Crime and conflict: The new challenge for peacebuilding

This report explores the problem posed by the complex relationship between organised crime, armed violence and fragility, and the question of how to design effective responses

At the heart of the document is the hypothesis that an application of the approaches and overall lens of peacebuilding can enrich broader efforts to reduce and transform contemporary armed violence and fragility linked to organised crime. This approach has not been widely tested in practice, but when it has the results are promising.

Over the course of the 20th century, a major period of inter-state warfare and wars of decolonisation gave way to an era of predominantly civil conflicts. The last decade points to further shifts, with far fewer civil wars now recorded worldwide. In their wake, observers seem to agree that conflict is again changing, but a common narrative as to the dominant direction of these changes, and hence the contours of the global peace and security agenda, has yet to gel.

However, one major factor correlated to current changing forms of armed violence is now known to be the effect of new patterns, as well as increased scope and scale, both of organised crime and shadow economies operating at national and sub-national levels. Overlapping and blurred categorisations of a raft of non-state armed groups are often strung together in attempts to describe the complexities involved.