eSeminar - Organized Crime, Corruption & Peacebuilding

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The impact of organized crime and corruption on peacebuilding processes is a subject of increasing international concern. As organized crime has become globalized, it has come to effect a wide range of activities, including the maintenance of peace and security. In some negotiated transitions, the influence of organized crime on stability, governance, and development is a reality that the international community must contend with during conflict resolution and peacebuilding efforts.

Structural contexts of war, peace, and insecurity transform and set moral terrains for identity formation, livelihood strategies, and codes for moral agency. In places like Columbia, Myanmar, and Afghanistan, labour-intensive illicit economies (drug cultivation, illicit mining or logging) have sustained the livelihoods of many impoverished communities who possess no viable alternatives. Likewise, in countries such as El Salvador and Honduras, entering the “criminal economy” can be the only means of survival. Peacebuilding efforts dealing with organized crime and corruption must be calibrated to the local socio-economic context that originally enabled this criminal activity.

As much remains to be understood about the relationship between organized crime, corruption and peacebuilding, it is important to explore how international organizations and key stakeholders can intervene to help eliminate, or reduce the impact of, criminal agendas. This was the central question addressed at the seventh instalment of the Centre for Security Governance’s eSeminar series on “**Contemporary Debates on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding**”, presented in collaboration with the Balsillie School of International Affairs and Wilfrid Laurier University’s Department of Global Studies. Our distinguished panelists gave brief introductory remarks, followed by an open Q&A period where participants were to engage the panel directly.


Geoff Burt is the Executive Director of the Centre for Security Governance (CSG). He served as the Deputy Director of the CSG from 2013 to 2016. He was co-founder and Vice President of the Security Governance Group (SGG) from 2012 to 2016 and remains an SGG Senior Associate. Prior to joining the CSG, Geoff Burt was a researcher at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), and a member of CIGI’s Security Sector Governance project. Geoff is an experienced researcher and project manager whose work has focused on security sector reform, transnational organized crime, migration and counter human trafficking, with an emphasis on fragile and conflict-affected countries. Geoff is the Editor-in-Chief of Stability: International Journal of Security and Development.

Dr Sasha Jesperson is the Director of the Centre for the Study of Modern Slavery at St Mary’s University Twickenham. Before coming to St Mary’s, Sasha was leading research on organised crime at the Royal United Services Institute, working closely with government departments to ensure that research is useful for strengthening policymaking on organised crime. Her research background is on organised crime and particularly the role of development is preventing and responding to criminal activity.

Sasha completed her PhD at the London School of Economics. Her research examined international initiatives to address organised crime through peace building missions under the framework of the security-development nexus, comparing examples from Sierra Leone and Bosnia. Sasha also completed an MSc in Human Rights at the London School of Economics and worked for Amnesty International for three years, primarily focusing on human rights in conflict and post-conflict contexts.

John de Boer is Managing Director of SecDev Group. He was formerly a Senior Policy Adviser with the UNU Centre for Policy Research (UNU CPR). Mr. de Boer is an expert on development, humanitarian, and security challenges in situations of conflict and violence. At UNU-CPR he leads research that identifies and responds to the multiple dimensions of vulnerability in urban contexts. This includes research that tackles specific challenges related to urban violence, urban disaster, and organized crime.

Prior to joining UNU-CPR, Mr. de Boer was the Program Leader for Governance, Security, and Justice at the International Development Research Centre in Canada. He has also worked at the Canadian International Development Agency where he served on the Afghanistan and Pakistan Task Force and with the Agency’s Office for Democratic Governance. He is a Research Associate with the Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, and a Fellow in Diplomatic Affairs at the University of San Francisco’s Center for the Pacific Rim. He has been a Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University and has taught at the University of California, Berkeley. Mr. de Boer holds a PhD in Area Studies from the University of Tokyo.

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