In Focus: A Darker Side to Globalisation
STOP: ILLEGAL: Why is an index like this important?
Chris Clague: The fact is that illicit trade funds transnational organised crime and international terrorist organisations. Pre-9/11, most international terrorist organisations received their funding through charitable donations and state sponsorship. That money flowed through the international financial system. After 9/11, the US, Europe and various other financial centers around the world shut off that funding for terrorist organisations. So they had to look elsewhere to fund their operations and the obvious choice was to engage in illicit activity, whether it be counterfeits and fakes, illicit tobacco, sanction-busting oil shipments, human trafficking, drugs, small arms – these are the things that the public is not as aware of as they need to be.
Organisations such as the World Economic Forum, OECD, UN Office on Drugs and Crime, and various think tanks have all made estimates of the size of illicit trade. But the nature of illicit trade itself makes those estimates difficult as data is hard to come by. We felt that assessing the environment that countries create, either through action or inaction, would be more helpful. This can gain the attention of policymakers and stimulate discussion about what needs to be done to reduce illicit trade. Our index shows policymakers which levers they can pull on to better combat illicit trade. Some of these are well-known, but in a lot of instances there are many things that policy makers do not think about every day.