Organised crime presents a manifold threat to sustainable development. This is recognised by theSustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2063.  However, policy statements fail to translate to the implementation framework in a systematic way, and tend to focus on the fight against organised crime at the sectoral level.

Development actors need to understand not only how organised crime will undermine their objectives, but also that development itself presents opportunities for organised crime to flourish.

In considering the likely trajectory of SDG achievement, it becomes beneficial to examine how different states, regions and continents may use the SDG framework to mobilise their development strategies. In the context of Africa, the clearest statements of intent can be found in Africa’s development Agenda 2063, which was adopted by the African Union (AU) in a process conducted in parallel to the SDGs in 2015. Both of these frameworks refer to themselves as aspirational, setting broad-reaching, comprehensive and ambitious targets. Both frameworks also acknowledge the interdependence between development and security, noting that one cannot be achieved without the other.

As Africa focuses on stimulating economic growth, investment and infrastructure, the danger is that development goals will be subverted. Development actors need to both crime-proof existing interventions and ensure future investments are crime sensitive.

This report surveys the range of development impacts of organised crime in Africa, considers the statements of development priorities expressed by African states both within the SDG framework, but also through the African Union Agenda 2063.  It then considers the relevant policy implications.

Key findings

  • Organised crime threatens all aspects of the continent’s sustainable development.
  • Too much of the response to organised crime is crafted as policies to counter specific illicit markets rather than examining the issue and its impacts holistically.
  • The illicit economy can also be a source of livelihoods and a resilience strategy for the poor and vulnerable. There is thus a development paradox at play.
  • Both the SDGs and Agenda 2063 emphasise economic stimulus and investment through public–private partnerships. However, organised crime reinforces negative governance patterns that create an unhealthy alliance between crime, government and business.
  • Development itself comes with organised crime risks, which can facilitate the growth of illicit markets.
  • If SDG goals are to be achieved, development must be crime-sensitive and crime-proof.

Organised crime as a cross-cutting threat to SDG achievement

Organised Crime and the SDGs in Africa, 2018

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Policy Brief, 2018

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Tuesday Reitano

Tuesday Reitano is Deputy Director at the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime and a senior research advisor at the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, where she leads the ENACT programme on behalf of the GI. Tuesday was formerly the director of CT MORSE, an independent policy and monitoring unit for the EU’s programmes in counter-terrorism, and for 12 years was a policy specialist in the UN System, including with the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Development Group (UNDG) and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). In this time, she has amassed a wealth of experience in fragile states and development working both with states, civil society and at the community level to strengthen resilience to transnational threats, promote sustainable development and the rule of law. Tuesday has authored a number of policy orientated and academic reports with leading institutions such as the UN, World Bank and OECD on topics ranging from organized crime’s evolution and impact in Africa, on human smuggling, illicit financial flows, and the nexus between crime, terrorism, security and development. Tuesday is the lead author of a forthcoming OECD flagship publication: Illicit Financial Flows: Criminal Economies in West Africa, co-author of Migrant, Refugee; Smuggler, Saviour, a book published in 2016 by Hurst on the role of smugglers in Europe’s migration crisis, and the editor of Militarised Responses to Organised Crime: War on Crime, published by Palgrave in 2017. She holds three Masters Degrees in Business Administration (MBA), Public Administration (MPA) and an MSc in Security, Conflict and International Development (MSc). Tuesday is based in Geneva, Switzerland, with her family.

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Marcena Hunter

Marcena is a Senior Analyst at the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, which she has been with since 2012. Marcena provides research for a number of Global Initiatives projects, analysing a diverse range of organized crime flows, including illicit financial flows, and developing responses. While her work covers a wide scope of material and geographic spread, her current work has focused on gold-related crime and development responses to organized crime. Marcena previously worked with STATT, a boutique global consulting firm, where she analysed migration flows and guided security sector and criminal justice reform. Her past work also includes projects improving access to justice, analysing gender issues, and supporting the Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking at the UNODC. Marcena has a JD from Washington and Lee University, and a BA in Political Science from the University of Denver. She is currently based in Queensland, Australia.

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