The Crime-Conflict Nexus: Assessing the Threat and Developing Solutions

Changing Nature of Conflict | May 16, 2017 |

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UN Photo/Tobin Jones
UN Photo/Tobin Jones

A project of the

United Nations University Centre for Policy Research

with support from

the UK Department for International Development

This post is a summary of a synopsis report published as part of UNU-CPR’s Crime-Conflict Nexus Series

Organised crime has emerged as a major factor that can exacerbate violence, complicate peace negotiations and corrupt transitions from war to peace. Illicit networks span continents, yet they often thrive in fragile and conflict affected states by taking advantage of illicit opportunities to entrench their economic, political and social influence through corruption, rent-seeking, predation and criminal gover­nance.

Notwithstanding the increasing threat posed by organised crime, international organizations and bilateral agencies remain ill-equipped to handle this challenge. Analytical capacities within governments and institutions such as the United Nations are weak. Operational tools are often inadequate and there is an insufficient understanding of what works and what doesn’t to reduce the growing impact of organised crime on international peace and security.

To address this gap, the UN University Centre for Policy Research undertook a 12-month policy oriented research project seeking to improve the international response in situations where crime and conflict intersected.  The objective was to draw lessons from a series of case studies and identify recommendations for international actors to limit the impact of organised crime on conflict, peace negotiations, and political transitions.

A comprehensive review of the literature led the team to focus on three lines of inquiry where the evidence base was deemed to be particularly weak; where the impact of organised crime was apparent; and where external actors could make a difference. Under each line of inquiry listed below, several thematic and case study reports were produced to assess the:

  1. Impact of global illicit flows on local conflict dynamics:
  1. Impact of criminal agendas on traditional and non-traditional peace negotiations (i.e. gang truces):
  1. Impact of political-criminal alliances in contexts of transitions:

This material has been funded by UK aid from the UK government; however the views expressed do not necessarily reflect the UK government’s official policies.

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