2023: A Year in Review | Countering Kleptocracy

Understanding transnational kleptocracy as a vehicle for theft, repression, and democratic erosion…and how we can respond. If you enjoy this newsletter, forward it to a friend or share on social media so that others can subscribe.


A Year in Review // December 20

As 2023 draws to a close, the team at the International Forum for Democratic Studies is reflecting on how the global kleptocratic landscape has evolved over the past year.

This year, the Forum and research partners around the world produced cutting-edge analysis on transnational kleptocracy and its corrosive impact on democratic institutions, amid Russia’s protracted invasion of Ukraine, burgeoning cooperation between kleptocratic state actors, and much more.

Kleptocratic Adaptation: Anticipating the Next Stage in the Battle Against Transnational Kleptocracy

Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine in 2022 spurred a renewed commitment by democracies to fight transnational kleptocracy. In turn, kleptocrats adapted to evade rule-of-law measures. For more on kleptocratic adaptation, read the Forum’s report by Matthew T. Page and Jodi Vittori or watch the virtual report launch featuring the authors and Larry Diamond.


Kleptocratic Cooperation in Africa: How Russia and China Undermine Democracy

How are authoritarian powers cooperating to prop up kleptocratic institutions and embolden malign actors across Africa? Don’t miss Andrea Ngombet and J.R. Mailey’s report on Chinese and Russian kleptocratic influence on the continent or watch the virtual report launch featuring the authors and Jodi Vittori.


After Wagner: Russia’s Export of Kleptocracy to Africa

The death of Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin called into question the future of the Moscow-linked organization’s activities in Africa. Check out our Power 3.0 blog post on this topic (or read J.R. Mailey’s report for more in-depth analysis).


Kleptocratic Networks in Angola: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back?

Don’t miss the Forum’s conversation with Rafael Marques about the nature of kleptocratic networks in Angola. For this and more, check out the Power 3.0 podcast.


To Catch a Kleptocrat: Lessons Learned from the Biens Mal Acquis Trial in France

Comment est-ce qu’on attrape un kleptocrate? How do you catch a kleptocrat? Tutu Alicante explains how the “Biens Mal Acquis” trial serves as a model for combatting kleptocrats through strategic litigation. Read more from the Forum’s 2019 report, available in English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish!


The Rise of Kleptocracy

How did kleptocracy emerge as such a crucial threat to democracy? According to NED’s Melissa Aten and Christopher Walker, corrupt actors exploit the global institutions to launder their ill-gotten gains overseas, comprising a new phase of financial corruption, or “kleptocracy 2.0.” Read the Journal of Democracy’s January 2018 edition for insights on the rise of kleptocracy, with essays from Brett Carter, Oliver Bullough, and many more.


“The world now confronts ‘kleptocracy 2.0,’ a multifaceted threat to democracy that requires a coordinated and sophisticated transnational response.”Melissa Aten and Christopher Walker, “The Rise of Kleptocracy: A Challenge for Democracy

Image Credit: Jo Panuwat D/Shutterstock

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