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Transnational organised crime: The stepchild of crime-combating priorities
15 October 2013

Experts continue to argue about an appropriate definition for organised crime, and ordinary citizens and lawmakers do not really know what it means.

We tend to feel intense about the crime categories that make up organised crime, such as the trafficking of women and children, the poaching and smuggling of rhino horn and ivory, the selling of fake medicines, abalone poaching, the smuggling of endangered species, trafficking in narcotics, bank fraud or cybercrime. But organised crime as a concept tends to leave most people untouched.

Pressure from voters on politicians and the latter’s hope of re-election contribute to crime- combating strategies being short term, uncoordinated and confined within national borders. Little attention is paid to transnational organised crime even though it is developing into a major international security threat.

It has gone global, but effective global responses have not been developed. Undoubtedly, some of the battles against transnational organised crime are being won, but we are losing the war.

The vulnerabilities of developing countries should make the warning lights for Africa go on even stronger than elsewhere. Through its regional organisations and the AU, Africa should start working on a coordinated regional approach towards countering transnational organised crime on the continent, because individual states will no longer be able to do so on their own.

About the author:

Peter Gastrow is a Senior Research Consultant with the ISS and a Senior Advisor to the Global Initiative against Trans- national Organised Crime. A former Director of the ISS Cape Town office, and a Senior Fellow at the International Peace Institute in New York for the past four years, he currently works as an independent consultant from Cape Town.

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