Contact l Sitemap

home industries issues reasearch weblog press

Home  » Industries » War & Disaster Profiteering

IRAQ: Reconstruction Efforts 'Rife with Corruption and Waste'

A new study is particularly critical of donors' tendency to use large western contractors to repair infrastructure damaged in the war, importing foreign personnel and equipment at a huge cost. In Iraq, that policy has proved disastrous, one of the authors said.

by Thomas Catan and Jimmy BurnsThe Financial Times
January 24th, 2005

The authors of a new report on post-conflict reconstruction have warned that efforts to rebuild Iraq have so far proved wasteful, ineffective and rife with corruption.

The report, to be released in London today, was funded by the United Nations Development Programme and draws on examples of previous post-war efforts to rebuild countries including Bosnia, Lebanon and Sierra Leone.

The study, carried out by Tiri, the London-based governance campaign group, and the Lebanese chapter of Transparency International, has found that such reconstruction is viewed by much of the international community as a "state of exception" in which the normal rule of business conduct do not apply. The need to spend funds pledged for rebuilding makes it acceptable to bend the rules, award contracts without competitive tender and turn a blind-eye to profiteering and conflicts of interest.

The authors are particularly critical of donors' tendency to use large western contractors to repair infrastructure damaged in the war, importing foreign personnel and equipment at a huge cost. In Iraq, that policy has proved disastrous, one of the authors said in an interview.

"I don't believe there is anybody in Iraq that has the slightest confidence in the foreign contractors," said Jeremy Carver, chairman of Tiri and co-chairman of the UK International Rescue Committee. "The foreign contractors have actually done very little work. They've just surrounded themselves with bodyguards. The people that have made money in Iraq are the security companies."

Mr Carver, who as head of international law at Clifford Chance, was a frequent visitor to the region, said: "The ordinary Iraqi - even if they were passionately against Saddam and delighted to see him go - feel that there's nothing left for them after 18 months of occupation. The Americans have brought them, precisely, nothing."

The damning report follows growing criticism - both official and unofficial - of efforts to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan. The UK's Christian Aid and George Soros' Iraqi Revenuewatch have said that billions of dollars in Iraq oil revenues have been spent on reconstruction with few discernible results.

A UN watchdog, the International Advisory and Monitoring Board, and the Coalition Provisional Authority's own inspector general have also sharply criticised the former occupation authority's handling of Iraqi oil funds for reconstruction projects.

Former CPA officials have argued that the general chaos and the urgent needs of the Iraqi people often forced them to take quick action and circumvent procedures to get things done. But the report says the strongest safeguard against waste, fraud and corruption is for international donors to reject the notion of a "state of exception" and to expect normal rules to be observed.





This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.