IPI HomeEventsPanel DiscussionsUnderstanding Organized Crime

 

print print  |  share share back back

Panel Discussions - Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Understanding Organized Crime

On June 26, which is UN International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, IPI Vienna officially launched a new publication entitled, "Spotting the Spoilers: A Guide to Analyzing Organized Crime in Fragile States."

The publication, by Mark Shaw (of STATT Consulting) and Walter Kemp (IPI’s Director for Europe and Central Asia), is designed to help practitioners to analyze the nature of organized crime, particularly in fragile states. It is part of IPI’s “Peace without Crime” project which is funded by Norway and Switzerland.

Organized crime is a threat in almost every theater where the UN has peace operations, and several where it does not. “Policy makers now realize that there is a threat posed by organized crime, but they are less sure what to do about it,” said Mr. Kemp. “If we do not understand the nature of this threat and the conditions in which it thrives, we will not be able to tackle it–indeed, we may exacerbate it,” he said.

The publication looks at types of organized crime and how to identify criminal groups and activities. It also looks at the impacts of crime, for example in relation to political and structural, economic, physical, social and environmental harm. “There may be occasions when organized crime is actually beneficial to some actors, for example when they provide security or social resources–this needs to be understood,” said Mr. Shaw. “However, in the long run, the impact of organized crime is always negative.”

Reference was made to a recent article by Moises Naim in Foreign Affairs where he concludes that, “Devoting public money to reducing the power of criminal networks and mafia states will be useless or counterproductive unless the funds pay for policies grounded in a robust knowledge... The analytical frameworks that governments are currently applying are primitive and based on an outdated understanding of organized crime.”

Jan Petersen, Norway’s Ambassador to Austria and Permanent Representative to the United Nations at Vienna, underlined the need for raising more attention among political leaders about the dangers of organized crime. He expressed his hope that the IPI project could stimulate this process, particularly within the UN. Since March 2011, the UN has had a System Task Force on Transnational Organized Crime and Drug Trafficking.

Ambassador Thomas Greminger, Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the OSCE, UN, and the international organizations in Vienna, underlined the need for “mainstreaming” the issue of tackling organized crime at the national, regional and international levels. He also highlighted the challenge of engaging the development community in reducing vulnerability to crime. It is worth noting that on the same day, the UN General Assembly was holding a thematic debate on “Drugs and Crime as a Threat to Development.”

In the discussion, the point was made that it is not enough to identify problems–it is essential to work towards solutions. The importance of including crime-fighting in mission mandates was also raised.

The question was asked as to what should be done with the information compiled in the threat assessment. For example, what if the assessment shows that your interlocutors are involved in illicit activity? This and other complex issues related to organized crime will be tackled in the final Peace without Crime report due out at the end of this year.

The Global Observatory

History Points to Rough Road Ahead for Ukraine Peace Deal
Previous deals can help shed light on the future of Minsk II.

Key Global Events to Watch in February
A list of key upcoming meetings and events with implications for global affairs.

2015: Ten Multilateral Events to Watch This Year
A list of ten events that are likely to impact international peace and security in 2015, compiled by IPI’s Francesco Mancini.

The Global Observatory, produced by IPI, provides timely analysis on peace and security issues, interviews with leading policymakers, interactive maps, and more.

Recent Events

February 26, 2015
ICM Briefs African Regional Group
On February 26th, Chair Kevin Rudd and Secretary-General Hardeep Puri briefed delegates from the UN’s African Group about the ICM and its work. This was the last of a series of briefings which the Commission held during the month of February to inform UN regional groups about its vision for an effective multilateral system.

February 24, 2015
Quantifying Peace
“Peace can and should be quantified,“ said Steve Killelea, Founder and Executive Chairman of the Institute for Economics and Peace while speaking at IPI’s Vienna office on January 24. Mr. Killelea stressed the need for focusing on positive peace rather than just the absence of conflict (negative peace), and outlined ways of defining and measuring peacefulness.

February 17, 2015
ICM Briefs UN Delegates from Eastern Europe, Western Europe, and Others
ICM Chair Kevin Rudd and Secretary-General Hardeep Puri briefed delegates from the Eastern European and Western European and Others groups on February 17th and 19th, respectively.

View More