"With the ever-changing transnational threats and rise of terrorism, it is essential that defence leaders cooperate on an even closer level."
Halimah Yacob•President of Singapore
The inherent nature of transnational illicit flows means that no actor – be it governments and law enforcement in countries of origin, transit, or destination, as well as international organizations – can address the challenge alone. What is more, unilateral approaches are likely to merely change certain patterns and directions of illicit flows, which have been quick to adapt to changing circumstances in the past. Indeed, observers argue that interventions against illegal trade in particular need to take into account "the political economy superstructure that creates and sustains them."
Approaching the challenge of illicit flows collectively at the regional and global levels could, in fact, provide relatively low-threshold opportunities to stimulate multilateral cooperation in practice. At times of increasing pressure on multilateral institutions like the United Nations, successful cooperative approaches could help reinvigorate regional and global governance mechanisms and, in the process, relegitimize ways of working together in the multilateral ecosystem. Building on the numerous commitments made in recent years to meaningfully counter illicit flows, policy-makers could consider the following recommendations:
For more data and analysis on illicit flows of goods, people, finance and data, download the full Transnational Security Report below: