Corruption and conflict in the South Caucasus


Corruption and conflict in the South Caucasus

This report examines the connections between corruption and frozen conflicts in the South Caucasus region, exploring corruption on all sides. It is the first systematic study of corruption from the perspective of conflict analysis and the first to include the unrecognised entities of the region.

Although the active armed struggles in the South Caucasus came to an end in the early 1990s, since then, the region has been in a state of ‘frozen’ conflict in which official negotiations have not led to any positive results.

The goals of the conflicting sides remain mutually exclusive and the threat of renewed armed confrontation is continuous, highlighted by sporadic violent incidents between the various sides. The security situation has allowed neither the development of transparent and accountable governance and civil society institutions, nor a fully-fledged private sector and market economy.

In the absence of a political solution to the conflicts, the societies of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia, as well as Nagorny Karabakh, Abkhazia and South Ossetia have adjusted to the persistent threat of renewed violence and corruption has become embedded in the existing institutional, legal, cultural and economic context.

The report focuses on perceptions of corruption, which are significant as they create public opinion, construct social agendas, build or destroy enemy images, i.e. construct a belief system that can bring peace or war.

It looks first at general perceptions of corruption in the region, then goes on to examine and identify those groups who benefit from the current status quo of frozen conflict and/or will benefit from an escalation of the conflict (governmental institutions, the private sector, local and international non-governmental institutions, the military) and then looks at the prospects for peace in societies in the South Caucasus affected by corruption.

It goes on to make recommendations for further discussion and consideration to be developed in the region with local actors as well as with decision-making institutions in the international community in order to devise peacebuilding strategies.

The report is is the product of a series of one-to-one interviews and focus groups with a wide range of stakeholders. It is based on field research and subsequent analysis carried out between July 2004 and July 2005 by a team of researchers from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia as well as Nagorny Karabakh, Abkhazia and South Ossetia across the South Caucasus, facilitated by International Alert.