Corruption in reconstruction: the cost of ‘national consensus’ in post-war Lebanon

Corruption in reconstruction: the cost of ‘national consensus’ in post-war Lebanon

An institutional approach to corruption in Lebanon

The paper attempts to analyse corruption in post-war reconstruction as a pattern, through exploring consensus politics in Lebanon. After covering the historical background to the war and the post-war settlement, it explores the institutional dimensions of reconstruction. It does not present any solutions or suggestions about curbing corruption in post-war reconstruction in general. Rather, it limits itself to examining how corruption was manifested through institutions in the case of post-civil war Lebanon.

Some of the findings of the paper include:

  • evidence indicates that post-war politics often increase corruption and protect the corrupt from accountability
  • reconstruction is a process that can be lucrative if abused and, as a result, is very vulnerable to corruption
  • post-war situations witness massive inflows of funds to finance recovery from international donors or through large- scale borrowing
  • the institutional infrastructure in post-war countries is either weakened or simply destroyed by years of pressure and violence
  • although consensus in the settlement of violent conflict is considered desirable from a conflict resolution and a functional perspective, the consensual, integrative approach seems to lead to deadlock and corruption when implemented at a systemic level.

The author also provides the following recommendations:

  • the consensus approach could be more useful on a macro-political level where the subject of negotiation and hence consensus involves a national dimension
  • reconstruction programmes should be well designed and based on real social priorities with a long-term vision of sustainable developmental needs and should also be subject to official control, public scrutiny and accountability mechanisms
  • international donors should monitor the channelled funds, imposing conditions of transparency and good governance on reconstruction projects and institutions implementing them
  • donors should also disburse funds in response to the needs of recovery, rather than fund disbursement itself
  • due importance should be given to institutional and capacity building of public institutions according to modern professional standards, and to the establishment of control mechanisms within and between them

According to the author, justification for consensus in post-war Lebanon has been stability, and legitimacy by the inclusion of minorities. The results have been inefficiency, corruption and state capture by former warlords or well-connected millionaires. The author states that stability has actually been maintained by corruption and by an external actor, Syria. Such intervention has discredited the system, and undermined its legitimacy.

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