The interrelated law and order issues of Organised transnational crime (OTC), the illicit drug trade and terrorism, are those which are most threatening to international security today. ‘Law and order’ issues have also been called, ‘low-intensity conflict’, problems of ‘global governability’ and ‘grey area phenomenon’ and can be seen as threats to security arising from non-state actors and non-governmental processes. Increasingly since the end of the cold war, threats to national security are coming from these grey area phenomena and due to the process of globalisation, threats to national security can threaten international security. This essay will examine how OTC, terrorism and international drug trafficking are affecting all aspects of human security and it will be seen that it is increasingly difficult to clearly distinguish the difference between these issues. It will be shown that these particular GAP are the most threatening due to; the range of aspects of security they threaten, the convergence of and partnership between OTC and terrorism, the growing lethality of terrorism and the disparity of capabilities and effectiveness between these groups and the law enforcement and security bodies attempting to combat them. The new global economy has presented new opportunities for criminal organisations.
... assuredly present a threat to international security. On the basis of these issues (among others including broader environmental concerns, organized crime, and terrorism), a concept ... policy makers because they create instability, generate interstate tension, and threaten international security. South Africa, hosting upwards of eight million illegal immigrants, is ...
These organisations have: increasingly engaged in cross-border activity, both in response to market activities and as a means of decreasing their vulnerability to law enforcement efforts. As a result, organisations and networks have increased in size and power and many have developed interests beyond their country of origin. Criminal organisations have developed to resemble transnational corporations which treat national borders as nothing more than minor inconveniences to their criminal enterprises. (McFarlane 1996, p.
456) The most threatening of activities undertaken by OTC and increasingly by terrorists is the trafficking of illegal narcotics. The drug trade has the ability to penetrate all aspects of society and can threaten the social, political and economic security of nations, regions and the global community. Through corruption of state employees, transnational crime syndicates have the ability to undermine legitimate political processes. Dupont (1999, p. 436) suggests that ‘… the growth in the coercive power of organised crime, if unchecked, has international security implications because large-scale criminal enterprise can subvert the norms and institutions that underpin the global order and the society of states’.
He offers Burma as the prime example of a threat to sovereignty from the “anti-state imperatives of criminals trafficking in heroin and [synthetic drugs].” (p. 454) Chalk (2001, p. 188) offers an example closer to home however. He cites the findings of the 1996-97 Royal Commission into the New South Wales Police Service. The findings of the report suggest their has been a close relationship between police officers and drug traffickers for some time and Chalk goes on to explain that ‘such corruption not only undermines the integrity and credibility of Australian social and political institutions, it also exposes the country to international influences over which it has little, if any, control.’ Thus OTC can be seen to pose a direct threat to sovereignty. In the post Cold War era, concerns have increasingly focused on security aspects other than the traditional concerns of political, military and sovereign integrity.
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The economic and social security of nations and its populations is becoming more important to security analysts and policy makers. The social impact of the drug trade may not necessarily be the most threatening to security but is probably the impact most felt by the majority of citizens within a society. These threats and impacts include; problems with addiction and the related problem of the spread of infectious diseases particularly HIV/AIDS and an increase in crime associated to the drug trade brought about by addicts trying to finance their habit and by traffickers trying to obtain larger shares of a market. McFarlane (1996, p. 459) points to another interesting threat which may emerge from an increase in crime: ‘Furthermore, with increasing crime a free press and civil rights tend to be ignored both by the criminals and by the hard-pressed law enforcement agencies.’ The potential for the drug trade to affect economic security is also large and is more and more becoming the focus of anti-crime initiatives. The importance of programmes and clinics to help those with an addiction problem or associated health or medical problem diverts funds from other areas of the economy.
Finance of resources to combat OTC and the drug trade also diverts money from other sectors of the economy. Destabilisation of a financial system can also occur through the process of money laundering (Chalk: 2001 p 181).
The threat of terrorism also looms large on the international stage, especially since the events of Sept 11 2001 in New York and in Bali on Oct 12 2002. Due to these events, Militant Islamic terrorism is the focus of much of the international effort against terrorism and is seen as an immediate threat to international security. The difference between terrorists and OTC syndicates is largely determined by their motives and objectives. While OTC will usually focus on the acquisition of profits and power, militant Islamic terrors purpose is commonly identified as the eradication of infidel.
In this, they are becoming much more proficient. One of the reasons for this proficiency is the availability and affordability of weapons and supporting technology left over from old Cold War conflicts (Chalk 1999, p. 161; Marengo n. d).
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Campbell (1997, p.
28, cited in Chalk 1999, p. 163) suggests that terrorism ‘has demonstrated an increasing trend towards growing lethality and extreme violence… suggesting a potential escalation spiral that could culminate in the indiscriminate use of weapons of mass destruction’ As separate law and order issues, Organised Transnational Crime and non-profit motivated terrorism constitute immediate threats to international security. There is however, an escalating trend towards cooperation and indeed a convergence between these two groups, so much so that is becoming more difficult to distinguish between them. Since the end of the Cold War, state sponsored and subsidised terrorism has declined and terrorist organisations have turned to criminal like activities to fund operations (Jamieson 2001, p.
The most common and threatening of these activities is drug trafficking which offers dividends that can often lead revolutionary groups to neglect their ideals. Hezbollah operates a narcotics export operation out of the Bekaa Valley in the Middle East, has ties with the insurgent Kurdistan Workers Party and with Russian organised crime and is a good example of a group turning to crime to fund their terror operations. Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC) are better examples of ideologically driven groups that that have transformed into criminal enterprises (Cillufo 2000).
On the other hand, organised crime groups are increasing their use of terror tactics. In 1993 for example, the Sicilian Mafia carried out a series of car bomb attacks near historic sites on the Italian mainland with the aim of ‘intimidating public opinion and Parliament into abrogating recently passed anti-mafia legislation’ (Jamieson 2001, p.
The cooperation between and convergence of OTC and terrorism naturally poses a larger threat to international security than if they operated alone. It is implied by the Report on the 11 th Meeting of the CSCS P Working Group on Transnational Crime (2002) that John McFarlane suggests that the attacks on Sept 11 2001 in New York could not have been perpetrated without criminal means and connections being used to acquire funds and identity papers. The direct threats of OTC, the Drug trade and terrorism have been recognised but a related threat must also be addressed. This threat comes from a disparity between the capabilities of OTC and terrorist groups and the ability of governments to stop their activities. This is exacerbated by the effects of globalisation.
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Naim (2003) best describes this situation Never fettered by the niceties of sovereignty, they [Otc and terrorists] are now increasingly free of geographic constraints. Moreover, globalisation has not only expanded illegal markets and boosted the size and the resources of criminal networks, it has also imposed more burdens on governments: Tighter public budgets, decentralisation, privatisation, deregulation and a more open environment for national trade and investment all make the task of fighting global criminal more difficult. Governments are made up of cumbersome bureaucracies that generally cooperate with difficulty, but drug traffickers, arms dealers, alien smugglers, counterfeiters and money launderers have refined networking to a high science, entering into complex and improbable strategic alliances that span cultures and continents. It is clear from this that governments need to redefine notions of sovereignty in order to foster more international cooperation within the framework of strengthened international institutions. Organised Transnational Crime activities, particularly narcotics trafficking, are a serious threat to international security. They can de stabilise a nation socially, politically and economically, which in turn can lead to destabilisation in the international community.
The increasing occurrence and lethality of militant Islamic terrorism also creates concern for international stability. The most significant threat however, comes from a convergence of OTC and terrorism and the international community’s inability to react effectively to this increasing phenomena.