Friday, June 18, 2010

Blitz: UN global crime sector an economic power

In one of the most comprehensive analyses undertaken of transnational criminal activity, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime has calculated that the illicit trade in a range of commodities – including drugs, people, arms, fake goods and stolen natural resources – has an annual value of roughly $130bn.

The report shows how transnational crime continues to be dominated by the trade in cocaine and heroin, a business whose product is worth about $105bn a year.

But it suggests that other criminal activities – including the trafficking of natural resources, product counterfeiting and maritime piracy – are becoming of increasing concern to the international community.


“Transnational crime has become a threat to peace and development, even to the sovereignty of nations,” says Antonio Maria Costa, the UNODC’s executive director. “Today, the criminal market spans the planet: illicit goods are sourced from one continent, trafficked across another, and marketed in a third.”

Mr Costa says trans­national crime has become so intense that it risks undermining a number of states, most notably in Africa. The world’s big powers are showing “benign neglect” towards a problem that is hurting everyone, “especially poor countries that are not able to defend themselves”.