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Comparing peer-based anti-corruption missions in Kosovo and Guatemala

International missions brought foreign experts to help local partners tackle corruption and organised crime in Kosovo and Guatemala. With unprecedented investigative powers, those efforts sought to disrupt criminal networks and use peer-based learning to build local capacity. While the UN effort in Guatemala won major convictions and public acclaim, the EU effort in Kosovo fell short. Divergences in their context, structure, strategy, and focus hold lessons for peer-to-peer interventions worldwide.

28 May 2019
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Comparing peer-based anti-corruption missions in Kosovo and Guatemala

Main points

  • Kosovo and Guatemala are hindered by hidden corruption networks tied to transnational crime that grew powerful during their respective civil wars.
  • To address those corruption issues, the international community created the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) and the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX), empowering foreign legal experts to augment and assist local authorities.
  • Both missions had dual roles of directly investigating and addressing corruption and organised crime, as well as building local capacity through peer-based learning.
  • CICIG had fewer powers and resources than EULEX, yet faced greater challenges.
  • However, CICIG generally surpassed expectations while EULEX fell short, as indicated by outcomes like high-level convictions, polled public trust, and assessments by scholars and international organisations.
  • This divergence in outcomes can be partly attributed to political, cultural, and legal factors.
  • Strategy and focus mattered. CICIG leaders succeeded when they doggedly pursued the mission of disrupting corruption networks, while EULEX leaders did not when they diverted attention to competing objectives and indefinite projects of state-building.
  • CICIG fostered more peer learning than EULEX because it was structured to encourage collaboration between foreign and local partners on joint investigations and reform efforts. Working with a specialised counterpart office over a dozen years, CICIG built a legacy of institutional knowledge and relationships of trust.

Cite this publication

Kuris, G.; (2019) Comparing peer-based anti-corruption missions in Kosovo and Guatemala. Bergen: U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, Chr. Michelsen Institute (U4 Issue 2019:6)

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About the author

Gabriel Kuris

A writer and lawyer focused on corruption and legal reform, Gabriel Kuris teaches at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City and served as Deputy Director of the Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity at Columbia Law School. He has conducted research in more than twenty countries and his writing has appeared in The New Yorker, the Harvard Review, Policy and Society, and Foreign Policy.


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This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)