What we’re reading on conflict & governance – Covid-19 edition, 15 May (and the final one from us!)

🚨 Big announcement! 🚨

This week is the 8th of our weekly ‘What we’re reading’ Covid-19 edition, going back to 27 March, and it is our last. After today, Alisha Patel and I are handing over the reins to K4D who will be producing a weekly Covid-19 Governance & Conflict Evidence Summary like the one that they’re already doing for health. This will continue to be published on a Friday from next week in time for your weekend pleasure (or, more ideally, your Monday morning reading after a restful weekend..).

In addition to the evidence, analysis and list of data trackers/resource hubs we’ve been providing, Sian Herbert (K4D/GSDRC Research Fellow) will also be keeping a look-out for relevant online learning and events. You’ll be able to access them from the K4D Covid-19 Resource Hub and via the K4D and GSDRC twitter accounts.

👉Going forward, if you have something you’d like to see included, please send to Sian Herbert at s.herbert@birmingham.ac.uk with a link and 1 sentence description.👈 

DFID Research & Evidence Division (RED)-funded research teams designated with a 🌟.  Many thanks this week to Ben Powis, Lydia Stone, Marcus Lenzen, Peter Evans, Sean Hilhorst and colleagues in DFID’s C19 CSG Hub, and to all of the colleagues who have shared resources over the past couple of months.

I’ll continue to collect Covid-19 resources related to corruption and serious organised crime, given my own research interests, and will continue to share here on my blog.

This has been a real labour of love given that when we first started this we could not have anticipated the explosion in analysis on Covid-19 and its impacts on governance and conflict. What’s kept us going through the late nights pulling these emails together every week is the feedback we’ve had from so many of you about how you’ve used this to help in your own work.

As always, stay safe, everyone.

With all our very best, Alisha & Heather

Infographic of the week

Corona graph 2 final

We’re hoping that this infographic is going to become as popular as the famous distracted boyfriend meme (you know the one) – and this new Arabic version is certainly going to help facilitate this ambition. Huge shout out to Emma Wind and Bayan Dahdah for their translation skills.

Threads/News/Blogs/Thought pieces/Research

ACAPS, Colombia: Latest Developments

Food insecurity is becoming a critical priority in the current emergency response in Colombia, due to COVID-19. The World Food Programme estimates more than 950,000 people in need of food assistance.

ACAPS, Yemen Crisis Insight: Trends in 2019 & Outlook into 2020

This report aims to provide a summary of key trends that affected the humanitarian situation in 2019, and key trends to watch in 2020, to support humanitarian planning.

African Arguments, Africa Elections: All the Upcoming Votes

This Africa elections map shows you all the upcoming votes.

Alex de Waal, Governance implications of epidemic disease in Africa: updating the agenda for Covid-19 🌟

This incredibly useful paper from the lead of the DFID-funded Conflict Research Programme looks at some of the evidence of the governance impacts from different resources and pulls out lessons for issues like state capacity and state failure, among others.

Alexandra Wrage, The search for a coronavirus vaccine could lead to greater corruption

The president of TRACE discusses how the trillions being put into the search for a vaccine globally carries big risks of abuse, fraud and corruption without sufficient safeguards in place.

Alexandra Wrage We Can’t Stop the Coronavirus Unless We Stop Corruption

The world is pouring trillions of dollars into coronavirus vaccines and economic stimulus efforts. Without stringent anti-corruption safeguards in place, it is not difficult to predict wasted public funds, weakened government institutions, and ultimately, devastating effects on communities and individuals.

Andrew Bauer, Three Proposals for Mineral-Dependent Countries During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Bauer notes that while gold and uranium prices have climbed during the coronavirus pandemic, the prices of most other widely traded minerals have collapsed. He proposes three measures that officials can take to help safeguard their mining sectors: 1) support mine workers and foreign exchange generation, rather than shareholders; 2) resist impulsive tax relief and subsidy measures; and 3) distinguish between public sector liquidity and solvency crises.

Andrew Bauer & David Mihalyi, Coronavirus, the Oil Crash and Economies: How Can Governments of Oil-Dependent Countries Respond? (précis in French)

As net exporters of oil and gas are among those countries suffering the greatest economic shock as a result of the pandemic, Bauer and Mihalyi explore how governments might respond. They outline four principles for governments to take into account: 1) consider the role of sovereign wealth funds and borrowing; 2) resist the temptation to provide stimulus to the oil industry, whether through subsidies or tax cuts; and 3) devalue currencies slowly (in some countries).

Andries du Toit, COVID-19 responses in Africa: Ok, one size doesn’t fit all. Now what?

Since the COVID-19 pandemic started spreading, it has been clear that the societies of the developing world face dreadful challenges. Even in wealthy countries, where health systems are relatively strong and foreign reserves are deep, the health and economic impacts of the crisis are daunting. How should governments of poorer, less industrialised countries respond?

Ankit Panda, Making sense of Vietnam’s suspected Covid-19 cyber espionage on China

Fascinating podcast from Diplomatic Risk Intelligence and a timely reminder that geopolitics is being reshaped in all sorts of ways but with little sense yet for what it all may add up to.

Article 19, Ensuring the Public’s Right to Know in the COVID-19 Pandemic

Freedom of expression organisation ARTICLE 19 has warned that the coronavirus pandemic could have a negative impact on global freedom of information.

Background Briefing with Ian Masters Podcast, The Pandemic is Magnifying Already Grave Economic and Security Problems

Podcast featuring Frances Z Brown from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Benedict Brook, Coronavirus: Why deaths have fallen in Norway, South Africa despite Covid-19

Positive unintended consequences of the coronavirus response include less exposure to flu and fewer road traffic accidents, which is actually resulting in some countries bucking the trend and reporting fewer excess deaths.

Brenno Grillo, Prosecutors crack down on COVID-19 corruption

When Brazil declared a state of calamity in March, mayors, governors, and the federal government became exempt from several checks-and-balances controls over public contracts as a way to fast-track procurement for the Covid-19 fight. Grillo argues that the move also opens the door for corrupt politicians and business owners to embezzle money.

Canadian Council for the Americas Podcast, An interview with Thomas Carothers, Senior Vice President for Studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

In this episode, hosts Chris and Ken speak to Thomas Carothers, Senior Vice President for Studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The three speak about the state of democracy during the COVID-19 pandemic, lessons to learn from government action during the outbreak and more.

Carol Guensburg, Massive COVID Spending Could Unleash Surge of Scams, Experts Warn

In this report for VOA, Guensburg argues that governments, businesses, nongovernmental organizations and charities at every level, in every country, are preoccupied with their own immediate challenges, so experts in the anti-corruption arena foresee more potential for graft, price gouging, embezzling and other misdeeds – and more need to counter it.

Catholic News, Caritas Honduras calls for transparency in COVID-19 aid distribution

Caritas Honduras has called for transparency in the distribution of COVID-19 assistance, which, according to a crescendo of accusations, has been used for political purposes in the impoverished country rife with corruption.

Cedric di Conig, Covid-19 will change the way the UN conducts peacekeeping operations in the future

From short-term adaptations to potential longer-term impacts, this blog looks at a range of impacts and which ones may outlive the current crisis.

CGTN, Rights groups urge IMF to address corruption in COVID-19 emergency funding

A group of civil society organisations from across the world called on the International Monetary Fund to include anti-corruption measures in all its COVID-19 related emergency funding. The 99 organisations added that the IMF must take tangible actions to help protect and empower civil society groups to monitor these funds.

Charlotte Watts, How Covid-19 could undo years of progress in the developing world 🌟

DFID’s very own Chief Scientist and member of SAGE was interviewed in the Telegraph about some of her fears for the future and about what is being done to support Covid interventions.

Christoper Weible et al, Covid-19 and the policy sciences

This article in the journal Policy Sciences brings together leading policy scholars to discuss a range of ways policy science can contribute to improving Covid-19 responses, and also a reminder that decisions being made now will be studied in the future, beyond any likely public enquiries.

CIPE, Corruption and Covid-19: an interview with anti-corruption practitioner James Wasserstrom

Drawing on decades of experience, from the HIV/Aids epidemic in the 1980s on, this interview with Wasserstrom provides a number of reasons why standards on anti-corruption can’t be dropped despite the urgency of Covid-19 responses.

Claire Elder, The humanitarian response to COVID-19 in Somalia will increase capital flight and violent conflict

Elder’s piece explores the power of aid contractors and patronage politics in Somalia. As aid is redirected towards Covid-19 response globally, she warns that previous aid relief packages (eg in response to the 2011 Horn famine) have been associated with subsequent periods of violent conflict.

Claire Melamud, Five ways to have better data after Covid-19

Guest post for FP2P from the CEO of the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data with some practical suggestions for what we should be looking to invest in and principles for this.

Clare Cummings, Nigeria’s response to Covid-19 🌟

From the RED-funded Effective States & Inclusive Development research programme, Clare discusses how Nigeria was effective in its response to Ebola, despite weak state capacity, and lessons from this.

Cligendael Institute, The politics of Covid-19 in the Sahel

A short report setting out different state responses in the region and what they mean for elections, civil liberties and governance.

Committee to Protect Journalists, Hackers steal information from 2 journalists covering COVID-19 and corruption in Paraguay

The Committee to Protect Journalists commended the swift actions by Paraguayan authorities to investigate the hacking of two journalists’ phones, and urged them to see the investigation to its conclusion and hold those responsible to account. Both journalists had recently reported on alleged corruption relating to contracting by the Ministry of Health.

David Dawkins, Whistleblower Laws Take Shape As Trillion-Dollar Global Cost of Coronavirus Crisis Forces Rethink

Whistleblowers undoubtedly play a part in shaping the world we live in. With the current coronavirus pandemic in mind, there’s a growing argument that they need help in dealing with the loss of earnings, career, reputation and self-confidence whenever a public interest threshold is met for a whistleblower’s revelations.

Dennis Rogers & Steffen Jensen, From Managua to Cape Town – dealing drugs in the time of Covid-19

From calling in debts early to increasing use of violence, anthropologists Rogers and Jensen look at how drugs gangs are adapting. Depressing silver-lining quote from a Nicaraguan drug dealer on how shattered livelihoods are affecting his business: ‘This country is f***ed. People don’t have any money, so they don’t come to buy [drugs] anymore.’

Economy Next, “No questions asked” – COVID-19 money laundering risks emerge: TISL `

Sri Lanka’s new “no questions asked” policy on deposits of foreign currency should be consistent with the country’s anti-money laundering framework, Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) said. Recognising the need for policies to bolster foreign currency reserves, TISL expressed concern over recent steps taken by the government in this regard.

Ed Ololo-Okere, Can corruption risks be mitigated without hindering governments’ Covid-19 response? 

From the World Bank’s Director of the Governance Global Practice, highlights from a new World Bank policy brief setting out a number of priorities and potential approaches for ensuring integrity in Covid-19 responses.

Elaine Dezenski, Contagion of Chinese corruption will threaten post-pandemic recovery in developing world

When the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, Dezenski argues that Beijing will likely present itself as a partner for economic recovery. For seven years now, China has been promoting its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a trillion-dollar network of loosely connected infrastructure and economic projects around the world. Beijing likes to argue that it is a better partner than Western governments or multilateral institutions such as the IMF, since the BRI dispenses with a variety of typical investment conditions, including those designed to prevent graft and facilitate responsible spending. China’s no-strings-attached policy has resulted in waste, opacity and bribery on a dizzying scale, destabilizing the countries that hoped to benefit from China’s largesse.

Eleanor Hutchinson, Anthony Mbonye, Sunday Mundua, Lydia Ochero, Sian Clarke, Dina Balabanova, Kristian Hansen & Freddy Kitutu, Tackling Covid-19 in Uganda: Private medicine outlets at the front-line 🌟

Researchers with the DFID-funded SOAS Anti-Corruption Evidence (SOAS ACE) consortium on the need to bring private drugs clinics into Covid planning, including what some of the political issues might be.

Elisa Peters, Covid-19 and the shrinking space for dissent

A look at ways in which political space is shrinking in many countries and a call for greater transparency from Publish What We Pay

Ellie Horrocks, Covid-19 policy responses for those small enough to fail (part 2)

This piece from UNDP’s Youth:Co Lab sets out some great examples for ways that policy can better respond to the needs of the vulnerable, arguing for policy-making to be adaptive in the face of such huge uncertainty. A nice shout-out for the DFID discussion paper from Peter Evans and me too, particularly the bit on how sequencing is a myth, something that seems to be resonating if feedback and citations is anything to go by.

Erin Anderson, Closing borders will not stop human trafficking in ASEAN

Despite all of the closed borders and difficulty travelling, human trafficking – including of children – continues, including increasing numbers of children facing sexual exploitation online.

Farid Farid, Egypt leverages ‘soft power’ through medical aid in pandemic

My Birmingham colleague Gerasimos Tsourapas has written extensively about how states use migration policy as a soft power tool, and he’s interviewed in this article on how Egypt is doing the same with Covid-19 aid.

Financial Mirror, COVID-19: Pandemic increases risk of healthcare corruption

Corruption risks tend to increase in times of crisis, especially when institutions and surveillance are weak while public confidence is low, according to a study by the Cyprus Integrity Forum (CIF). According to the study, during crises, such as the deadly Coronavirus outbreak, the risk of corruption in healthcare is exacerbated by the dramatically increased pressure on the system.

FMT News, Desperation will fuel corruption post-MCO, warn groups

Anti-corruption group Transparency International Malaysia foresees an increase in corruption once the movement control order (MCO) is lifted, citing the desperation caused by the economic slowdown in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.

Frances Z Brown, Can Dr. Birx and Dr. Fauci Serve President Trump in Good Conscience?

The overriding reason for career public servants like Birx and Fauci to remain on the job is to influence the work from the inside.

Franck Bousquet & Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, Covid-19 in fragile settings: ensuring a conflict-sensitive response 

Bousquet (Senior Director of the World Bank’s Fragility, Conflict & Violence Group) and Fernandez-Taranco (Assistant UN Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support) set out how the joint UN-World Bank study on Pathways to Peace and the World Bank’s recent Strategy for FCV provide critical principles to help country level responses. As Heather flagged last week in reference to a WB blog,the same can be said of DFID’s ‘Building Stability Framework’.

Galih Gumelar, Perppu on COVID-19 aid puts graft fight at stake

As the House of Representatives in Jakarta prepares to pass an executive order that will expand the government’s authority to allocate emergency coronavirus spending, this report looks at how legal experts are warning that the new regulation would be a blow to the country’s fight against corruption.

Global Governance Futures Podcast, Surveillance: Means or End?

2020 will be remembered as the year when a novel strain of coronavirus spread around the globe, leaving a trail of death, despair and disruption in its wake. In this podcast, they explore the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting lives worldwide, askinghow it will change the world as we know it – from the global economy and geopolitics to the long-term consequences for people, societies and cultures.

Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime, Are Mozambique’s insurgents closing in on illicit trafficking profits? 

Important research from Global Initiative on how Cabo Delgado insurgents are increasingly linked in to the illicit economy. Though not explicitly focused on Covid-19 here, there are obvious increased risks given around transport hubs, livelihoods and pressure on government resources, capacity and attention.

Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime, A parallel contagion: is mafia entrepreneurship exploiting the contagion?

Interviews with leading organised crime law enforcement and prosecutors unpack the ways in which mafias are also ‘pivoting’ on Covid-19 including what this may mean for democracy here in Europe and beyond

Helen Lewis, Women leaders aren’t better. Strongmen are worse

There are a lot of pieces of analysis out right now on why women are better leaders when it comes to Covid-19, such as this one. Lewis makes the case for avoiding an instrumentalist approach to women’s leadership, where women can be bad leaders and men can be good ones. Instead, she argues that what we’re seeing now is the failure of ‘strongman politics’ and the need for a different style of leadership, regardless of who is in charge.

ICLG, COVID-19: (Asia-Pacific) As Supply Chains Reopen, What are the Risks?

By all accounts, the global commercial environment will have changed substantially due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Unexpected events like the COVID-19 pandemic present an ideal climate for enterprising, if not necessarily unscrupulous, opportunists.

IMF, How the IMF is Promoting Transparent and Accountable Use of COVID-19 Financial Assistance

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the IMF states that it maintains its commitment to address governance and corruption vulnerabilities in member countries. The IMF is working to balance the need for immediate COVID-19 financing against appropriate accountability and transparency to ensure, as best as possible, that financial help reaches those in need, the announcement says.

Indrajit Roy, A post-colonial world: a decolonised future for global development 

This analysis from the University of York looks at how the ways in which development diplomacy is being reshaped by Covid as some traditional donor countries struggle, some newer donors do well  and some developing countries find their own solutions faster.

Institute for Government, Coronavirus: impact of government response on public borrowing

What impact will the government’s coronavirus response have on public borrowing? To what extent will the coronavirus economic shutdown lead to an increase in public borrowing? How do government measures directly affect public borrowing? How high will borrowing be this year as a result of the coronavirus crisis?

Jane Lonsdale and Rosita Armytage, How adaptive are ‘Adaptive Management’ programmes in a crisis like Covid?

The Coronavirus has provided the perfect natural experiment, buffeting aid programmes of every stripe and testing their ability to respond. Here’s some views directly from an Adaptive Management programme, Myanmar’s Centre for Good Governance, outlining what they’ve been doing and the lessons they’ve drawn so far on the rollercoaster weeks since Coronavirus hit.

Jane Alver, Are young women leaders in the Pacific being heard during the Covid-19 crisis? 

Despite the backlash against women during Covid-19, young women in the Pacific are organising around existing social movements, or new ones, to work collectively support human rights and a range of other issues

Janeen Maden Keller, Julia Kaufman & Amanda Glassman, Accountability for Covid-19 aid: better visibility matters for the quality of the response

Learning lessons from Haiti and the ebola crisis in West Africa, this is an urgent call from CGD to make for global trackers on aid that set minimum standards for transparency and reporting.

Jason Burke, Coronavirus border closures strand tens of thousands of people across Africa

This report for the Guardian looks at how the pandemic has pushed some migrants to take enormous risks on the final stages of their journeys to reach Europe. The combination of increased risk and demands for bigger bribes from corrupt border guards have pushed transportation fees for the trip across the Red Sea to US$1,000 (£800), up from US$500 before the pandemic, while the fee to cross the desert frontier from Niger into Libya has gone from about $80 to as much as $300.

Joel Konopo, Censorship, the unexpected side-effect of COVID-19

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a further centralisation of power in Botswana where Parliament recently passed an emergency bill that gives Masisi sweeping powers to rule by decree for a six-month period. One alarming provision of the president’s emergency powers is the introduction of a prison term of up to five years or a $10 000 fine for anyone publishing information with “the intention to deceive” the public about Covid-19 or measures taken by government to address the virus.  Critics say the law, with broad and vague definitions, is a gift to authoritarian leaders who want to use the public health crisis to grab power and suppress freedom of speech.

Julia Zulver, In Colombia, Pandemic Heightens Risks for Women Social Leaders

Women in Colombia who support and empower their communities, often against organized violence, face unique and gendered threats. The coronavirus pandemic has made these even more acute.

Laura Spinney, The Coronavirus slayer! How Kerala’s rock star health minister helped save it from Covid-19

It’s just so heartening to see how effective leadership, planning, local level contact tracing and coalition building – all applied in a low income setting – have so far resulted in so many lives being saved. And another female leader (or non-strongman…) absolutely slaying.

Lee Morgenbesser, Dictators can’t fake elections under coronavirus

Not a ‘feel-good’ story really, I’m afraid. Instead Morgenbesser looks at how some of the democracy-promotion activities that dictators use to hide behind are being suspended, which just makes their authoritarian actions more visible.

Marie-Eve Desrosiers & Philippe Legasse, Appreciating the politics of the pandemic

A Canadian perspective on the politics of Covid-19, including issues like multilateralism, China and many others. They talk briefly about ‘image management’, which GSDRC Director Jonathan Fisher has written about in terms of African leaders, the Global War on Terror and diplomacy. This is worth watching out for.

Marisa von Bulow, Lessons From Brazil’s Poor to Fight the Coronavirus

As Brazilian politicians argue over how to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, civil society organizations from the country’s slums have come together to educate and advocate for their communities. But they cannot do it alone.

MedCity News, Global survey on fraud and COVID-19 finds links between corruption and deaths

A new study from Nemexis, an Berlin-based anti-fraud consulting firm, found that fraud and corruption in healthcare services reduced healthcare delivery contributing to Covid-19 related death in every third country surveyed. In fact, that led to whistleblower complaints in half of the 58 countries surveyed.

Michael Cross, More than 40 countries considering online justice

Jurisdictions from Argentina to Uganda to Bangladesh are among those turning to online courts in order to keep their justice systems going during the pandemic. The Remote Courts Worldwide initiative says it has received information about remote courts in more than 40 countries.

Miroslava German Sirotnikova, After the Virus, Fighting Corruption Tops Slovak To-Do List

Sworn in on March 21, Slovakia’s new cabinet took power after two years of unrest following the murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak, a crime that exposed a shocking entanglement of powerful business and political interests. In the throes of political chaos and the public health nightmare, the new government put together a legislative programme that was passed by parliament last week. After only days in office, Kajetan Kicura, director of state material reserves, was fired for suspiciously inflated procurement prices for essential medical supplies needed to fight coronavirus. The COVID-19 crisis did not stop the authorities going still further to root out graft.

Nayef Al-Rodhan, Meta-geopolitics of pandemics: the case of Covid-19

Really interesting analysis from the Geneva Centre for Security Policy looking at how geopolitics will affect domestic politics and policies as well as global ones, with concrete recommendations for states and international organisations.

Nic Cheeseman, Coronavirus and the Electoral Dilemma

Nic explains why postponing elections for COVID-19 may do more harm than good.

Oxfam/David Mwambari, Power in the pandemic

The first in a new podcast from Oxfam looking to capture global voices. In this episode David Mwambari from Kings College London sets out a post-Covid, pan-African vision for decolonialisation, which you can also read about here.

Paolo Israel, Making sense of Mozambique’s brutal insurgency

On the growing insurgency in Cabo Delgado province in Mozambique,  Israel’s piece explains this growth in the context of a history of social banditry, disaffected youth, trafficking opportunities, the presence of international capital and global jihadist attention. A complex mix.

Paul Hoffman, An International Anti-Corruption Court could help recover funds for the fight against COVID-19

The trail of destruction left by the pandemic presents an opportunity to reconsider the culture of grand corruption with impunity, which imperils the future of humankind in ways more insidious and continuous than the pandemic, an opinion piece in the Daily Maverick says. For too long now, Hoffman argues, the kleptocrats have enjoyed impunity for their actions.

Rachel Cooper, Strengthening water security for pandemic preparedness 🌟

K4D/GSDRC Research Fellow Rachel Cooper looks at how water security is fundamentally important for pandemic responses but how water security (and WASH more generally) was already under threat before Covid-19 and evidence on what could be done to strengthen it for the future.

Rachel Kleinfeld, How States Can Make Voting by Mail Easier and Avoid Election Chaos

While pundits may debate whether the country should make the change, in the majority of states, individual voters can already choose whether to request an absentee ballot.

Rachel Kleinfeld & John Dickas, Why Trump Reaches for Nativism to Fight a Virus  – and How to Respond

Rachel and John look at how democracies have managed in the past to pull back from nativist political rhetoric and argue that it’s past time for the United States to do the same.

Rachel Kleinfeld & Joshua Kleinfeld, How to Hold Elections During a Pandemic

Rachel and Joshua argue that elections must be held and that people who want to vote must be able to do so without fear of infection and without worsening the pandemic.

Rebecca Nadin, If we weren’t ready for a predictable pandemic, what else aren’t we ready for 

Given everyone knew a pandemic was coming and still didn’t prepare, this analysis from ODI’s Global Risks and Resilience programme sets out a range of risks – all of which should be very familiar to everyone reading this – and then sets out a framework for ‘asking the right questions, not the easy ones’

Richard L Cassin, At Large: Will COVID-19 ‘crony charities’ trigger the next wave of FCPA fumbles?

Businesses and individuals in some countries are under pressure to donate to Covid-19 relief charities that have close ties to government officials, according to reports. In Kazakhstan, the ruling political party registered a social fund in March, a week after the country reported its first case of Covid-19. In nearby Uzbekistan, teachers, bankers, state employees, and others are being forced to donate to the Generosity and Assistance (Sahovat va Komak) Fund that was established on April 22 under orders of President Shavkat Mirziyoev. So-called crony charities aren’t new.

Rick Rowden, Covid-19 and illicit financial flows: what’s to come 

I’d like to say that this analysis from Global Financial Integrity is optimistic about IFFs, but that would be a lie sadly. Includes a specific section on emergency aid.

Rift Valley Institute, Responding to COVID-19 in South Sudan: Making local knowledge count 🌟

This briefing from Rift Valley Institute is worth provides real world examples of many of the issues that were in my paper with Peter Evans paper regarding the impact of emergency measures – particularly lockdown – on the security and indeed health of the majority of the population.

Robert Muggah, Coronavirus pandemic triggers dramatic shifts for drug cartels and global criminal underworld 

This article looks at how broken supply chains and absence of some traditional money laundering routes is leading to a rise in violence in many countries.

Sam Hamad, Sisi uses coronavirus to enshrine new powers at the expense of his people

Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has used the “national emergency” of coronavirus to amend the pre-existing emergency law to award himself more powers. This report argues that many of the powers make logistical sense, such as being able to close schools, universities and impose quarantines. The new amendments also include granting Sisi a number of new fiscal powers. Again, many of these are in line with measures that amount to good practice during a pandemic, but there’s no doubt that some of them have been taken to assuage the kleptocracy that is central to the Egyptian state.

Sam Mednick & Philip Kleinfeld, Coronavirus response takes backseat as election looms in Burundi

For people working in/on countries with upcoming elections during the pandemic, this piece in The New Humanitarian demonstrates how electoral calculus trumps virus mitigation – with huge risks stemming from mass rallies, crisis denialism and exclusion of experts and rising violence.

Sandra Maksimovic, Western Balkans media during COVID-19: Reporting on corruption became even harder

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) state that there is a clear correlation between suppression of media freedom in response to the coronavirus pandemic, and a country’s ranking in the World Press Freedom Index. Due to public attention turned to coronavirus-related statistics and measures, there is a window open for cases of corruption to go unnoticed and this why the role of media as democratic procedure “watchdog” is even more important.

Sandrine Gagne-Acoulon, Philippines offers $600 for Information on Corrupt Officials

This report for OCCRP looks at how the Philippines government launched a countrywide investigation into possible diversion of COVID-19 emergency subsidies, with President Rodriguo Duterte promising citizens money for denunciation. The Department of Interior of the Philippines said on Tuesday it asked the police and the National Bureau of Investigation, the country’s anti-corruption unit, to “prioritize the investigation of graft and corruption cases against local officials”.

Sandrine Gagne-Acoulon & Rana Al-Sabbagh, Libya: Anti-Graft Audit Dispute Amid COVID-19 Emergency

In this report for OCCRP, the authors look at how Libyan authorities released on Friday the head of the country’s anti-corruption body after they kept him in detention for three days for alleged graft. His office, however, claims he was abducted because he was auditing the Interior Ministry’s spending during the pandemic.

Sandro Galea, Social scientists can play a key role in stopping the coronavirus

This editorial in the Times Higher from Boston University Dean of Public Health argues for the importance of social science in the Covid-19 response and calls for both science and social science to be careful to avoid research mistakes in the haste to provide useful evidence. Could be read alongside this piece by Matthew Reisz on calls from British Academy Fellows on how the ‘pandemic response needs “wisdom” of social sciences

SIPRI, Violence and Conflict Trends linked to C19

Video of a SIPRI Forum discussion on violence and conflict trends. The Covid-19 crisis is revealing what data has shown for a while: lines between different forms of violence (extremist-criminal-political-state-non-state) are blurred. They claim that the international community has been slow to recognise this and is not focused on the real problems.

Steven Feldstein, What Democracy Will Fall Next?

Feldstein argues that Hungary was the first democratic victim of the coronavirus, and it may not be the last.

The Economist, Desperate times call for accurate measures – lacking data, many African governments make policy in the dark

One priority area colleagues are looking at with urgency is how to improve the data available to policy makers to avoid the sorts of issues discussed in this article.

The Guardian, Will coronavirus lead to fairer societies? Thomas Piketty explores the prospects

Interview with the French economist on everything from public debt to globalisation and a lot in between. He also points to the Black Death as the closest historical equivalent to try to learn from. Heather recommends dusting off your copy of Barbara Tuchman’s A Distant Mirror if you have one.

The Recovery Project Podcast, Democracy in a Post COVID19 World

COVID19 has stressed state institutions and global relations. As we look ahead towards recovery, countries are going to be grappling with a variety of issues, some of them anticipated and others completely unforeseen. On this episode of the Recovery Project, IFSD’s Helaina Gaspard speaks with Thomas Carothers and Rachel Kleinfeld from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace about how this pandemic may impact democratic states, institutions and how to maintain public trust.

Transparency International Ukraine, Tests, masks and ventilators: Covid-related procurement in Ukraine

One for Good Governance Fund colleagues, but relevant for all country offices really, looking at the risks to procurement from moving fast without enough transparency

UN News, Corruption, political blockages, threaten international efforts to help Bosnia and Herzegovina weather coronavirus

Bosnia and Herzegovina is weathering the COVID-19 outbreak better than some other nations, but there’s a real danger that corruption will undermine global efforts to help it contain the pandemic, the international community’s High Representative to the Western Balkan country told the UN Security Council on Wednesday. He recommended the creation of mechanisms, run by the international community, to track international assistance to avoid profiteering.

UN PRAC Project, Preventing Corruption. A Priority During COVID-19

Adopting comprehensive auditing, oversight, accountability and reporting mechanisms to monitor the disbursement process is one of the key recommendations to prevent corruption in the Pacific during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, according to a new advisory note from the United Nations Pacific Regional Anti-Corruption (UN-PRAC) Project.

V-Dem Institute, Autocratization Surges – Resistance Grows

V-Dem Democracy Report 2020.  Autocratization – the decline of democratic traits – accelerates in the world: for the first time since 2001, autocracies are in the majority: 92 countries – home to 54% of the global population. Almost 35% of the world’s population live in autocratizing nations – 2.6 billion people.

Warren Crafchik, Covid-19 poses heightened challenges for public budgets

From the International Budget Partnership, Crafchik looks at evidence from IBP’s work on open budgeting and sets out why governments should work with civil society, the private sector and donors to advance budget transparency and oversight in their Covid response and recovery planning. Transparency and openness matter.

Useful sites & twitter threads curating content to follow

CGD, Coronavirus preparedness & response

CIPE, Corruption & Cofid-19 resources

ECPR Standing Group on Organised Crime, Controcorrente (dedicated Covid-19 blog series)

GI-TOC, Covid Crime Watch

Global Voices, Covid-19: Global voices for a pandemic

ICNL, COVID-19 Civic Freedom Tracker (Will Taylor)


IDS, Covid-19: the social science response to the pandemic 🌟

IFES Twitter, COVID-19 Briefing Series

Jorge Mantilla (UC-Chicago), Twitter thread curating pieces on Covid-19, conflict and crime

K4D, Covid-19 Resource Hub 🌟

Political Settlements Research Programme, Conflict, development and Covid-19 resources 🌟

The Politics of Covid 19, The Politics of Covid 19

The Syllabus, The politics of Covid-19 readings

UCL Jill Dando Institute of Security & Crime Science, Covid-19 Special Papers

Various, Crowd-sourced cross-disciplinary coronavirus syllabus

One thought on “What we’re reading on conflict & governance – Covid-19 edition, 15 May (and the final one from us!)

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