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Buying peace or fuelling war: the role of corruption in armed conflicts


  • Philippe Le Billon

    (Liu Institute for Global Issues, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada)


Although corruption may have a corrosive effect on economies and rule-based institutions, it also forms part of the fabric of social and political relationships. This endogenous character means that conflict may be engendered more by changes in the pattern of corruption than by the existence of corruption itself. Such changes, frequently associated with domestic or external shocks, can lead to armed conflict as increasingly violent forms of competitive corruption between factions 'fuel war' by rewarding belligerents. Controversially, 'buying-off' belligerents can facilitate a transition to peace; but 'sticks' such as economic sanctions, rather than 'carrots', have dominated international conflict resolution instruments. While 'buying peace' can present a short-term solution, the key challenge for peace-building initiatives and fiscal reforms is to shift individual incentives and rewards away from the competition for immediate corrupt gains. This may be facilitated by placing public revenues under international supervision during peace processes. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • Philippe Le Billon, 2003. "Buying peace or fuelling war: the role of corruption in armed conflicts," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(4), pages 413-426.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jintdv:v:15:y:2003:i:4:p:413-426 DOI: 10.1002/jid.993

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sanjeev Gupta, 1998. "Does Corruption Affect Income Inequality and Poverty?," IMF Working Papers 98/76, International Monetary Fund.
    2. repec:cup:apsrev:v:75:y:1981:i:04:p:901-910_18 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Christian Harm & Joshua Charap, 1999. "Institutionalized Corruption and the Kleptocratic State," IMF Working Papers 99/91, International Monetary Fund.
    4. Mauro, Paolo, 1998. "Corruption and the composition of government expenditure," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 263-279, June.
    5. Paolo Mauro, 1995. "Corruption and Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(3), pages 681-712.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kjetil Bjorvatn & Mohammad Reza Farzanegan, 2014. "Resource Rents, Power, and Political Stability," CESifo Working Paper Series 4727, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. James A. Piazza, 2016. "Oil and terrorism: an investigation of mediators," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 169(3), pages 251-268, December.
    3. Audrey Rose Menard, 2014. "Do natural resources condition the aid-governance relationship? Evidence from Africa," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 34(2), pages 1317-1326.
    4. K. Bjorvatn & A. Naghavi, 2010. "Rent seekers in rentier states: When greed brings peace," Working Papers 690, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
    5. Mohammad Reza Farzanegan & Stefan Witthuhn, 2014. "Demographic Transition and Political Stability: Does Corruption Matter?," CESifo Working Paper Series 5133, CESifo Group Munich.
    6. Syropoulos, Constantinos & Zylkin, Thomas, 2015. "The Problem of Peace: A Story of Corruption, Destruction, and Rebellion," School of Economics Working Paper Series 2015-5, LeBow College of Business, Drexel University.
    7. Igor Abramov, 2009. "Building Peace in Fragile States – Building Trust is Essential for Effective Public–Private Partnerships," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 89(4), pages 481-494, March.
    8. Rettberg, Angelika, 2016. "Need, creed, and greed: Understanding why business leaders focus on issues of peace," Business Horizons, Elsevier, vol. 59(5), pages 481-492.
    9. Bjorvatn, Kjetil & Naghavi, Alireza, 2011. "Rent seeking and regime stability in rentier states," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 740-748.
    10. John R. Hudson, 2011. "Conflict and Corruption," Chapters,in: Handbook on the Economics of Conflict, chapter 8 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    11. James Boyce, 2007. "Public Finance, Aid and Post-Conflict Recovery," Working Papers wp140, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
    12. David M Malone & Heiko Nitzschke, 2010. "Economic Agendas in Civil Wars: What We Know, What We Need to Know," Working Papers id:3226, eSocialSciences.
    13. Horatiu Rus, 2014. "Corruption, conflict and the management of natural resources," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 15(4), pages 355-386, November.

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