The world is in a state of crisis. Health systems are under strain, businesses and employees are struggling, and ordinary life for many is simply on hold, or going downhill fast. We are yet to see the full extent of the spread of the virus, but restrictions are already bringing life and work to a standstill, as countries desperately try to protect their health systems, economies, and societies, and hopefully prevent some of the worst health outcomes. Meanwhile, as part of the response, governments are gaining new powers to control populations and restrict movement and activity, and heavy-handed responses are already in evidence. The short-term impacts
are severe and deadly, but the long-term impacts are unknowable, but will be unprecedented, if not seismic. This crisis exposes the fragility of the current globalized order and poses fundamental questions about the way we live, work and travel. It is becoming increasingly clear that this will not be over quickly, and that we will not just return to business as usual when it is ‘over’.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres refers to ‘a global health crisis unlike any in the 75-year history of the United Nations’, adding: ‘We are in an unprecedented situation and the normal rules no longer apply. We cannot resort to the usual tools in such unusual times.’

And as the international community responds, it will have to innovate to find new ways to undermine the illicit markets and criminal actors that take advantage of crises like these to increase their power and exploit the vulnerable. We recently outlined our initial findings on the impacts of COVID-19 on organized crime, the difficulties and vulnerabilities associated with it, and what governments can do to respond to these unique and unprecedented challenges.

Detour on the Road to Kyoto: Making the UN Crime Congress relevant under the shadow of Covid-19

Download PDF
Share this article


Ian Tennant

Ian joined the Global Initiative in 2019 as the Fund Manager for the Civil Society Resilience Fund. He is based in Vienna, having previously worked at the UK Permanent Mission to the UN in Vienna. During his five years at the UK Mission Ian led UK engagement with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and represented the UK in several prominent UN negotiations on organised crime and related issues, including the UN General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS 2016), and the UNTOC Conference of Parties which established its Review Mechanism in 2018. Prior to joining the UK Mission Ian worked in the UK Parliament, and in political consultancy and corporate communications. He has an MA in British Politics, and a BA in French and Hispanic Studies.

Read more