What to do about organized crime? PDF Print E-mail
The shaping of policy at UNODC (2002-2010)

There is a growing focus on, and concern about, organized crime: in public opinion, the media, and among policymakers. I have addressed the issue lately in a number of speeches, for example at the 2009 Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. 

Have a look at my outline.

1. In the past quarter century, the nature of crime has changed:

  • it has become organized and transnational
  • it has reached macro-economic dimensions;
  • it has turned into a global business operating in collusion with legitimate activity.
  • it has become more than localized violence, causing alarm among citizens, politicians and media alike.

2. Crime has also diversified:

  • from trafficking of drugs, people, arms, or piracy
  • into money-laundering, identity-theft, cyber-crime, and cyber-terrorism.
  • into large scale exploitation of resources, whether underground (mining), on the ground (logging), or above ground (the web)

3. Crime has thus become a security threat.

  • crime has turned into a widespread risk to the stability of cities, states, even entire regions.
  • the UN Security Council has debated the issue of national security threatened by organized crime in a number of countries.
  • around the world organized crime has changed strategic doctrines and threat assessments.
  • some failed regions (zones of impunity because of government loss of control) are most affected by the vicious cycle of instability & crime

4. Why has organized crime reached such magnitude?

  • the result of post-communist transition, and a realignment of the world order?
  • due to globalization, the opening up of borders, the ease of travel and communication, the growing economic integration?
  • because development has aborted in so many regions, w/ mass poverty and unemployment deepening vulnerability to crime?
  • .... all of the above?

5. The problem will worsen because of the economic crisis?

  • greater social distress has historically led to greater (likelihood of) crime;
  • greater demand for cheap goods and services (including those pirated and counterfeited, or those produced by forced labour);
  • greater poverty causing greater vulnerability to smuggling/trafficking in persons;
  • a growing number of hungry, angry and unemployed youth susceptible to joining gangs, crime syndicates, or terrorist groups;
  • greater infiltration of organized crime into the financial system.

6. The response to the growing crime has been robust, but not effective.

  • security forces, armed with war-grade weapons, are patrolling cities and fighting gangs.
  • national armies are being mobilized to fight drug traffickers.
  • navies are chasing pirates and smugglers.
  • fighter jets and satellites are being deployed to stop drug trafficking.
  • ... to no avail.

What to do?


Last Updated on Thursday, 20 January 2011 11:15