Serious organised crime (SOC), transnational corruption and illicit finance threaten national and global security and create vulnerabilities that undermine efforts to build resilient states, societies and economies – in the UK and around the world.
As the UK’s Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy explains, ‘Overseas, SOC is a threat to international security and prosperity: it extends and exacerbates conflicts; undermines allies and partners’ stability; and inflicts the highest economic cost on the lowest-income countries'. Data from the UNODC shows how SOC kills as many people globally as all armed conflicts combined, far surpassing the numbers killed by terrorist violence. SOC acts as an enabler of state threats and terrorism, nationally and cross-border, and is itself fuelled by transnational corruption and illicit financial flows (IFFs). IFFs and economic crime act as enablers for organised crime groups (OCGs), terrorist and extremist groups, transnational corruption and kleptocracy and other malicious actors.
Lack of political will has been shown to be a key factor undermining counter-SOC, anti-corruption and anti-money laundering strategy and operations, and the UK’s Serious and Organised Crime Strategy sets out the intention to ‘drive up political will to address vulnerabilities in jurisdictions of risk, enhancing resilience and strengthening operational cooperation’.
SOC ACE uses a problem-led, politically informed approach, building on findings from the Anti-Corruption Evidence (ACE) research programme, funded by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), and the University of Birmingham’s high impact research and global policy/practitioner engagement on Thinking and Working Politically (TWP).
The programme benefits from linkages with the university’s Institute for Global Innovation’s research cluster on 21st century transnational crime as well as the Centre for Crime, Justice and Policing.
The approach takes as its starting point – and adapts - the ACE framing principles:
- anti-SOC and Anti-Corruption, not just admiring the problem;
- problem-led, not starting with preconceived ideas about the ‘right’ solutions;
- real world priorities in sectors and geographies in which SOC, illicit finance and transnational corruption are part of, but rarely all of, the problem;
- Taking politics seriously, developing politically viable reforms and approaches in ways that are context-sensitive and avoid unintended consequences;
- thinking differently about prevention through better understanding the ways in which SOC and corruption provide solutions to the everyday problems people face that often have deep social, structural, economic and political roots, particularly in resource-scare environments;
- innovative approaches to testing and measuring the effects of anti-SOC, illicit finance and transnational corruption interventions;
- ‘nose to tail’ engagement with policy makers and practitioners – from research design through to implementation, delivery, communication and engagement.
SOC ACE has commissioned a number of research projects in this phase, details of which can be found in the drop-down menu below. In the coming months, please bookmark this website for news, events and publications. You can also follow us on Twitter: @SOCACE_Research