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Global Agencies Call for Action Against Transnational Organized Crime

Context:

Recently, the leaders of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Interpol, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) stressed the urgent need to enhance efforts to combat the substantial illicit profits generated by transnational organized crime (TOC).

Relevance:

GS III: Security Challenges

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Transnational Organised Crime?
  2. Impact of Transnational Organized Crime (TOC)
  3. Challenges Regarding Controlling TOC

What is Transnational Organised Crime?

Definition

  • Organised Crime: Illegal activities carried out by groups or networks, often involving violence, corruption, or related actions to gain financial or material benefits.
  • Transnational Organised Crime (TOC): Occurs when these activities or groups operate across multiple countries.
Different Forms of TOC

Money Laundering:

  • Conceals the origins of illegally obtained money.
  • Converts proceeds of crime into seemingly legal funds.
  • Globally, money laundering exceeds 2% to 5% of the global GDP, approximately USD 800 billion to USD 2 trillion annually.

Drug Trafficking:

  • The most lucrative business for criminals.
  • Global drug trafficking is worth around USD 650 billion, contributing 30% of the overall illicit economy.

Human Trafficking:

  • Exploitation of men, women, and children for sexual or labor purposes.
  • Generates estimated annual global profits of USD 150 billion.
  • Victimizes approximately 25 million people worldwide (80% forced labor, 20% sex trafficking).
  • In 2009, USD 6.6 billion was generated from the smuggling of 3 million migrants from Latin America to North America.

Arms Trafficking:

  • Illicit trade of small arms, explosives, and ammunition.
  • Generates around USD 170 million to USD 320 million annually.

Trafficking in Natural Resources:

  • Involves the trade of non-renewable resources (minerals, fuels) and renewable resources (wildlife, forestry, fishery).
  • Called “environmental crime” by international organizations.
  • The sale of elephant ivory, rhino horn, and tiger parts in Asia was worth an estimated USD 75 million in 2010.

Fraudulent Medicines:

  • Includes counterfeit medicines and diverted legal medicines.
  • Can result in death or drug resistance instead of curing diseases.

Cybercrime and Identity Theft:

  • Criminals use the internet to steal private data, access bank accounts, and fraudulently obtain payment card details.

Impact of Transnational Organized Crime (TOC)

Health and Safety
  • Counterfeit Medicines: Common in low- and middle-income countries, these can be ineffective or harmful, leading to approximately 1 million deaths globally each year.
  • WHO Estimate: Over 1 million deaths annually due to falsified or substandard medicines, with 200,000 deaths in Africa.
Economic Impact
  • Money Laundering: Undermines financial integrity and state public financing, obstructing economic development.
  • Foreign Exchange Reserves: TOC drains these reserves and affects asset
  • prices, undermining economic stability.
  • Global Offshore Economy: Conceals an estimated 10% of the world’s wealth, including proceeds from organized crime.
Environmental Impact
  • Organized Environmental Crime: Drives deforestation, biodiversity loss, and carbon emissions, contributing to climate change.
  • Synthetic Refrigerants (HFCs): Illicit production and smuggling undermine the Montreal Protocol, exacerbating climate change.
  • Lack of Consensus: On defining and criminalizing environmental crimes enables criminals to evade enforcement.
  • Social and Political Impact
  • Illicit Arms Trade: Fuels armed conflicts, violent crime, and other organized criminal activities.
  • Non-State Armed Groups: Engage in illicit markets, supporting activities like natural resource extraction and smuggling.
  • Organized Crime-Related Violence: Particularly in Central and South America, often exceeds casualties from armed conflicts.
Local Impact
  • Destabilization: TOC can destabilize countries and regions, undermining development assistance.
  • Local Criminal Collaboration: Increases in corruption, extortion, racketeering, and violence, alongside sophisticated crimes.
  • Public Spending: Adds to security and policing costs, undermining human rights standards.

Challenges Regarding Controlling TOC

Legal and Policy Challenges
  • Variations in Legal Frameworks: Across countries complicate international efforts to combat TOC.
  • Global Consensus: Difficult to achieve on strategies to address TOC due to varying national interests and priorities.
International Cooperation
  • UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC): The main legal instrument, but its implementation and cooperation regime are often ineffective.
  • UNODC and Other Bodies: Lack a coherent strategy, often taking a piecemeal approach.
Enforcement and Governance
  • Informal Solutions: Powerful states prefer unilateral solutions, which often lack oversight, challenging the rule of law and human rights.
  • Corruption: Infiltrates and undermines law enforcement and governance structures.
  • Technology: Criminals exploit technology for illicit activities, staying ahead of law enforcement capabilities.
Conflict and Terrorism
  • Regions of Conflict: TOC can fuel violence and instability, complicating efforts to control it.
  • Terrorism Connection: Criminal profits fund terrorist activities, posing a significant threat.

-Source: The Hindu


June 2024
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