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  • In 2010, the fifth Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime identified cybercrime, identity-related crimes, trafficking in cultural property, environmental crime, piracy, organ trafficking, and fraudulent medicine as new and emerging crimes of concern.
  • The emergence of these new crime types gives rise to the need for law enforcement response to adapt its efforts and capacities accordingly.

Cyber Crime

  • Cybercrime is an emerging form of transnational crime. The complex nature of the crime as one that takes place in the borderless realm of cyberspace is compounded by the increasing involvement of organized crime groups.
  • Perpetrators of cybercrime and their victims can be in located different regions, and its effects can ripple through societies around the world, highlighting the need to mount an urgent, dynamic and international response.

Identity-related crime

  • All over the world, societies are increasingly reliant on identification information. Information about members of societies, stored as data, is used for banking, shopping, travelling and collecting social assistance.
  • Increasingly such information also includes biometrics and DNA profiles. The more that public and private sectors become computerized, the more avenues are available for organized criminals to exploit the vulnerabilities of those systems to commit identity-related crime.
  • Identity-related crime generates significant profits for criminals each year, with far-reaching impact not only on economies and online commerce, but also on individuals who fall victim to it.
  • Where identity information is obtained by criminals, it can be abused to launder money, to commit fraud and to enable illicit activity and irregular movement for organized crime purposes include human trafficking, migrant smuggling and even terrorism.
  • Millions of dollars can be stolen using false identification either in highly sophisticated single events, or as millions of smaller incidents. In the hands of unscrupulous criminal actors these criminal profits can be used to commit further crime.

Trafficking in cultural property | EMERGING TRANSNATIONAL ORGANIZED CRIMES

  • Cultural property is part of the common heritage of humankind. It so unique and important a testimony of the evolution and identity of peoples, that the importance of protecting it has been stressed in several international instruments.
  • Organized crime groups are increasingly involved in trafficking in cultural property, both through legitimate markets such as auctions and through the Internet, but also in underground illicit markets.
  • Trafficking in cultural property is also becoming an important source for the laundering of the proceeds of crime.
  • Illegal trafficking of cultural property results in its loss, destruction, removal and theft of irreplaceable items. While criminals make significant illicit profits from trafficking cultural property, humankind is denied access to the artifacts of its shared heritage.
  • For instance, many relics from past generations remain buried underground. Where ancient artifacts are stolen and the sites in which they were hidden are destroyed through looting, archaeologists are unable to gather knowledge about the past.
  • A substantial amount of looting happens around the world, and yet, so far the efforts to combat trafficking in cultural property have not yet been in proportion to the gravity and extent of the crime.

Environmental crime

  • In some parts of the world, large-scale poaching and illegal logging pose a major threat to wildlife and forests. Today, 50% of the world’s species are facing the fastest man-made mass extinction.
  • Given the diversity of locations where poaching, harvesting, transit, purchase, and consumption of wildlife occurs, illicit trafficking in endangered species is a transnational crime. Countries can be affected either at source, transit or destination points.
  • Wildlife crime threatens national security and may endanger human and domestic livestock health through the spread of virulent diseases.
  • Trafficking in natural resources such as timber generates billions of dollars in criminal revenues annually and contributes to deforestation, loss of species and their habitats, and contributes to climate change and rural poverty.
  • Organized criminal syndicates are moving poached or illegally harvested wildlife with the help of the same sophisticated techniques and networks used for illicit trafficking in persons, weapons, and drugs and other contraband.
  • There are many challenges posed by the poaching and illicit trafficking of wildlife including the involvement of number of related crimes such as fraud, counterfeiting, money-laundering, violence and corruption.


  • Piracy off the Horn of Africa has become an increasingly serious problem over the last years. The lack of rule of law in Somalia, which has been without an effective central government since 1991, has provoked a surge of hijackings and piracy in the region.
  • Recent years have seen an increased number of attacks, with pirates becoming more organized and more aggressive as they arm themselves with a higher grade of weapons.
  • The methods of pirates, with the use of ‘mother ships’ on which they can be based, allow them to hijack larger vessels over bigger distances, hundreds of kilometres off the coast. Piracy is increasingly linked to other forms of organized crime, given the sophisticated intelligence collection networks and systematic corruption of local officials.
  • Meanwhile, piracy is a key source of income for many communities, who receive funds from ransoms that their own governments fail to provide.
  • Beyond the immediate impact on victims of pirate attacks, there are a number of serious indirect consequences of this organized crime. Piracy is not only fuelled by lack of governance, but in turn perpetuates lack of security, economic disempowerment and undermines rule of law, not only in Somalia but now also regionally and globally.
  • Humanitarian aid deliveries to Somalia are disrupted and shipping insurance premiums increase to near-prohibitive levels, which, in turn, interfere with trade and damage economies, and increase the possibility of environmental disasters.
  • The international community has recognized that what happens within the jurisdictions of failed States has repercussions far beyond its borders, highlighting both the transnationality of piracy and the need for States to cooperate to ensure stability, development and an effective criminal justice system in Somalia.
  • In the meantime, assistance in the investigation and prosecution of suspected pirates is critical in order to avoid these crimes being treated with impunity.

Organ trafficking

  • The transplantation of healthy organs into persons whose own organs have failed, improves and saves thousands of lives every year. But demand for organs has outstripped supply, creating an underground market for illicitly obtained organs.
  • Desperate situations of both recipients and donors create an avenue ready for exploitation by international organ trafficking syndicates. Traffickers exploit the desperation of donors to improve the economic situation of themselves and their families, and they exploit the desperation of recipients who may have few other options to improve or prolong their lives.
  • Like other victims of trafficking in persons, those who fall prey to traffickers for the purpose of organ removal may be vulnerable by virtue of poverty, for instance.
  • One factor that is distinct in this form of trafficking in persons is the profile of culprits; while some may live solely from criminal trafficking activities, others may be doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers and health care professionals who are involved in legitimate activities when they are not participating in trafficking in persons for the purpose of organ removal.
  • The transnational organized crime syndicates are involved in trafficking people for the purpose of organ removal and the organs themselves. The Trafficking in Persons Protocol supplementing the Transnational Organized Crime Convention includes trafficking in persons for the purpose of organ removal. EMERGING TRANSNATIONAL ORGANIZED CRIMES


Internal security

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