Fragile states are said to threaten international security by providing hospitable environments for transnational crime. “Failing states are inextricably linked to the increasing power of international criminal networks and ‘illegal’ economies,” the United Kingdom's Prime Minister's Strategy Unit contends. This connection makes intuitive sense: Weak regimes may lack the capacity or will to combat crime, while the corruption, insecurity, and weak rule of law found in many fragile states play to criminals' advantage. This chapter evaluates the connection between state weakness and transnational crime, paying special attention to six sectors of crime: narcotics production and trafficking; human trafficking; small arms trade; money laundering; environmental crime; and maritime piracy. It argues that the relationship between transnational crime and weak states is more complicated than popular mythology suggests.
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