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

We initially analyzed all UNSC resolutions and presidential statements from 2000 to 2017, and coded them for references to any form(s) of organized crime discussed in the resolution. This year, we have updated the material, which now includes a review of the UNSC’s 2018 resolutions.

In our initial research, we found that out of the 1 113 UNSC resolutions passed in the period, 387 resolutions (34.8%) referenced or discussed organized crime in relation to the conflict setting. Of those resolutions, 62.8% concerned a country or region in Africa, a continent not historically associated with organized crime. References to organized crime peaked in 2015, when more than 63.5% of the UNSC resolutions referred to organized crime. These represented a confluence of conflicts in Africa, the Middle East and the Americas, and reflected the preoccupation with the crime–terror nexus dominating the Security Council agenda.

In 2018, we found that 22 of the 54 UNSC resolutions (i.e. 40%) referred to some form of organized crime, further confirming the significant role of organized crime despite a decrease in the absolute number of mentions in 2018. Again, African countries were the centre of attention of more than two-thirds (68%) of resolutions referencing a form of organized crime in 2018.

We created the data visualization 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 for active links back to the original resolutions.

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


Methodology

A team of researchers coded all resolutions from 1 January 2000 to 31 December 2017, totalling 1 113 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. The research has now been updated to include resolutions passed in 2018.

Incidents of organized crime mentioned in UNSC resolutions were broken down by the type of crime. In many cases, resolutions would imply an incident of organized 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 judgement 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 are often not labelled as human trafficking in the resolutions, but are 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 previous 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.

Acknowledgements

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, www.globalinitiative.net/SCResolutions.

The data will be updated on an annual basis.

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