The Historical Evolution of the International Cooperation against Transnational Organised Crime

An Overview

Frank G. Madsen


Transnational cooperation in the fight against organised crime is an inextricable part of the development of international criminal police cooperation as such. Its theoretical particularity arises from the definitional opaqueness of the subject matter, organised crime, while its empirical difficulty is linked to the complexity inherent in law enforcement and judicial cooperation on an international level. Academically, the subject is located in the intersection of two disciplines, international relations and criminology.[1]

After brief theoretical considerations of the concept of organised crime, this chapter surveys one of the earliest transnational crimes, piracy. It is observed that from the outset the crimes now making up the international prohibition regime were either sponsored or at least tacitly allowed by governments. Apart from piracy, examples are also provided by trafficking in narcotics and in humans. In the 1880s the overlapping spheres of local politics and prostitution led a New York judge to describe the governance of New York City as ‘a noctivagous strumpetocracy’.[2] A final section of the chapter considers harmonization within the framework of World Society Theory and notes that its core concept of rationalization in the form of technological development remains crucial for the development of law enforcement cooperation.[3]

A number of scholars see the development of international criminal police cooperation as a worrying lack of governance accountability. It is worth recalling Joseph Fouche, who in 1824 wrote that the power of the police lies in the general belief in its omnipotence and omnipresence.[4] It is only too clear, at least to practitioners, that the police is neither omnipotent nor omnipresent.

  • [1] Peter Andreas and Ethan Nadelmann, Policing the Globe: Criminalization and Crime Control inInternational Relations, Oxford and New York, Oxford University Press, 2006, p. viii.
  • [2] Timothy J. Gilfoyle, City of Eros: New York City, Prostitution, and the Commercialization of Vice1790-1920, New York, W. W. Norton, 1992.
  • [3] Anja P. Jakobi, Common Goods and Evils? The Formation of Global Crime Governance, Oxford, OxfordUniversity Press, 2013.
  • [4] Joseph Fouche, Memoires de Joseph Fouche, Duc d’Otrante, Ministre de la Police Generale, Paris, Jeande Bonnot, 1986 (1824), p. 373.
< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >