The problem of organized crime is not new, the scope, scale and spread of the phenomena is unprecedented – affecting all countries, development, middle-income and developing, as well as states beset by political instability and conflict. The impacts can be diverse, but the common feature is that organized crime negatively affects the life chances of ordinary people: it undercuts key institutions, damages the environment, distorts or impedes economic growth and it fuels conflict.
While there is growing consensus as to the rapid evolution and detrimental impact of organized crime, there is much less agreement around what constitutes an effective response.
The Global Initiative was born from a series of high-level, off the record discussions between mainly (though not exclusively) law enforcement officials from both developed and developing countries, hosted by the International Peace Institute in New York in 2011-12. At these meetings, the founding members of the Global Initiative, many of whom stand at the front line of the fight against organized crime, illicit trafficking and trade, concluded that the problem and its impacts are not well analyzed; they are not systematically integrated into national plans or strategies; existing multilateral tools are not structured to facilitate a response and existing forms of cooperation tend to be bilateral, slow and restricted to a limited number of like-minded states.
The result was a decision to create a new initiative: the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime, which would seek to provide a platform to promote greater debate and innovative approaches as the building blocks to an inclusive global strategy against organized crime.
Launched formally in New York in September 2013, the Global Initiative comprises a network of close to 100 independent global and regional experts working on human rights, democracy, governance and development issues where organized crime has become increasingly pertinent.
The Global Initiative, now registered as an international civil society organization, has an office in Geneva, Switzerland, a core Secretariat and a high-level advisory board. Through a range of channels, the Global Initiative seeks to project the expertise of its Network members outwards and to make it available to a broader range of stakeholders:
Priorities for 2016 include:
Law enforcement agencies around the globe will tell you that one of the best ways to hit the criminal is in his pocket. Taking away his money is more of a threat than sending him to jail. But only a tiny proportion of the "dirty money" in the financial system is ever interdicted.
For every global, regional or national risk, from the geo-political to the technological, there is potential for the creation and/or exacerbation of financial crime. Recognising the connectivity between, and the convergence of, such risks remains a crucial factor in the mitigation of such crime.
2015 will be the tipping point: if current poaching rates continue, wild rhinos could be wiped out a decade later.
We need to increase our pace and momentum or we will see the extinction of wildlife, environmental destruction and more human suffering.
Despite all we have done in fighting against organized environmental crime, why are we not more successful? Some of the reasons include a lack of co-operation, weak law enforcement, weak political engagement and corruption.
If we win the war against environmental crime and discover that we’ve taken so long that there are no tigers left, then that will be a hollow victory.
You may have organized crime without terrorism but these days you can’t have terrorism without organized crime.
We see that it is not only politicians that are being corrupted, but gangsters who are becoming politicians.
We need to recognize that this kind of criminalized non-state governance of fragile communities is only going to become a more frequent characteristic of the global landscape.
Penetration of political processes by transnational organized crime is one of the biggest threats to democracy today.