From peace operations to how to better manage forests and food supply chains, the United Nations (UN) is engaged in the fight against organized crime and efforts to mitigate its impact within the ambit of the UN’s wider goals: peace and security, human rights and sustainable development.


Mandates relating to key crime types are often allocated to one or more agencies or departments across the UN System, but, as always, mandates evolve, and information about these mandates and the relevant programmes and activities carried out by agencies can be fragmented, scattered and duplicatory. For some emerging or resurging forms of crime, mandates allocated decades ago have required a far more comprehensive set of responses in their contemporary forms.

To better understand the UN’s overall mandate for addressing organized crime, the Global Initiative conducted a desk review of the UN’s entities and agencies to identify their mandates and working agendas for organized crime, specifically in relation to the UN’s work on six crime types that have had major impacts on broader UN goals, including the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This paper is a companion piece to an interactive online tool, which displays the organized-crime agendas within the UN System. The tool’s purpose is to provide a better understanding of the UN’s counter-crime work and serve as a basis for discussion about how organized crime challenges, which are now far-reaching and serious, could be more effectively met and how UN System resources can be used more coherently.

The UN System-Wide Response to Organized Crime

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Authors

Summer Walker

Summer Walker is the Global Initiative’s New York Representative, as well as a Senior Analyst. In her role, she engages with the United Nations community and government missions to bring the research, analysis and innovative approaches of GI and its Network of Experts to multilateral policy debates. Ms. Walker focuses on global criminal justice agendas and produces relevant policy briefs and commentary pieces on issues ranging from drug policy to cybercrime. As a research consultant, she has worked in New York and Berlin for international NGOs, foundations, development agencies and research institutes. During 2015-2016, she directed a drug policy project at United Nations University in New York leading up to the 2016 UN General Assembly special session on the world drug problem. Ms. Walker’s wider background is in human rights and development, and she explores the impacts of organized crime and associated responses in these areas. Ms. Walker holds an MSc in Human Rights from the London School of Economics and a BA in Peace and Conflict Studies from Colgate University.

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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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