Addressing illicit trafficking through a crime convergence lens: Towards a model for cross-border cooperation in Africa

Release date: 2021-11

Scholars and practitioners alike have found illicit cross-border flows—from drugs to wildlife and weapons—to converge and reinforce each other while often being embedded in large transnational criminal networks. However, practitioners still lack the tools and guidance to effectively combat these links in an integrated fashion. Cross-border cooperation initiatives across Africa are in a unique position to mitigate illicit trafficking, and yet, there is no conceptual model that could guide initiatives in doing so. This Knowledge Note seeks to bridge this gap in the context of BICC’s small arms control work in Africa. It provides an initial selection of six building blocks (I-VI) that could structure and guide our future work on cross-border cooperation to reduce the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons (SALW) and ammunition in East Africa and beyond. The proposed model brings together a review of practice and policy advice on different illicit flows, thus showing how they are connected. It embraces the opportunity to put on a broader lens and look beyond the realm of arms trafficking. Across the six building blocks, the willingness of all actors to engage in long-term, sustainable and evidence-based cooperation as well as to ensure political buy-in at all levels seem crucial for cross-border efforts to be effective. Follow-up engagements and testing in the field are to refine this desk study’s initial model.