Globalization has made the world richer in many ways. However, rapid technological advances and the increase of global trade flows over the past decades have also catalyzed all kinds of illicit flows. Such unlawful or illegitimate cross-border exchanges are often linked to organized crime and present broader transnational threats to stability and security. The trafficking in drugs, arms, and people, and the associated illicit financial flows are only some examples of the challenges straddling the border between international and domestic security policy.
In the wider context of the challenges which the international order currently faces, such emerging transnational security threats add another layer to the complex security environment policy-makers need to navigate. However, the challenge of illicit flows may also present a silver lining of sorts: As states find themselves faced with similar challenges which they cannot overcome on their own, this could stimulate multilateral cooperation in practice, contributing to a reinvigoration of regional and global governance mechanisms.
The Munich Security Conference (MSC), true to its 55-year tradition, is committed to doing its part to bring together key actors to foster dialogue and discuss ideas for future cooperation. The MSC's Transnational Security Series aims to provide a high-level forum for decision-makers and experts from policy, academia, and the private sector to discuss strategies on countering the impact of transnational security threats. The Transnational Security Report "Cooperating Across Borders: Tackling Illicit Flows" is part of that effort. It aims to shine a light on selected examples of transnational illicit flows which endanger global security by funding conflicts and perpetuating instability. The report is available in English and in French.
The report focuses on four key areas of illicit flows: people, goods, finance, and data, with selected examples for each. The data analysis and graphics in this report – many of them previously unpublished or updated specifically for this report – were compiled in close cooperation with renowned institutions and experts dedicated to increasing the understanding of illicit flows and transnational organized crime in its different forms.
Given the complexity of the issue, they represent spotlights rather than an exhaustive treatise. As a whole, the report aims to alert decision-makers to the main threats posed by illicit flows and point to possible cooperative approaches, building upon ongoing efforts by multilateral and national bodies around the world.