By Ivan Briscoe and Elisa Dari for CRU. Transnational organized crime has boomed in some of the poorest and most fragile countries in the world, prompting the international community into renewed efforts to devise a response. So far, however, the results have not been impressive. Murder rates remain stubbornly high along the cocaine highways of Central America, West African crime expands unabated, and in Central Asia, the trade route for heroin from Afghanistan remains under the control of armed
groups and opaque political interests.
This brief seeks to explain the fundamental errors and misconceptions which ensure that the fight against global crime, while scoring ever more arrests and interdictions, has failed to make headway against trafficking through fragile states. Although progress has been made in understanding how security and justice systems work, Western donors still need to confront the endemic weaknesses of institution-building, the extraordinary allure of the global criminal economy, and the ways that politicians and business systematically collude with traffickers. The brief concludes by listing a series of new policy areas that could underpin a new approach. Above all, these emphasize reducing the receptivity of fragile states to criminal enterprise, staunching violence, and ensuring the gradual build-up of trust, probity and clean business.