This conclusion reviews the Special Issue’s perspective on organized crime as both potential ‘enemy’ and ‘ally’ of peace processes. The social and economic power wielded by organized crime is highlighted, pointing to the role that peace operations play as an intervening variable between individuals/communities and the environments in which they operate. Peace operations use a range of tactics, from coercion to co-option, working with or against organized crime. However, these tactics will only be successful if they are framed within a coherent strategy, which may pursue either containment or transformation- or seek to combine them- through a phased transitional strategy. Peace operations should be a key component in a broad strategy of intelligent international law enforcement.
Peace operations are increasingly on the front line in the international community’s fight against organized crime. In venues as diverse as Afghanistan, the Balkans, Haiti, Iraq and West Africa, multiple international interventions have struggled with a variety of protection rackets, corruption and trafficking in a wide range of licit and illicit commodities: guns, drugs, oil, cars, diamonds, timber – and human beings. This introduction to the Special Issue on peace operations and organized crime discusses the concept of ‘organized crime’ as a label, and suggests ways of differentiating organized crime groups on the basis of their social governance roles, resources and strategies towards authority structures – such as peace operations.