What makes countries vulnerable to transnational organised crime?

8 Nov 2011

This report explores in depth the exact nature of the threat posed by transnational organised crime and the conditions that give rise to its growth.

In particular, it asks whether the presence of transnational groups in fragile states is an effect of international conditions – such as the need to supply a particular consumer market – or due to causes that are internal to the country. On this basis, it picks out five key factors that underlie the expansion of this sort of crime. These are:

• the proximity to trafficking routes and destination markets;

• favourable international security conditions;

• extreme institutional fragmentation;

• high levels of inequality; and

• social atomisation.

Above all, the report stresses the importance of the last three domestic vulnerabilities in providing criminal groups with exceptional leverage over state and security actors, businesses, and local populations.

In conclusion, it offers a number of pointers for future policymaking that take into account the grave threat posed by transnational organised crime to stability and development. While this threat is undeniable, it is also true to say that it is the expression of fault lines and vulnerabilities in fragile states that cannot be repaired solely by law enforcement or donor exhortation.

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