The crime-development paradox: organised crime and the SDGs


The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have immense transformative potential, but organised crime has proven to be a cross-cutting threat to the achievement of core and essential development objectives – both directly and indirectly. Organised crime not only directly threatens specific goals, such as the reduction of poverty and the promotion of economic growth; but also the general maintenance of global biodiversity and sustainable environments; the building of safe and inclusive societies; the promotion of public health and peoples’ well-being; and even the orderly management of migration.

Whereas the SDGs are indivisible, organised crime is divisive and destructive. It is poison in the well of global sustainable development. In all five priorities of the SDGs – people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership – the interrelationship with organised crime needs to be more fully considered. This is critical both for protecting development gains from the negative impacts of organised crime, determining the way that organised crime itself is responded to, and predicting how effective those responses will be.

About the authors

Tuesday Reitano is the Deputy Director of the Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime. She previously worked for 10 years at the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the UN Development Programme, in particular focusing on issues of governance, justice and conflict transition.

Marcena Hunter is a Senior Analyst at the Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime, where she specialises on illicit flows from and through Africa.

Photo © Jacqueline Cochrane

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