Security Council Resolution 2195 (2014), Threats to international peace and security, called upon states to better understand and address the nexus between organized crime and terrorism as a threat to security and development. This resolution comes as the culmination of 15 years of consideration by the UN the General Assembly and the Security Council on the interaction of terrorism and cross-border crime and its impact on international peace and security.
In practical terms, however, there are a number of challenges in understanding the ‘nexus’ between organised crime and terrorism, that start initially from defining these concepts, both in theory and in practice. There is no universally agreed definition of organised crime or of terrorism, which means that there is no definitive means by which to identify their convergences and divergences.
Security Council Resolution 2195 identified a nexus in which criminal networks and terrorist groups meet, and their objectives, identities and modus operandi overlap. In many theatres, these lines are becoming blurred, particularly in the cases of protracted sectarian or separatist conflicts, and the standard definitions used by policy makers to gauge responses are being challenged. Terrorists are benefitting from transnational organized crime in some regions, including from the trafficking of arms, persons, drugs, and artefacts and from the illicit trade in natural resources including gold and other precious metals and stones, minerals, wildlife, charcoal and oil, as well as from kidnapping for ransom and other crimes including extortion and bank robbery. Furthermore, terrorist groups benefiting from transnational organized crime may contribute to undermining affected States, specifically their security, stability, governance, social and economic development.
But the analysis tends to focus on operational links, which perhaps belies a more nuanced understanding of the importance and legitimacy that groups have within their communities of influence. The goal of the Global Initiative’s Nexus project is to broaden and elucidate the granular association between organised crime and terrorism in specific contexts; to understand its implications and impact, and to move towards effective solutions to break down the Nexus and mitigate its most damaging harms.