correct, and as Sipri points out, it is not without its consequences. Corruption is frequently cited as undermining political governance, with Afghanistan one prime example.
Sipri notes that “a number of systemic features of the arms trade encourage corruption.” Those include that arms deals are often not subject to oversight owing to their special status as national security deals and the existence of “a small coterie of brokers, dealers and officials with appropriate security clearances.”
BAE Systems recently finalized a settlement with the U.S. Justice Dept. over corruption claims, and the U.K. Serious Fraud Office and EADS are looking into allegations that one of the aerospace company’s U.K. subsidiaries may have committed fraud.
Sipri offers some suggestions for what could help mitigate the problem. Arms trade treaties that outlaw corruption and include enforcement mechanisms are one; another is introducing more rigorous “cooling off” periods between government employees and defense firms. “These reforms require political will, which, in turn, demands that the public voice its opposition to the status quo.”