Friday, June 18, 2010
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”.