IPI HomePublicationsPolicy PapersThe Elephant in the Room: How Can Peace Operations Deal with Organized Crime?

 

print print  |  share share back back

Illustration by Ray Bartkus

Policy Papers - June 03, 2013

The Elephant in the Room: How Can Peace Operations Deal with Organized Crime?

Walter Kemp, Mark Shaw, and Arthur Boutellis

 

 

From Afghanistan to Kosovo, from Mali to Somalia, organized crime threatens peace and security. And yet, of the current 28 UN peacekeeping, peacebuilding or special political missions, less than half have mandates related to organized crime, and those that do are not well-equipped or well-prepared to face this threat.

This new IPI report, by Walter Kemp, Mark Shaw, and Arthur Boutellis, argues peace operations usually treat organized crime like the elephant in the room: impossible to overlook, but too big to deal with. Why is this so? What can be done to rectify the situation? And what can be done when the gamekeepers are actually the poachers; in other words, when senior officials are themselves complicit in illicit activities?

Download the report (4.8 MB)

"The Elephant in the Room" shows how organized crime–once considered a problem isolated to a few, mostly urban, communities–has become globalized and now affects a wide range of the UN’s activities, including the maintenance of international peace and security. It describes how crime has become a serious threat in almost every theater where the UN has peace operations, and juxtaposes this with an analysis of mission mandates which contain few operational references to crime.

Case studies based on field research in Haiti, Guinea-Bissau, and Kosovo show the impact of organized crime on stability, governance, and development and demonstrate the challenges faced by the international community in helping states to deal with this problem.

The report argues that unless peace operations can identify and deal with spoilers involved in illicit activities at an early stage, better assess conflict economies, and disrupt illicit markets, organized crime will continue to flourish in theaters where peace operations are deployed–hindering their operability and the very development, security, and justice that the UN seeks to promote.

The report concludes by making recommendations designed to increase the effectiveness of peace operations when dealing with transnational organized crime. This is the second report in IPI’s Peace without Crime project. The first, by Mark Shaw and Walter Kemp, is "Spotting the Spoilers: A Guide to Analyzing Organized Crime in Fragile States."

The Global Observatory

The Search for Federal Solutions
The continuing spread of conflicts across the Middle East and Africa demonstrates the inadequacy of the centralized-state system and the growing appeal of federal solutions.

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

2014 Top 10 Issues to Watch in Peace & Security: The Global Arena
A list of ten key issues to watch that are likely to impact international peace and security in 2014, 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

July 17, 2014
EU and UN Seek Ways to Improve Cooperation in Peacekeeping
The European Union is among the strongest supporters of UN peacekeeping missions around the globe, but the growing challenges faced by UN-led operations have raised the need for better EU-UN cooperation, both on the ground and at the planning level.

July 07, 2014
IPI Hosts African Junior Fellows
The sixth annual African Junior Professionals Fellowship Program at IPI brought ten African scholars to New York for a month-long familiarization with the United Nations and the related think tank community, from July 7-31 2014.

July 01, 2014
SRSG Johnson: South Sudan Crisis Changed UNMISS “Mindset”
Hilde Johnson, the outgoing Head of the UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS), gave an overflow IPI audience a dramatic account of the challenging situation that has faced the United Nations in the country since the eruption of mass violence at the end of last year.

View More