Corruption and State Instability in West Africa: An Examination of Policy Options

This paper raises a number of questions on corruption and state instability in West Africa and attempts to answer them: (a) What are the manifestations of corruption in West Africa? (b) Is there a causal relationship between corruption and state instability? (c) To what extent does corruption undermine state stability? (d) And what policy options are available to ECOWAS to address it? In a more specific way, this paper discusses the nexus between corruption and state instability in the West African sub-region and explores the policy options available to ECOWAS in addressing it. The paper argues that anti-corruption measures should be viewed as an important conflict prevention tool, an agenda for the promotion of peace and security in the sub-region. The paper is organized as follows: First, a literature review of the theoretical understanding of corruption. This is followed by an analysis of the level of corruption in the sub-region using Transparency International’s (TI) annual Corruption Perception Index (CPI). The next section is devoted to a discussion on the nexus between corruption and state instability citing examples from the sub-region. This section is followed by an examination of policy options available to ECOWAS for dealing with corruption. Here, emphasis is laid on the ECOWAS Protocol on the Fight against Corruption, especially with regard to its place in the anti corruption architecture of the sub-region. The final section concludes with a call for concrete sub-regional-led anti-corruption policies.