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Nexus capacity building UNGSC

UNICRI and UNGSC addressing the nexus between organized crime and terrorism


A workshop on the nexus between transnational organized crime and terrorism was held on 11-13 April 2022, facilitated by UNICRI for UN Staff at the United Nations Global Service Centre (UNGSC) in Brindisi (Italy).

The workshop was requested by the UNGSC-based standing capacities, Standing Police Capacity (SPC), Justice and Corrections Standing Capacity (JCSC), Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration Standing Capacity (DDRSC), and Security Sector Reform Standing Capacity (SSRSC), all belonging to the Office of the Rule of Law and Security Institutions.

The course was sponsored by the German Foreign Office through the extrabudgetary project “Targeted United Nations through the Standing Police Capacity (SPC) and the Justice and Corrections Standing Capacity (JCSC) in the area of rule of law to address critical needs for conflict prevention, peace operations and sustainable peace”, and held in hybrid mode. Participants from the standing capacities attended in hybrid mode. Seventeen participants from the standing capacities attended in-person at the UNGSC Base, while 8 others joined online from their deployments in Somalia, Libya, DRC, and Kirghizstan.

The workshop, based on the Policy Toolkit on the Hague Good Practices on the Nexus between Transnational Organized Crime and Terrorism focused on the Toolkit’s research and information sharing recommendations and over the three days covers Syria and Iraq, the Sahel region, and Afghanistan.

The nexus between organized crime is a complex and evolving issue. These links can be manifested in various ways and are shown to have distinct characteristics in different regions depending on environmental, political, and other factors. Member States have expressed increasing concerns about terrorists benefiting from organized crime as a source of financing or logistical support, through the illicit trafficking of goods, drugs, and weapons. The nexus may have a direct negative impact on security and development, contributing to the erosion of political, economic, and social stability.  Even in regions considered more stable and secure, criminal activities can act as an enabler of terrorism.

Since 2016, UNICRI has been working to address this phenomenon, and in close cooperation with the Global Counter Terrorism Forum (GCTF) has developed The Hague Good Practices on the Nexus Between Transnational Organized Crime and Terrorism. The document provides a set of 25 non-binding recommendations for Member States and other interested stakeholders to support the development of policies and strategies to counter the nexus and as a basis for international engagement, assistance, and training.

Based on the Good Practice document, in 2019, UNICRI developed the Policy Toolkit on The Hague Good Practices on the Nexus Between Transnational Organized Crime and Terrorism, addressed to practitioners and policymakers to support the practical implementation of the recommendations in the Good Practices. The Policy Toolkit has been used for capacity-building since 2019 in different regions and for a diverse range of actors, including policy-makers and practitioners in the fields of law enforcement as well as civil society representatives. NATO military officers and UN staff that work in East Africa, North Africa, West Africa, and the Sahel region have also taken part.

The workshop at UNGSC represented an important opportunity to strengthen expertise and share knowledge on the nexus between transnational organized crime and terrorism and on the instruments to prevent and counter them. In his opening speech Leif Villadsen, Deputy Director of UNICRI, highlighted the importance of the partnership with UNGSC: “This workshop, not only presents the opportunity to learn about our experiences, but most importantly, it presents an invaluable occasion to identify, thanks to UNGSC, gaps or areas for future collaboration. The nexus, which is transnational, can be countered through a comprehensive approach, requiring the involvement of different stakeholders (as is happening during this workshop), and through collaboration at the regional level, which is something UNICRI in partnership with UNGSC strives to achieve.”

Investigating, prosecuting, disrupting, and dismantling the trafficking networks linked to this phenomenon is a priority, especially for the achievement of Goal 16 of the UN 2030 Agenda.