‘Spoiler Alert’: Recovery from kleptocracy


The Belgian government this week honored civil society activist Rafael Marques de Morais for his work in combatting endemic corruption in Angola.

The founder of Maka Angola and former Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy said he was honored to accept the award “as a form of solidarity with civil society.”

A prominent journalist, Marques has also been recognized as the International Press Institute (IPI)’s 70th World Press Freedom Hero.

In a recent episode of the International Forum’s Power 3.0 Podcast, Marques analyzes the state of kleptocracy in Angola, Portugal’s role in facilitating and enabling kleptocracy in the country, and the Angolan government’s unrelenting attempts to silence courageous activists working to bring about democratic change LISTEN HERE

On 7 February Marques will present new information about China’s malign influence at a Washington forum on The Corrupting Influence of Chinese Development Aid in Angola hosted by the Hudson Institute and International Republican Institute.

The new Chinese foreign minister’s first foreign trip was to Angola, where he offered a package to build a high-speed telecoms infrastructure, which Huawei will most likely construct, Hudson adds. The history of Chinese aid to Angola is rife with corrupting effects involving billions of dollars in diverted oil sector funds and implicating the highest levels of government.

TUESDAY 3:00 – 4:00PM
FEATURED SPEAKERS: Rafael Marques de Morais; Jenai Cox; Nate Sibley. MODERATOR: Thomas J. Duesterberg.

Years of inaction against corruption have allowed kleptocrats to take control, undermined democratic processes, restricted civic space, and weakened public institutions, fueling violence, conflict and instability in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, where corruption scores reached historic lows, according to Transparency International’s 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI).

The CPI also showed that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was the “most violent result of unchecked corruption and kleptocracy” in all of 2022, said Altynai Myrzabekova, Eastern Europe and Central Asia regional adviser for Transparency International.

But the risk with such league tables is, as Coda journalist Oliver Bullough puts it, that you end up calling “poor countries who are looted by kleptocrats corrupt,” while rating highly “the rich countries that host the kleptocrats’ money.”

Positions in the rankings are based on surveys of “experts and business executives,” and the second problem is that there are serious questions about what is perceived as ‘corruption’ and what is just treated as normal business or politics.

Recovery from kleptocratic rule is more frequently the exception than the rule, the National Democratic Institute observes. Even in contexts where incoming leaders demonstrate political will for pro-integrity reform, numerous country experiences give testament to the deeply embedded nature of corrupt networks, structures and practices.

The Spoiler Alert assessment framework is intended for use by reformers, researchers or practitioners to identify and assess the lingering or reconfiguring kleptocratic networks that might undermine the anti-corruption reform agenda. Recognizing that reformist leaders face myriad challenges, the framework also emphasizes the selection of specific ‘strategic variables’ that might produce an outsized impact in the struggle to dismantle kleptocratic networks.

Please join the National Democratic Institute for the launch of Spoiler Alert: A Framework for Analyzing the Remnants of Toppled Kleptocracies and the Forces of Reform with author Sarah Chayes and discussants Veronica Draglin, Dr. Suliman Baldo and Bridget Millman.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

9:00 AM – 10:00 AM ET

(View the start time in your location)

This event will be held virtually. RSVP to receive the registration link.


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