War is a hospitable host for criminality. The reasons for this are numerous. Weak rule of law, political instability, economic insecurity and the need for illicit means of conflict financing all rank, among others, as the reasons why this may be the case.
However, the relationship between conflict and organised crime remains under-researched and conceptually under-developed. Crime should not solely be viewed as a by-product of conflict, but also as capable of producing and sustaining conflict. Adopting a human security lens can help us to appreciate how organised crime can increase instability and degrade the capacity of the state and communities to prevent or resolve conflict. In turn, criminality is a hospitable host for war.
Peacekeeping and other military forces must therefore build the dynamics stemming from organised crime into their analysis, planning, training and operations. Reactive, short-term missions that seek to combat criminality as it manifests will be insufficient, and in some cases, counterproductive. The root causes must be addressed, and of course this must be done by an array of actors working together – requiring responses that will often go hand-in-hand with addressing the root causes of the conflict.
Within this video, originally presented to post-graduate criminology students at the University of Manchester, we discuss the contexts and dynamics of organised crime within conflict-settings. It takes place as part of Trilateral Research’s wider work on human security.
For more information on this research area, contact our team.