Organized crime and illicit economies have a profound impact on urban governance and the security of the increasing share of the global population living in cities. The Global Initiative’s Cities and Illicit Economies research stream examines urban vulnerabilities to illicit economies and how they exacerbate risks in urban areas. It focuses on the violent actors, the politics, and the evolving policy choices related to organized crime and illicit economies in cities.

  • Armed groups and urban governance: Our research explores the interface between non-state armed groups, governance, and control of urban spaces. It studies strategies by gangs, mafias, militias, and self-defence vigilantes to extract extortion and taxes from urban communities and urban land, with important implications for human security, development, and democracy.
  • Urbanisation and illicit economies: this research focuses on the impact of rapid urbanisation on developing and fragile countries. It responds to an urgent challenge facing developing and – especially – fragile and conflict-affected countries: the rapid growth of urban populations and the emergence of new towns unprepared to cope with criminal threats and illicit economies.

The Cities & Illicit Economies research publishes reports focusing both on individual cities and on cross-cutting challenges affecting urban governance and security.

The Thematic Lead is Antônio Sampaio.



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