The phenomenon of organized crime manifests itself in many aspects and activities among others drug trafficking, human trafficking, smuggling of migrants, trafficking in arms and money laundering. Criminal actors have evolved to be professional criminal networks, elastic in its form and with the ability to move quickly, transform and be ruled from different locations. Communication and technology have facilitated the rapid change and adaptability of criminal networks.
Regional cooperation and integration since the end of World War II have been used as an instrument to combat intra-state conflict. The consequences of regional cooperation and integration are, however, not only positive. A common market for commodities is a frequent form of regional cooperation. The countries involved gain economically by avoiding tariffs on imported products and an increase easier access to exporting commodities. This, however, opens up the market to illegal commodities as well. Drugs, arms and illegal immigrants can more easily be transported and trafficked within open borders. This again increases the potential of the market for illegal substances and the use of several and complex systems of criminal actors.
Several international conventions are agreed upon within the framework of the United Nations with the aim of combating organized crime. Adhering to such instruments, however, requires in-depth understanding of complex legal issues, as well as political will and capacity. The following UN conventions are key instruments to combat organized crime and criminal violence:
- United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols on trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling: http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/treaties/CTOC/index.html
- United Nations Convention against Corruption: http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/treaties/CAC/index.html
- UN Conventions and protocols against terrorism can be found here: http://www.un.org/terrorism/instruments.shtml
Organized criminal activity is often used as a base for funding of illegal insurgent groups and criminal violence. Not only does it pose a significant threat to the state and regional authorities, but a severe challenge to individual security. Thousands of men, women and children, become victims of human trafficking every year. Corruption undermines democratic institutions, slows economic development and contributes to governmental instability. Trafficking in drugs, firearms and other valuables creates an economy for insurgents and enhances organized crime. Terrorism kills and harms innocent victims in every attack committed. Organized crime and criminal violence pose a major threat to Human Security worldwide.