Transnational organised crime and fragile states

Paula Miraglia , Mauricio Ochoa Hernandez, Ivan Briscoe

Research output: Book/ReportOther reportpeer-review


Transnational organised crime (TOC) has recently developed in ways that place it at the top of the international agenda. Advances in technology and communications as well as in the global political economy have brought about significant changes in the way TOC behaves and operates. TOC is established in many countries around the world irrespective of their levels of development. It is a fluid and diversified industry that engages in a host of illicit activities, including drug trafficking, human trafficking, piracy and counterfeiting. Although it may affect strong states, it is above all conflict-affected or otherwise weakened states that are vulnerable to TOC predations and may serve as bases for international criminal enterprises. The World Bank’s World Development Report 2011 expresses great concern about the impact of TOC on economic development (World Bank, 2011).
Global criminal markets pose certain threats to the stability of nation states, even strong states. This is even more evident in fragile or conflict-affected states. Research shows that one of the most important impacts of TOC on a state is the harm it does to the quality of its governance (van Dijk, 2007). The same author states that by corrupting and otherwise compromising the integrity of public officials and institutions through corruption and threat, organised crime erodes the state’s long term capacity to provide for the common good. The capacity to deliver public goods is a key element in a state’s levels of fragility. A state that is affected by pervasive corruption faces a loss of legitimacy that can endanger its ability to remain in power (Varese, 2000; West, 2006). TOC can infiltrate the structural composition of states, feeding on weaknesses and eventually heightening fragility. Organised crime has thus been established as one cause for state failure, although there is some discussion as to whether TOC is a cause or effect of state fragility and ultimately conflict.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherOragnisation for Economic Cooperation and Development
Number of pages34
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameGlobal Factors Influencing the Risk of Conflict and Fragility


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