United Nations vs transnational
organized crime: a glimpse of
Frank G. Madsen
Centre of Development Studies, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
Purpose –The purposeof this paper is threefold; ﬁrst, to show the role played by the United Nations (UN) in
the ﬁght against transnational organized crime; second, to analyze two subject areas, commercial sexual
exploitationof children and mutilation of albinos, in which the Organization givesvoice to the often voiceless
victims; andthird, to examine the role the UN may or should be called on to play in the postulated cooperation
between high-levelinvestigative means and personnel on the ground.
Design/methodology/approach –The paper relies on information generated by international
organizations(Red Cross and UN) and media reports.
Findings –Although commercial sexual exploitation of children in many if not most advanced jurisdicitions is
a crime with extraterritorial jurisdiction in the sense that perpetrator can be tried in, say, an advanced country for
violations in a developing country, and considering that this crime has a strong international component, it has
proved difﬁcult to investigate. This is caused by the procedural difﬁculties in collecting proofsin one jurisdiction
for use in another, transport of victims and witnesses, etc. Therefore, among many other measures, advanced
countries should further tighten the investigation of so-called sex tourism clearly targeting children. Mutilation of
persons with albinism is strongly linked to superstitionand although often involving international trade, must be
strongly countered by information. Again the UN plays and shouldplay a leading role.
Research limitations/implications –Research in these and similar areas is quite obvioushindered by
the so-called “dark number syndrome”,i.e. as the subject-matter is both illegal and the target of strong moral
condemnation,it is difﬁcult to get more than a small, hopefully representative,set of cases to examine.
Practical implications –Advanced countriesmust assist in limiting and hopefully stopping the overseas
sex tourism involving underage individuals. Also, through the UN, the only moral arbiter we have, the
international community shouldassist in informing and teaching, in particular, in the countries around the
big lakes in Africa and in Malawito bring to an end this kind of superstition. Likewise, the UN should act as a
bridge, allowingsophisticated investigative means to linkup with less sophisticated ones, in particularin the
area of abuse of theenvironment (pachyderms in Africa and protected ﬁsheriesbreeding grounds).
Social implications –From the previous paragraph, it is obvious, so it seems, that at least the commercial
sexual exploitation of children and the mutilation of albinos can only be countered though a conscious effort at
training aimed at the social layers –mostly in rural areas –where both superstition (albinos and brains of bald
males) and the habitual view of children, in particular, but not only girls, as a source of income are prevalent.
Originality/value –The paper doesnot attempt to present original material. Ratherit emphasizes the role
of the UN in protecting the unprotected and promotes ideas with whichto commence pushing back against
the serious destructionof animals, including ﬁshes.
Keywords United Nations, Albino-mutilation, Child-sex exploitation, Illegal ﬁsheries,
Pachyderm destruction, Transnational organized crime
Paper type Case study
CSEC = Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children;
GA = General Assembly (United Nations);
Journalof Financial Crime
Vol.26 No. 2, 2019
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