IPI HomePublicationsPolicy PapersSpotting the Spoilers: A Guide to Analyzing Organized Crime


print print  |  share share back back

Policy Papers - March 22, 2012

Spotting the Spoilers: A Guide to Analyzing Organized Crime

Mark Shaw and Walter Kemp



Rarely considered a serious challenge until recently, organized crime and related serious crime have become a critical issue in many fragile states. Experience shows that organized crime must be addressed during the course of any peace operation or political mission, since in many cases it is the biggest impediment to peace.

 Download publication (4.5 MB)

Given weak institutions, few economic opportunities, and serious security threats, the activities of organized crime can have a disproportionate and devastating impact in fragile states, particularly when a political transition to peace or democracy is underway.

This guide is designed for people in multilateral organizations who want to analyze the nature of organized crime in a fragile state, and should be particularly useful for field staff of peacekeeping, peacebuilding, or political missions engaged in mission planning and post-conflict needs-assessment.

The objective of this guide is to hopefully allow the production of what is generally called an Organized Crime Threat Assessment (OCTA). The OCTA is a tool for generating a strategic picture of organized crime that can lead to an evidence-based response, both in terms of policy and operations.

The guide seeks to provide an overview of what steps can be taken to analyze and understand organized and serious crime in a particular country. It is not a guide for conducting a criminal investigation; rather, it is a way to gather together information on things that have not been focused on before and that impact the peace or political process.

It is divided into three sections, each beginning with a basic question:

1) What are we talking about?
2) What’s going on?
3) What is the impact?

Each section then drills down deeper into additional questions to ask and detailed steps to take towards gathering the relevant information for a proper analysis of organized crime in a particular country.

This is the latest publication in IPI Vienna’s Peace Without Crime project.

Read the publication in Arabic

The Global Observatory

In Lebanon, Clerics Support Efforts to Bring Men on Side of Equality
Anthony Keedi believes a win-win exists between gender equality and what they're preaching.

Key Global Events to Watch in April
A list of key upcoming meetings and events with implications for global affairs.

2014 Top 10 Issues to Watch in Peace & Security: The Global Arena
A list of ten key issues to watch that are likely to impact international peace and security in 2014, compiled by IPI's Francesco Mancini.

The Global Observatory, produced by IPI, provides timely analysis on peace and security issues, interviews with leading policymakers, interactive maps, and more.

Recent Events

April 05, 2014
IPI Opens Middle East Regional Office
International Peace Institute President Terje Rød-Larsen inaugurated IPI’s new Middle East Regional Office with a recognition of the area’s critical importance to the world and the rapid political changes underway in the countries of the region, and he asserted that IPI has an “important role” to play there.

March 25, 2014
Adebajo, Panel Discuss African and African-American Nobel Peace Laureates
The ten Africans and three African-Americans who have won the Nobel Peace Prize comprise a complex group of peace leaders, said Adekeye Adebajo, Executive Director of Centre for Conflict Resolution, on March 25th. He spoke as part of a panel at the International Peace Institute’s launch of Africa’s Peacemakers, Nobel Laureates of African Descent, edited by Mr. Adebajo.

March 20, 2014
Ukraine Foreign Minister: Crisis is "Stress Test for the International Community"
“We are open to dialogue,” said Andriy Deshchytsia, acting Foreign Minister of Ukraine, at IPI in Vienna on March 20th. However, he noted, at this time, there is no communication between him and his Russian counterpart. “We need to talk,” he said.

View More