Today, organized crime is one of the major threats to development and security. Often considered the "dark side" of globalisation, transnational crime is capitalizing on the expansion of international trade and is broadening its range of activity. Acting as multinational corporations, criminal groups seek profit through the evaluation of countries' risks, benefits and markets analysis. The ability to constantly adapt to the changes at local and international levels, to create transnational networks and diversify activities in order to maximize the potential offered by globalisation are the main obstacles for all entities fighting organized crime. Further, the lack of judicial and enforcement tools plays a strategic role in the growth of criminal syndicates' management of trafficking drugs, arms, human beings, counterfeiting and money laundering.
Organized crime adopts all forms of corruption to infiltrate political, economic and social levels all over the world. Strong institutions are supposed to be impermeable to corruption. Contrastingly, weak governance often coexists with corruption and a mutually causal nexus exists between corruption and feeble governmental institutions, often ending up in a vicious cycle. Through corruption, criminal groups generate poverty. Corruption determines the misuse of Governments' resources by diverting them from sectors of vital importance such as health, education and development. Poor people are therefore deprived of economic growth and development opportunities. The price of public services rises to the point that economically deprived people can no longer afford them. As the poor become poorer, corruption feeds poverty and inequality.
This growing socio-economic inequality causes the loss of confidence in public institutions. Social instability and violence increase because of the growing inequality, poverty and mass mistrust of political leaders and institutions.
Organised crime feeds underdevelopment, yet it is also fed by it. Most victims of smuggling and human trafficking are poor. Farmers from developing countries produce illicit crops because they are not given a sustainable alternative by their government. Public servants, those mostly responsible for the deterrence of the corruption, are no longer able, financially, to support their families. There is also a direct link between development and illicit arms trafficking, especially in post-conflict situations. Illicit trafficking and the trade of counterfeited consumer goods take great advantage of the diminution of state-enforced restriction on exchanges across borders. The deregulation of financial markets makes money laundering possible on a global scale.
Organised Crime enjoys impunity when a government is unable to perform its functions. Strong institutional capacities are therefore crucial to address effectively the successfulness of organised crime syndicates. The problems generated by transnational organised crime transcend national boundaries and require coordinated action at the international level.
UNICRI supports countries in the promotion of strengthening the rule of law and institutions capabilities to fight against organized crime and corruption. UNICRI promotes democratic and fair criminal justice systems capable of effectively dealing with the prevention and prosecution of corruption by enhancing cooperation within different countries.
UNICRI promotes the implementation of international Conventions against transnational organized Crime and Corruption through action-oriented research, training activities addressed to the judiciary and law enforcement and by promoting the exchange of information.