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The issue of organized crime and illicit trafficking is increasingly of concern for development agencies at two levels; one relates to organized crime as contextual issue and how it affects and undermines development efforts and the other focuses on how development cooperation may assist in counteracting organized crime at the programmatic level.

While the issue still remains outside of mainstream development cooperation, there is a common understanding emerging among several development partners of the importance of the issue and they have begun internal processes to discuss how a more effective response could be determined. To date, this response has included:

  • the commissioning of research,
  • efforts to insert organised crime awareness into contextual and political economy analysis as part of development programming,
  • pilot projects and programmes as part the development response.

The effort to raise awareness on organised crime has in some cases involved the appointment of individual focal points responsible for the topic, in others it has taken a more whole of government approach, including the creation of inter-departmental working groups, internal government discussions to consider the way ahead and the sharing of work between different departments, embassies and programme management.

Against this backdrop, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime convened a one-day discussion with key interlocutors in the development community. The purpose of the meeting was to provide space for an initial discussion amongst development actors on how they should specifically engage with the issue of state fragility, development and organized crime in a more systematic way.

The discussions were deliberately free-ranging, seeking to identify both the evolution of the issue from the perspective of development practitioners and to begin to identify appropriate responses. The meeting is the first step towards a broader discussion amongst a wider group of stakeholders from the development community and associated interest groups engaged in rule of law and security sector reform, and with civil society.

A follow-up meeting will be in held in April 2014.   A record of the January meeting, including the conclusions reached, is available here:

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