Treating organized crime and corruption as a ‘cancer’ or a ‘virus’ has become shorthand in international policy circles. It is used as a diagnosis to explain how countries as diverse as Mali, Ukraine or Mexico have fallen under the influence of criminal rackets that exercise control over certain state bodies, politicians, judges, police forces or territory.
However, in this report it is argued that an approach rooted in the notion of institutional capture by an external criminal force is – despite its persuasive rhetoric – gravely mistaken.
For various reasons, illicit activity has become part of the living organism of many countries’ public and business affairs. It must be treated not as a foreign body, but as an integral part of governance and economic systems. It is therefore essential that policy responses are adapted to this reality. Organized crime has undergone fundamental changes in size and shape over the past two to three decades.
The authors seek to explain how these changes in criminal patterns and effects have occurred, and what might be done to respond to them in a way that would emphasize the protection of democracy, good governance and human welfare.