Arms trade corrupt, says think tank Sipri

Armed man in silhouette
Image caption Sipri said that if corruption was eradicated, funds could be freed up for non-defence spending

Corruption in the global arms industry is systemic and widespread, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri).

"Corruption in the arms trade contributes roughly 40% to all corruption in global transactions," the think tank said in its 2011 yearbook.

The problem could be tackled by a global arms trade treaty, Sipri said.

Such a treaty should both outlaw corruption and provide mechanisms for enforcement, it said.

Secretive and clubby

Currently, corruption in the arms trade is encouraged by a number of systemic features, Sipri said.

The industry's "deep and abiding link to matters of national security obscures many deals from oversight and accountability", according to yearbook authors Andrew Feinstein, Paul Holden and Barnaby Pace.

Moreover, "these close relationships blur the lines between the state and the industry", they said.

This fostered "an attitude that relegates legal concerns to the background".

Political will

If corruption was eradicated, many states could be spending less on each arms deal, thus freeing up funds for peaceful purposes, Sipri suggested.

"This corruption exacts a heavy toll on purchasing and selling countries, undermining democratic institutions of accountability and diverting valuable resources away from pressing social needs."

Sipri acknowledges that political will is required to tackle this problem.

To drum up such political support, Sipri said the public should "voice its opposition to the status quo".

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