Major Irv Marucelj (Canadian Military Engineers) says Mature Peacekeeping Operations unintentionally support the growth of transnational and organized crime. The main reason for this tendency is the societal conditions in the areas to which peacekeeping operations are deployed. But the way in which these operations are conducted also facilitates organized crime.This paper represents the personal research of the author and does not reflect official policy of the Department of National Defence.
Operational experience and research have suggested that an arena of war provides opportunities for the growth of regional crime.1 The social and governmental disorganization (or disintegration in more severe cases) that both accompanies and follows war can be shown to, in a general sense, promote illegal and self-destructive activity. This then translates into the local growth of parasitic crime, which further attracts regional criminal organizations.
Are modern peacekeeping operations, with their usual deployment into similarly conflict-rich scenarios, also a catalyst for the growth of crime? When peacekeepers are brought into a region that is in a state of conflict or low-intensity warfare, history has repetitively proven that they are capable of, and perhaps best at, calming the human environment and reducing the incidence of overt violence. We now have examples of peacekeeping missions that have been operating for several years, and although the measurable success of the missions can be debated, the fact that the local economies and societies have to some degree been revitalized can be quantitatively proven.2 The internationally sponsored missions in the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Haiti and even Iraq are only too quick to point out that there are visual indicators of economic and social repair in the region.3 On the ground, references are made to such events as people walking to work, children going to school, vendors selling goods in their kiosks, and cars on the road as proof of this. In an immediate and gratifying sense, these indicators do provide justification that the peacekeeping mission is meeting with success.
At the same time, criminals, and specifically organized criminal organizations, are featuring more and more on regular United Nations Security Council mission updates.4 While people are getting back on their feet, crime is making the most of the conflict or crisis to irrecoverably embed itself in the new society. The world has seen Mafioso states created in such countries as Russia and Albania, previously solid states that have recently experienced significant societal upheaval. In the interim, they have become states where leaders of criminal syndicates feature on lists of the most powerful regional businessmen, and more than half of the state’s GDP is seized or extracted by organized crime.5 If we recognize this causal link between extreme social transformation and the potential growth of organized crime, it is possible that Mafioso states are today being created today (or being allowed to be created) in areas where peacekeeping operations are deployed.
If we acknowledge this danger to international development, are there characteristics of internationally sponsored peace support operations that facilitate the growth of organized crime?
This paper will attempt to demonstrate a link between societal conditions that facilitate the growth of organized crime and characteristics of Mature Peacekeeping Operations. There are many catalysts for organized crime6; the paper will begin by defining and discussing a number of the more common ones. Each catalyst, or facilitator, of organized crime will be analyzed for its existence in mature peace support operations. As the significant number of commonalities between conditions of peacekeeping operations and facilitators of organized crime will indicate, as a minimum, peacekeeping missions tend to exist in background conditions that favour the growth of organized crime. The United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina will serve as an example of this phenomenon. Finally, I will recommend initiatives for peace support operations that could assist in lessening the inadvertent promotion of regional organized crime.
Definitions must come first. The term “organized crime” has enjoyed social and newsworthy popularity, although it exists without a universally accepted definition.7 Modern definitions tend to lack both vision and consensus, in that they focus on the activities of organized crime rather than the structural characteristics of criminal organizations. With organized crime syndicates continually evolving in new directions and lacking standardization in operating procedures, it is understandably difficult to come up with a holistic and timeless definition. As an attempted solution to this scholarly problem, Donald Liddick has compiled the definitions, both scholarly and governmental, in order to distill the common elements.8 The common elements were found to be (in decreasing order of prominence):
It is not the intent of this paper to dwell on an exact definition. The following definition (used by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI]) emphasizes the most common of these elements , and will serve as an adequate reference for the analysis that follows. According to the FBI,
organized crime [is] any group having some manner of a formalized structure and whose primary objective is to obtain money through illegal activities. Such groups maintain their position through the use of actual or threatened violence, corrupt public officials, graft, or extortion, and generally have a significant impact on the people in their locales, region, or the country as a whole.9
For the purposes of this analysis, the term “Mature Peacekeeping Operation” will refer to an operation in which mounting and deployment is complete, the conflict has ceased, local tensions have relaxed somewhat, and the international community is focusing its efforts on sending the region down the long road towards effective and stable self-sufficiency. On a conflict resolution model, this general scenario would be found on the bell curve’s right hand side, where the downward slope is beginning to even out towards a stable society.
A Mature Peacekeeping Operation is not defined by complete stagnation, and nor is it defined by rapid societal change. It exists between the two. In a Mature Peacekeeping Operation, progress is being made and self-sufficiency is being introduced by the partnership slowly, with no more than the occasional outbreak of violence. It is very much a full peacekeeping partnership at this time, with plenty of local and international NGOs, contractors and businesses operating in the area.
Today there are several examples that fit into this definition of Mature Peacekeeping Operations. Bosnia, Kosovo, and Kabul (but not the rest of Afghanistan) all meet this general term. The intervention in Iraq will also apply once the current violence is contained sufficiently to allow the international community to begin rehabilitation without an overriding fear for security. All of these Mature Peacekeeping Operations face a long road to societal recovery but remain vulnerable to renewed conflict along every step of that path. It is important to ensure, as much as possible, that external influences (in this case, organized crime) do not jeopardize the international efforts made thus far.
The distillation of the societal conditions that facilitate organized criminal operations has been pursued across a range of academic disciplines. Social theorists, political scientists, economists, and criminologists all have their own ideas about what promotes criminal activity on an organized scale. Each claims legitimacy according to their unique perspectives. This does not necessarily mean that the arguments and proofs contradict themselves across academic disciplines; in fact, many of their ideas are complementary and support each other.
The following six conditions will be examined in the following pages. Each condition will be assessed as both a facilitator of organized crime and a condition of Mature Peacekeeping Operations.
Subculture theories of organized crime hold that the social values of the informal groups to which an individual belongs will have a large impact on that individual’s actions. This will occur largely through that group’s definition and manipulation of acceptable morals and ethics.11 The group-approved list of acceptable behaviour is not formulated in a vacuum but instead is defined through external influences. These external influences cannot be solely blamed, for the social group itself can inculcate behaviour that is neither rational nor necessary for survival. For example, although there is a relationship between poverty and the incidence of certain crimes,12 certain social groups will, because of exposure to harsh survival conditions in the past, set a trend of delinquency that is socially accepted from generation to generation. Though societal conditions may change, the criminal behaviour in question has been accepted by the group and learned by the individual without any rational necessity for its continuation. Many social groups thus suffer from self-destructive behaviours that are passed on to individuals who do not have that third-person perspective to recognize the benefits of unlearning their damaging lessons. Groups that have lived in depressed conditions may continue to accept illegal action as a survival mechanism. Organized criminals can gain entry into that social group more easily and with less concern for group alarm or repercussions.
Social groups can also have a more active influence by aggressively promoting criminal activity. In this way a permissive social group may actually evolve into an organization that sponsors or engages in organized crime as a business venture. This sort of group action can only take place when the group holds sufficient influence over its members to ensure their loyalty and dedication.
In these ways the cohesion of a permissive social group can influence the growth of organized crime. However, the disintegration of social groups can also have a negative effect on the individual’s ability to resist engaging in criminal activity. Today’s highly mobile world, with its continually growing proportion of transient workers and travellers, disengages a considerable percentage of people from the influence of their social group. Social groups that are disintegrating have less influence and are therefore less able to restrict their members’ behaviour.13 Previously established social norms will have less influence over the actions of individuals within the group and make them more prone to manipulation under new external influences.14
Criminal organizations may seek to take advantage of this social disarray and ally themselves with portions of the local population.15 Because of the opportunistic and parasitic nature of crime, this sort of partnership ultimately benefits the criminal organization more than the local populace. This partnership is also easier to accomplish when that organization establishes common ground with the population in question. That common ground is most easily formed and strengthened against an external enemy or irritant.16 Thus, the existence of a readily identifiable external group (such as the government or an international organization) allows the criminal organization to promote its commonality with the local population (usually aided through a common ethnic background) and gain a degree of cooperation from them. The fostering of a relationship between the criminal organization and the social group may also involve gifts or benefits offered as goodwill to that group. This endears the criminals’ to the local population who, although they may be unable to actively support the criminals’ operations, may side with them against government efforts to stem their livelihood, from which the local population earns a residual benefit. A previously antagonistic population can become permissive towards organized crime under these sorts of incentives. In general, any commonality in background between organized crime and the local population and a permissive social culture will be exploited to the full advantage of that criminal organization.17
Peacekeeping operations have the capacity to wreak havoc with an established culture’s norms of social behaviour. This is largely due to the necessity for or opportunities to create relations with the international community through the entire peacekeeping partnership. Regardless of how much effort the international intervention expends in order to ensure the continuation of local customs, portions of the local population will adopt the language and working culture of the interventionists in order to conduct smoother transactions and gain an edge over competitors. In an environment where international peace organizations are the only source of stable and well-paid employment, there will be no shortage of entrepreneurs adopting international customs and behaviour in order to secure a piece of that wealth.
The incremental introduction of new social norms into a peacekeeping locale is not at issue; at issue is the rapidity and severity of this introduction. In a Mature Peacekeeping Operation, the partnership will include most or all of the following entities: a multi-national armed force promoting security and stability, an international organization sponsoring or managing the peace-building/humanitarian mission, and a multitude of non-governmental organizations from a variety of backgrounds. The onus on the local population to deal with all of these organizations (in order to best reap the benefits) promotes the adoption of an international variety of social norms and values, some of which will have, at the very least, subtle contradictions. The sheer magnitude of external social norm pressures can cause confusion and division over what is moral, legal, ethical and accepted behaviour for the group.18
In this growing morass of social norms, the limits of acceptable conduct become ambiguous and convoluted. Keeping in mind that the line between organized crime and legitimate business can be very unclear,19 this confusion about what is acceptable behaviour tends to facilitate the jump from legal to illegal action for individuals or groups that do not possess a strict social definition of right and wrong. The fact that the social limits of ethical conduct can often conflict with international legal definitions further adds to the possibility of the group condoning activities that are not condoned by the international community.
The influence of the social group upon the individual can also undergo transition in the peacekeeping environment. Not only might individuals gain much unprecedented exposure to international agencies and organizations, but the introduction of such organizations may also induce an increase in individual travel across the region in question. Some local employees and entrepreneurs will find themselves travelling where there was earlier no need to do so. This incremental increase in individual travel will add to social group fragmentation and lessen the overall influence the group has on the individual, who is slowly distancing himself from his or her roots. This will not in itself cause complete social disintegration, but it may influence a social migration toward individualism. With less influence from the group, the individual is free to act according to his or her wishes and is thus less encumbered by group-reinforced morals that would otherwise prohibit their engaging in illegal activity.
In these ways, a Mature Peacekeeping Operation can decrease the influence of local social groups. Regardless of the attitude with which the international community confronts the behaviour of these groups, in most cases the groups have proven their historical worth in stabilizing communities, preventing widespread anarchy and ensuring some degree of societal survival. The less focused the social group is (as a result of confusion due to the intervention) or the less influence it has upon the individual, the more likely it is that individualistic behaviour will result, which, in certain personalities and with certain opportunities, will manifest itself as criminal.20
Organized crime, just like any other business venture that deals in the movement of material goods, will more likely flourish in a city that is tied into regional transportation routes.21 The amount of travel (and corresponding demand for transportation systems) will encourage the growth of population and business in the area. Organized crime, which is liable to branch out into several areas of business rather than stay with one type of good or service,22 cannot forever avoid confronting the physical necessity of supply routes. The survival of organized criminal business demands diversity and flexibility in its transportation possibilities, however. Whereas a legitimate business can afford to maximize its profit by, for instance, minimizing the routes used and shipping in bulk, organized criminal traffic will willingly incur extra costs by maximizing the diversity of the routes used and dividing shipments into smaller quantities. The extra cost of transportation is offset by the decreased risk of detection. Avoidance of detection by law enforcement is a very important component of organized crime; the seizure of any shipment results in an instant loss of profit. Any region that can avoid this (through sheer opportunities for alternate transportation) will be attractive to organized crime.
A seaport holds a specific attraction because of the relative laxness in cargo inspection today.23 Although it is possible that border security will tighten in the future, advocates of tighter security are constantly fighting against the pressures of business, whose interest is to maintain and increase the openness of borders in order to facilitate trade and speed transportation of goods. The incremental criminal activity that would be suppressed if control were heightened is simply not seen as worth the administrative trouble and increased transportation costs to business.
The threat of terrorism is having a greater impact on border regulations and security. Some states are now pursuing stringent initiatives on monitoring the shipment of goods across borders.24 It is under the umbrella of counter-terrorism that these initiatives are taking place: the potential damage (in life and property) from successful terrorist action in general outweighs the direct damage caused by the movement of smuggled or illegal goods. Because there is less of a visible, overt link between the movement of illegal goods and societal damage, controlling the shipment of illegal goods is often delegated to the sidelines of national security policy. 25
The regional transportation system must be seen as a whole, with each method of transportation contributing to the potential flow into and out of that region. A higher transportation flow into a region will translate into a higher potential criminal flow and a correspondingly increased ability for that criminal flow to operate undiscovered.26
Given the condition of much of the world’s developing or semi-developed regions, an international peacekeeping operation is likely to exert widespread wear on the regional transportation system. In many cases, the existing system will be found inadequate to meet the needs of the region even before the internationals arrive. One of the requirements of a nation-building exercise (in order to support the requirements of military and economic traffic) will be modernization of the existing transportation routes. This will better enable the military component of the mission to transit the region and encourage that economic traffic (heavy trucks) that simply cannot reach an area if suitable routes do not exist. This repair and continued maintenance of the transportation system will encourage future economic partnerships at all levels and sets the stage for regional self-sufficiency.
With legitimate traffic comes illegitimate traffic, however. Inadvertently, the international mission, in improving the transportation system, is going to have the lingering, but significant effect of encouraging criminal organizations to use those routes for the same reasons.
It has been noted that the social group to which the individual belongs will establish limits of socially acceptable behaviour. At times these social limits will come into conflict with what is regionally permitted by law. If the legal framework is weak, either through ineffective policing or lax judicial process, then the possibility of being caught will be perceived to be lower and incentive for committing the crime (through influence of the social group or possibility of individual gain) correspondingly higher.
The competence of the local police and the severity of the legal system factor heavily into the local incidence of crime. One viewpoint on crime explains its occurrence as a simple cost/benefit analysis performed from an individual perspective.27 A simplified portrayal of this cost benefit analysis would be:
According to this chart, a lower chance of being caught and a lower severity of punishment will translate into an increased likelihood of crime. In organized crime, the hierarchy of the organization will determine the exact perspective for conducting this analysis: it can be a group or an individual perspective, depending on who makes the decisions for that group. What is important is that, just as a legitimate business conducts a cost/benefit analysis for its upcoming projects, so does an organized criminal organization conduct cost/benefit analysis for its upcoming operations. An ineffective or lax police and justice system simply decreases the cost of criminal operations over time, which would in turn encourage more criminality.
The idea that organized crime operates as a legitimate business holds weight in organizational or economic circles but does not necessarily account for the social or political influence that an organized criminal group can exert on its surroundings. Legitimate businesses will attempt to use favouritism or the granting of gifts in order to secure contracts, but criminal organizations have a modus operandi that outweighs all the techniques of their legal counterparts: the threat of violence. The application of this threat can be a force multiplier and grants those criminal organizations a definite advantage, assuming it can protect them from legal persecution.
If the state does not possess a monopoly on the threat and use of force, then it will lose its legitimacy (in the eyes of the population) and its effectiveness (against these criminal organizations). This will lead to further encouragement of illegal operations and further decline of state (in this case, police and judicial) power.
The police and justice systems will be areas of jurisdiction where peacekeeping missions will likely have some mandate, if there is some international issue with their capabilities or operating procedures. At the very least, the peacekeeping mission may receive some oversight responsibility in order to ensure the local police system remains focused and committed to success.
Historical data will prove that police systems in politically unstable areas have generally been prone to incompetence (as a result of lack of numbers, equipment or training) and corruption (both internal and external).28 In the last decade, the missions in the Balkans, Middle East and Africa have all been plagued by ineffective or non-existent police forces. As a result, police officers have had to be trained or recruited in order to ensure the operation had the support it required. An effective police force is also a precondition for continued success once the peace operation is over and has left the region.
At times, the peacekeeping mission itself will create stress within the police or the justice system by forcing a change of personnel or procedures. Local police officers may be implicated in corruption or other criminal charges during the course of the conflict, and it is not uncommon that a portion be discharged after the subsequent investigations.29 Those who are guilty of improper conduct will strongly resist dismissal. They will probably have supporters within the local population whose sympathetic anger or disappointment will only increase the social divide between international efforts and local cooperation. Subversive activities (in the form of increased local crime) that may be carried out after this dismissal may endear the population toward a reinstatement of dismissed officers, further reducing the legitimacy of the international peace-building force and supporting the corrupt, criminal elements.
A police or justice system under an international peacekeeping mission may not intentionally be lax or incompetent. It may, however, be inexperienced or its numbers insufficient to deal with local issues. It is in the best interest of organized criminals to have some contacts within the local police and justice system, and there will be considerable effort expended to achieve this unlawful partnership.
One of organized crime’s primary characteristics is the corruption of public officials. The involvement of public officials in the organized criminal system is a tremendous benefit to the organization’s activities. Organized criminals run their syndicates as businesses and will maximize their profit largely through the same best business practices that legal businesses engage in.30 The difference is that criminal business cannot operate without attracting judicial and police attention to their operations. Control of strategically selected public officials can help to smooth the criminal syndicate’s operations and distract attention. A local government (with key officials sponsored by organized crime) that simply turns a blind eye toward illegal activity can be sufficient to ensure that criminal organization’s survival.
Due to monetary limitations and the invulnerability of some moral individuals, there is a limit to the number of officials that can be bribed or otherwise influenced. The nature of these criminal-political relationships changes as the criminal organization becomes more institutional and formalized. In the initial stages of their development, organized criminal groups are predatory, in an attempt to aggressively increase their market share of product and protect it as much as possible. As the market becomes saturated and the criminal group’s products become an integral part of that region’s society, the criminal organization will initiate a move toward a more symbiotic relationship with the ruling organization it has been circumventing.31 This symbiosis takes the form of informal and formal agreements between the criminal group and individuals in the government and the administration. The criminal organization attempts to permanently secure its freedom of action within this forum of political instability or government weakness. The symbiosis will eventually become integrated enough that the organized criminals will have a stake in the ruling organization’s continued survival and prosperity.
For example, in Russia’s new economy, the sudden adoption of capitalism united with the eagerness of rich criminal syndicates to create a partnership that made government and organized white-collar crime truly difficult to differentiate.32 Because there is little threat of persecution, gangsters have become legitimate businessmen while maintaining their criminal techniques. The government and organized crime have entered into an exploitive partnership that the government is unwilling and unable to dissolve. In a region where everyday quality of life is a widespread issue, it is reasonable to assume that criminal influence will infiltrate the ruling parties. It cannot be over-emphasized that the danger is in the long-term government-criminal partnerships, which will be a constant and significant drain on the efficiency and profits of the legitimate economy.33
It cannot be assumed that a local and functioning government will exist in areas where peacekeeping forces are deployed. Although an administrative structure may exist, it may lack the personnel and resource support required to keep it functioning and fulfilling its mandate. Peacekeeping missions will also tend to deploy into the poorer areas of the world, whose governments (at all levels) will be subject to continuous attempts at corruption and illegitimate collaboration, at times by organized criminals and their representatives.
Although there has been a recent emphasis on nation-building in areas where peacekeeping missions are deployed, internationally imposed political or government advisors have been included in peacekeeping efforts for decades. This is in recognition of local institutional instability and the need for its repair over the long-term. The arrival of these internationals can create disorganization in the system, however. Internationals often deploy with naivety of the local area, which further opens the door to external manipulation.
In today’s global climate of general acceptance of national self-determination, it is also possible that new political units are established and recognized internationally while the peace operation is underway. In such instances, there may be a significant and sudden demand for political and governmental expertise. The international community will no doubt eventually offer some guidance, but other enterprising organizations (some criminal in nature) will do the same. This behaviour is no different from that of legitimate businesses, which will also be attempting to exert influence (albeit with greater restraint) on a politically immature region. This political inexperience can make government officials more susceptible to external pressures of all types.
Organized crime, like any other business, is drawn to its markets. Given the opportunistic character of criminal organizations, it is logical to assume that they will be established within reach of the loose and accessible wealth that helps guarantee a positive return on investment. If wealth and disposable income already exists, then a market for certain luxury (but illegal) goods can be created. If this wealthy environment is coupled with a lax police and justice system (and little threat of, or repercussion from, being caught), then a greater number of people will be enticed to indulge in their vices.
This ruthlessness and opportunism on the part of organized crime leads it toward monopolistic enterprises. The ability of crime syndicates to operate outside legal constraints opens doors that would otherwise be closed due to fair competition. A popular view on organized crime34 holds that the organization’s behaviour can be modelled solely as a monopolistic enterprise willing to operate outside established legal parameters. If one were to put a wall around the crime syndicate and study it in isolation, then the monopoly model does serve as a starting point for analyzing its operating methods. Although it could be argued that criminal syndicates exert political influence through their methods and contacts, the same could be said of the larger legitimate businesses operating in the world today (albeit through different methods). Taken from a business viewpoint, there is, at times, little to distinguish a legitimate business from an organized criminal syndicate. With today’s permissive business practices, it is not difficult for a legitimate company to approximate the techniques (minus the threat or use of violence) used by criminal syndicates to achieve their business goals. Exorbitant interest rates and protectionist measures all serve to give potentially unfair advantage to some businesses to the detriment of either other businesses or the customer.
The monopolistic nature of organized criminal enterprise then leads to expansionist and opportunist policies. This expansion is also facilitated by a ready abundance of wealth in their area of operations, which may translate into an increased demand for vice goods and a source of needed revenue to fund the continual expansion.
An important component of peacekeeping missions, once open conflict has subsided, is the promotion of economic recovery. Under a conflict or war scenario, the local economy is likely to have suffered significantly. The priority for consumers under conflict is to be able to purchase basic necessities for survival, the prices of which are often inflated to ridiculous levels.35 Low- and mid-range luxury goods serve no purpose toward survival in that situation, and their markets tend to collapse. High-end luxury items may still have a market in collateral or wealth protection (individuals may prefer to own precious metals over a rapidly devaluing currency, for example).
The installment of an international peacekeeping force will, once general security and stability has been established, promote the operations of NGOs and legitimate business. The majority of NGOs are established either as charities or within the foreign aid budgets of their home countries. They operate under varying degrees of self-sufficiency: some will be completely self-sufficient, with only the necessity to procure daily supplies from the region in which they operate. Others will have little more than a skeletal administrative structure and sub-contract out all their projects to local personnel. Most NGOs will inject sizable amounts of money (often cash) into the local economy. Even token amounts of foreign aid coming into an area will significantly increase the amount of floating, uncommitted project capital in that region. There will be a race to secure some of these international projects and contracts (understandably, given the likely extent of poverty in the mission area). When a crime syndicate can use its influence to literally force out the competition (often behind closed doors), there is no reason for it to ignore the potential wealth that these international contracts can provide.
Although NGOs are a new source of income for the local economy, the international peacekeeping effort will also be introducing money into local society from the day of its initial deployment until its final departure. The local staff the peace contingent hires infuses the local economy with often-inflated pay, which can translate into a large amount of disposable income and another opportunities for organized criminal operations to exploit.
One of the sociological perspectives of criminal activity relies on the concept of “anomie,” or strain.36 This idea, which gained popularity and developed during the middle of the 20th century, argues that crime is especially prevalent in those societies that place a great importance on material wealth and then deny the attainment of this wealth to a class of people. A certain percentage of this class then feels that this uncontrollable denial is a justification to “strain” the limits of acceptable societal behaviour. They resort to various crimes in order to achieve that wealth that the society so eagerly pushes as a symbol of success.
This strain can occur at any level of the society, but will be more prominent in the lower economic classes. The local, and therefore constant, presence of a richer class will invite those regular comparisons that bring about this strain. Key to this idea of strain is the continuous reaffirmation of class difference and the perceived importance of that material wealth, regardless of the local standard of living. The direction of efforts in remedying the strain will depend on the local opportunities presented, and if local opportunities for socially acceptable or legal actions are not open, then there is an increased probability of illegal or criminal solutions.
In many cases, the introduction of a peacekeeping partnership led by Western countries will introduce the prominent Western emphasis on material goods. Because local employees with international organizations tend to earn a wage that is out of sync with societal standards,37 a new economic class is formed. The imposition of this new class, which has no historical precedent, creates further strain (through other classes’ consciousness) in the society. A society where economic class is now largely based upon the ability to speak English (which will usually grant individuals who do a substantial advantage over others in being hired by international organizations) does not establish relations that are, over the long term, sustainable. Previously established class relationships may hold less weight as this new economic class gathers power through its wages. Professionals will be lured away from the local sector in which they played an important part in order to be employed as translators or in other international organization roles.
Likewise, the arrival of international professionals creates a new, locally based economic class that is neither permanent nor a contributor (except through the expenditure of disposable wealth) to the local society. As that international class is able to pay top dollar for its necessities, it will inadvertently consume the best of the goods (such as accommodations and rations) that were previously generated for the local population.
The constant pressures that the new local and international economic classes put on the established society will raise the consciousness of those who are denied entry into either, especially those who held positions of economic power that they have lost in the course of the conflict.
Having provided evidence of the link between Mature Peacekeeping Operations and organized crime facilitators, I will use the international peace effort in Bosnia as a modern example to further illustrate this relationship.
Bosnia accurately fits into the definition of a Mature Peacekeeping Operation as discussed in this paper. Arguably, it is the stereotype of such a mission. Cyprus could be another example, but it tends to characterize interpositional peacekeeping and stagnation rather than the complex second-generational peacekeeping of today. Bosnia has by any peacekeeping standard a secure and stable environment, working governmental and ruling institutions, and an international aid presence (along with the contractors and companies that brings). The path to recovery and self-sufficiency has been well-defined but not nearly completed.
Organized crime is a problem in Bosnia today. One need only consult daily newspapers from the past few months to find references to Bosnia’s problem with organized crime and its constant interference with progress.38
The most recent briefing of the High Representative to the Security Council highlights the problem of organized crime in Bosnia and current efforts to deal with it.39 Established networks of organized crime are deeply embedded within the local administrative and political systems. Some of these criminals are indicted war criminals, including the current vice-president of Republika Srpska, who is a concrete and sinister example of corruption in public office.
Corruption has been significant within the police system, and the international community is attempting to address this problem. The International Police Task Force (IPTF) has been certifying serving police officers after they have passed checks for security and competency. A number of conflict-era police officers have been found unfit for duty due to corruption charges and have been ordered to step down.
This could have been a success story; however, a local court has since decided it has the legitimate right to reinstate dismissed officers. It has now begun exercising that perceived right. A separate organization, the Bosnia and Hercegovina Human Rights Chamber, has also unilaterally ruled that it possesses the legal capability to decide whether these police officers were rightfully dismissed. This undermining of the UN’s authority has the potential to negate the hard work done thus far and reduces optimism for progress in the future. A legal dispute can be as conducive to manipulation as is a legal vacuum; both are sources of uncertainty.
Politically, this will be a critical year for the future of Bosnia. The High Representative has stated his aim to turn over certain governing institutions to local decision-makers and administration.40 Regardless of whether or not these institutions are capable of sustaining themselves and competently fulfilling their roles, an increased opportunity for subversion and corruption lie in the transition period. With the loss of UN responsibility and widespread oversight into the region’s governance, local administrators will have more freedom and will therefore be more susceptible to manipulative, criminal organizations. That lack of political stability, which is discussed above as a facilitator of organized criminal activity, will become manifest during the transitory period and shortly thereafter, as the new administrators become accustomed to their roles.
Organized crime is traditionally viewed as being the responsibility of the police and the justice system. In Bosnia, it is the pillar of police and judicial reconstruction that attempts to actively deal with the problem through investigation of the other pillars of Bosnian administration. Although organized crime can be characterized as a simple issue of legality in operating procedures or trafficked goods, dealing with the problem from a one-dimensional point of view will not be nearly as effective as attacking it from multiple angles. Consequently, all sectors of the burgeoning society or international operation must make an active effort to stem the tide of the creeping, organized corruption and illegal behaviour sponsored by criminal syndicates.
The weight of organized crime and corruption severely hinders the nation-building effort. Developing nations spend a greater proportion of their annual budget combating crime than do industrialized nations, and this then forces them to spend less on state development.41 The climb from developing to developed state is thus made more tedious and difficult.
Organized criminal activity, through the corruption of public officials, siphons incredible amounts of money from state budgets and contracts at all levels. In many ways, this corruption has become so widespread that it is simply acknowledged as a way of doing business, a “tax” or a “tribute” that must be paid over the course of normal transactions. This has become a learned behaviour through decades of poverty and inability of the state to meet basic human needs, which are then met through this type of illegitimate business activity. In Bosnia, the siphoning of funds does not have such a long history but has been introduced with the political instability and the relatively easy access to wealth that the international community has brought in.
Is it inevitable that Mature Peacekeeping Operations will operate in conditions that promote the growth of organized crime? Although crime itself is a part of any society, measures can be taken, within the current scheme of peacekeeping operations, to reduce its effects. It will never be possible to eradicate organized crime entirely, but the ease with which it operates today under current peacekeeping missions must be challenged more vigorously.
In the early days of post-conflict rebuilding, it is difficult to determine the legitimacy of local businessmen and entrepreneurs, who are only too eager to sign contracts. It is relatively easy, in an economic and legal vacuum, for organized criminals to take the initiative and win or influence the awarding of contracts. It is also easy, in a security vacuum, for the same criminals to seize duties or contracts from legitimate local businessmen.
The flow of money must be better scrutinized to ensure that it does not move into the hands of organized criminals. It is not acceptable to tolerate uncertainty in business transactions, even in a scenario of societal disorganization. It is not always possible to have visibility in the local flow of monies or secure the legitimacy of every businessperson. However, regular and intensive investigation conducted by a third party into the suitability of existing contractors can help to identify possible leeches. Although this in itself can be costly, the expenditures would not compare with the amount being taken illegitimately from the rebuilding effort.
Social groups can be a fragile construction, though their importance to maintaining stability in a society must be emphasized. Although there may be a requirement for the intervention to restructure local social groups (because of harmful inter-ethnic relations, for example), care should be taken to reduce the unnecessary manipulation of local social ties or standards. There must also be a proactive effort on the part of the international peace effort to ensure that the local population does not unintentionally aid its own social degradation by over-extensively catering to the international community to the neglect of its own social groups. Western influence may be seen as positive to many people, but too much change over too short a period will have a destabilizing effect that can only open the door to the formulation of new, or manipulation of old, social standards from criminal sources. It is understood that not all societies will have a strong social fabric to begin with; however, the usefulness of this social fabric must be respected and capitalized upon in all peace-building operations.
The modern international emphasis on nation-building initiatives in peacekeeping missions leads to problems with mission timelines. In the realm of peace operations, few goals seem to have schedules that are as open-ended as those in the building or reconstruction of nations. Bosnia was originally a peacekeeping operation (largely for the purpose of human security), but it has since experienced “mission creep” such that today the contributing nations are involved in the reconstruction and monitoring of national institutions. Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq are further examples of operations where either the end state of the mission is ill-defined (as in Afghanistan and Iraq) or its path characterized by a lack of clarity (as in Kosovo).
Although it is difficult to achieve consensus in an international political situation, the lack of an exit strategy only encourages stagnation in the peace-building effort. Tolerating stagnation translates into toleration of the political instability and incoming wealth that promote organized crime. Establishing a well-defined end state with strict intermediate goalposts would help to enable measurement of the mission’s progress, increasing the visibility of elements (such as organized crime) that may be tampering with that progress.
Organized crime promotes stagnation in development, and the establishment of strict goalposts locally may induce goal-orientation that would discourage criminal-governmental partnerships for fear of losing all international aid.
Mature Peacekeeping Operations unintentionally support the growth of transnational and organized crime. In large part this is due to the background societal conditions in those areas to which peacekeeping operations are traditionally deployed. It is also because of the way in which these operations are conducted. The social and class strain, the political instability, and the sudden availability of wealth that characterizes an international intervention all tend to promote organized criminal activity.
There has been a historical acceptance that, in the absence of an established ruling organization and administrative system, compromises will be made and leniencies accepted in operational procedures for civilian and military peace builders on the ground. Corruption that becomes imbedded into the system during its formative period is impossible to destroy. Since the ultimate goal of any peace-building effort is a self-sufficient, stable local administration, this must be addressed from the beginning and must not be allowed to fully develop in the first place. Corruption, most of which has historically been linked (and in the case of Bosnia is linked) to organized crime, significantly stunts the financial power of the fledgling economy and the legitimate government. Progress in the nation-building effort must be made if self-sufficiency is ever to be achieved. Lack of progress will only lead to stagnation. An international effort that does not show results will not be able to garner international support forever; international money demands results or it is re-directed.
In this era of peacekeeping operations, we have yet to see an internationally sponsored peace-building effort abandoned because of the effects of organized crime. However, we have yet to see a completely successful peace-building effort. Many are on the road now, but that road is long, and will be longer still with the wave of organized crime that is taking over weak states. Time will tell whether our peace-building efforts are strong enough to resist it.
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