The UN Security Council (UNSC) is increasingly concerned with the detrimental role that organised crime, illicit flows, markets and criminal actors are playing in zones of conflict.  This is the clear finding of a new research tool that the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime has created.

We have analysed all UNSC resolutions and presidential statements from 2000 – 2017, and coded for references to any form(s) of organized crime discussed in the resolution.

We found that out of the total 1113 UNSC resolutions passed in the period, 387 resolutions (34.8%) referenced or discussed organized crime in relations to the conflict setting. Of those resolutions, 62.8% concerned a country or region in Africa, a region not typically associated with organized crime. Mentions peaked in 2015, when more than 63.5% of the total SC resolutions referred to organized crime.  They represented a confluence of conflicts in Africa, the Middle East and the Americas, as well as a preoccupation with the crime-terror nexus dominated the Security Council agenda.

We created the data visualisation below to allow you to explore our data yourselves.  Search by region, country, or crime type, or the intersection between them. Click on the bars themselves for active links back to the original resolutions.

Charting Organized Crime and Illicit Flows at the Security Council: An Interactive Tool


A team of research assistants coded all resolutions from 1 January 2000 – 31 December 2017, totalling 1113 resolutions. All resolutions passed by the UNSC since 1946 can be found by clicking here. Resolutions from before the year 2000 were not used in this study.

Incidents of organised crime mentioned in UNSC resolutions were broken down by the type of organized crime. In many cases resolutions would imply an incident of organised crime, such as human trafficking, but not explicitly label the incident as such. In recognition that these omissions are often the result of political influence and that the acknowledgement of crime carries significant implications, researchers made an informed judgment call on whether to include certain incidents based on the wording in the resolution, and on its applicability to the current UN definition of the crime type (as of 2017). For example, the recruitment and use of child soldiers is often not labelled as human trafficking in the resolutions, but it is labelled as such in this interactive tool. To locate these incidents of organized crime, search terms were used to thoroughly scan each resolution.

UNSC resolutions often begin by referencing relevant past resolutions. In these instances, the content of the referenced resolutions was not included as part of the resolution under consideration. For example, if a resolution in 2017 referenced a resolution from 2005 that affirmed the UN’s position on human rights, and the resolution from 2005 mentioned human trafficking, the mention of human trafficking was recorded in 2005 and not as part of the resolution in 2017. This was done to avoid duplication in the dataset.


This data visualisation was created by a team from the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime, lead by Tuesday Reitano and Mark Shaw.  Data was collected and coded by Kristen Olver and Alexandre Bish.  The application was designed by Original Content London.

We encourage you to use our tool for analysis and visualisation, and feel free to share it widely.  You can also download the original source data.  

We do, however, appreciate a citation or acknowledgement, as the following:

Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, 2018, Organized Crime and Illicit Flows at the Security Council,

The data will be updated on an annual basis.

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