The role of organised crime in contemporary conflicts

Since the beginning of the first decade of the 20th century, the links between armed conflicts and organised crime have been more evident. This is present in all stages of contemporary armed conflicts, and serves to increase levels of violence and makes it difficult to resolve such conflicts. Several types of criminal businesses are a source of extremely important finance for the armed groups participating in conflicts, especially non-state groups. The main criminal businesses that contribute to financing armed groups are the different activities related to exploiting natural resources, drug trafficking, trafficking cultural assets and people, among others.

Organized crime and its role in contemporary conflictIn September 2018, the platform with its headquarters in Geneva Global Initiative against Transnational Crime published a study in which it analysed this relationship between organised crimeand current conflicts. In this report, it was indicated how pacifying missions in general and deployments promoted by the United Nations Security Council have not only been unable to bear in mind the role played by the trafficking of assets and illegal services in armed conflicts, but also in some cases have unintentionally contributed to the proliferation of illegal business, by cooperating with criminal groups,to achieve peaceand by accepting their participation and influence in the new governments and emerging institutional structures of the conflict, and therefore also increasing demand for illegal products and activities.

The document stresses the importance of focusing on dynamics and interests that underlie criminal businesses when designing pacifying strategies, and also the importance of reinserting combatants in civil society to prevent these from continuing to be involved in criminal activities and, therefore, to ensure stability. For now, there are two United Nations missions in operation that focus on organised crime dynamics and their role in the armed conflict in question: The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated StabilisationMission in Mali (MINUSMA) and the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in DR Congo (MONUSCO).Both missions have reaffirmed the idea that the links between conflicts in these two countries and the whole region in general with organised crime are evident.

Although there is a very clear need, consensus to integrate activities to combat crime in pacifying actions on the part of the United Nations have been limited, mainly due to the lack of coordination between the pacifying forces and UN criminal justice authorities. The need to gain approval of UN actions from the governments of countries where the conflict is taking place makes it even more difficult to implement and coordinate effectively. In many cases, these actions are aimed at impeding access to natural resources that could be illegally exploited by violent groups, ignoring the fact that in some cases the most important political actors are the ones that have control of product trafficking and illegal services.

The study indicates an increase in the number of resolutions of the UN Security Council concerning organised crime. Between 2012 and 2017, over 60% of the resolutions were related to organised crime, a considerable figure if compared with resolutions that were linked to terrorism issues, about half. Hence, although terrorism is regarded as one the main threats to global security, if not the main one, the impact of organised crime is bigger. One quantative example is that in 2015 there were 328 terrorist-related deaths, whereas deaths related to criminal activities amounted to 256,500.

The document also determines that some conflicts are associated with a specific criminal activity, as may be the case with Somalia and piracy or Libya and people and migrant trafficking, although by far most conflicts are found to have dynamics involving a range of criminal activities, as is the case of Afghanistan, Sudan and South Sudan, the conflicts of Sahel, Mali, DR Congo, etc.What is clear is that organised crime (arms trafficking, drug trafficking, kidnapping, financial crime, people trafficking and trafficking wildlife) have become a very important component in all current conflicts, and much of the resulting violence caused by such illegal activities is related to confrontation to control the main resources and the most important routes for trafficking.

The dynamics underlying these activities are different in each context, but as a general framework, the lack of effective institutions leads to a lack of development and gives continuity to illegal business as a key economic activity. These activities, moreover, are becoming increasingly diverse.

The first steps that the report proposes to reduce the possibility that peace operations contribute to the emergence of criminal activities are:

  • An increase in the provision of resources for entities that are responsible for analysing criminal markets and their links with armed conflicts.
  • Analysis of the economic, political and social situation of the actors that control natural resources and routes for trafficking and their economic motivation.
  • Analysis of the dynamic of these markets.
  • Obtaining control of key strategic points like sources of natural resources of DR Congo, the gold mines of the Central African Republic, and the ports on the coast of Libya.
  • Establishing a UN mechanism comparable with the Global Strategy of the United Nations against terrorism to address organised crime.

You can consult the whole reporton the following link:


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Rate of perception of corruption

At the beginning of the year, Transparency International published the annual report of the rate of perception of corruption according to the country based on the opinions of citizens and a number of specialists, collectives and international organisations. Each country is assessed on a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is the maximum perception of corruption and 100 the minimum. The 2017 report was not really a source of surprises: levels of perception of corruption were similar to previous years, with few improvements. Two thirds of the 180 countries analysed were below 50 and the global average was lower, amounting to 43 points.

New Zealand, with a score of 89, topped the classification, after years in second position behind Denmark. On this occasion, however, the Pacific country has taken the lead. The ten top countries are still the usual ones, in this order: Finland, Norway, Switzerland, Singapore, Sweden, Canada, Luxemburg and the Netherlands.

On the other hand, if we start at the bottom, the country with the highest perception of corruption is Somalia, with a score below 10, followed by South Sudan, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea and North Korea.

Analysing the results on a regional scale, the difference between the regions with the highest scores (Western Europe) and the lowest (sub-Saharan Africa) is 35 points. The only region that exceeds 50 is Eastern Europe, with an average of 66 points. All the rest are below.


The regional average is 44 points, with big differences between countries. In the same region there are two countries that are in the top 10: New Zealand, first in the classification with a score of 89, and Singapore (84), along with Afghanistan, with only 15 points and is fourth from the bottom, and North Korea (17 points and twelfth).

Sub-Saharan Africa

This is the region with the lowest score (31), with only 5 countries with over 50 points and another five countries in the bottom 10 of the classification: Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Guinea-Bissau and Equatorial Guinea. Botswana tops the region’s classification with 61 punts, above Spain and Italy.

Middle East and North Africa

With an average score of 38, most of the region’s countries are below 50. A hallmark of the region is strong social control and numerous attacks on the freedom of speech. The country with the lowest perception of corruption was the United Arab Emirates (71), while Libya, Yemen and Syria are among the 10 countries in the world with the highest perception.


The region’s average is 44 points, although this is not a fair portrayal, as in the Asian Pacific there is a big difference between the country with the maximum and minimum perception. Canada, eighth country in the world with less perception of corruption, leads with 82 points, and Venezuela tails behind with a mere 18, making it the eleventh from the bottom of the classification.

Western Europe

Western Europe, with 7 countries in the top 10 with the least perception of corruption in the world, has the best average: 66. Denmark, with 88 points and behind only New Zealand, leads the region. Although all countries better the average and “pass”, Italy and Spain are noteworthy as the two countries with the highest perception in the region, with 50 and 57 points respectively.

Eastern Europe and Central Asia

This is the second lowest region (34) only ahead of sub-Saharan Africa and with only one country, Georgia, with 56 points to better the 50. The political structures of this region are still influenced by processes and wars linked to the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the old Yugoslavia. Turkmenistan is at the bottom of the classification with a score of 19.

Spain, with 57 points, is in 42nd position globally, equal to the Czech Republic, Cyprus and Dominica, and penultimate in the regional classification, ahead only of Italy. It is 14 points above the world average but 9 below the Western European average.

Complete document:


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Climate change: the forgotten threat?

patrick-hendry-534166-unsplash2017 was the hottest year in history, marked by heavy rainfall, droughts, strong winds and other extreme meteorological phenomena. Given this situation, some critics and academics warn politicians that progress towards a more sustainable future is being very slow. It is necessary to bear in mind that the devastating consequences of climate change are being suffered all over the world. According to Oxfam, between 2008 and 2016 an average of 21.8 million people were moved to other places to escape from the environmental conditions that had been created. Generally, the most affected people are those who are from countries with low standards of living, who are at five times more risk of being moved than people who live in countries with better standards of living.

While the International community was debating the implementation of the Paris Agreement (2015) at the United Nations, COP23 conference in Bonn, Trump announced United States withdrawal as an actor in the International fight against climate change. The President promised to reduce gas emissions, which amount to 20% of total emissions in the world, but its withdrawal from the agreement has meant a lack of commitment to reduce levels of pollution. The Trump administration has decided that climate change is no longer a threat to be discussed in the National Security Agenda. Luckily, most actors, a total of 197 signatories, who are part of the International community have continued to defend the initiative.

A study shows the positive correlation between climate change and high conflict levels. Climate change affects economic, political and security systems in global terms: it destabilises them and creates constant competition for natural resources. This phenomenon is considered a threat by those states that have a limited capacity to fight it. For example, energy from combustion fossil not only promotes climate change but also has an immediate effect: air contamination is the number 1 cause of death of all existing forms of contamination and was the cause of nearly 6.5 deaths in 2015. Contamination kills 15 times more people than war and all forms of violent conflict combined, according to the annual report of Munich Security Conference. We must not forget that over 20 countries, including France, the United Kingdom, Canada and Mexico, promised that they would achieve a gradual elimination of coal energy, which is a potent accelerator of climate change, but a sufficiently satisfactory result is yet to be demonstrated. The production of necessary energy will increase 30% in 2040, equivalent to adding another India or China to the production of energy at this moment.

Links of interest:


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The European Defence Union: the future of the Union or utopia?

On 26 June, European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS) published the 2018 yearbook, which presents the most relevant aspects in terms of security for the European Union, as well as the external activity of the union in neighbouring southern and eastern regions. The document chronologically reviews the main events that have taken place at international level that have affected the Union in one way or another, as well as recalling the several plans and strategies promoted by the European Union or by its different organs also in terms of collective security.

The yearbook is divided into three sections:

The first focuses on the external activity of the European Union in nearby regions like North Africa and the Middle East and explains its presence in diplomatic, financial and security terms everywhere. It reviews the relationship of the European Union with its different allies, like NATO, the African Union, the Gulf Cooperation Council, and others.

The second section reviews the activity and organisms of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), military operations and the different initiatives of the European Defence Agency.

In the third the links between several internal factors that affect the security of the Union are analysed, a paragraph focuses on the growing concern about cyber security, and finally tasks, objectives and the budget of different decentralised organisms of the Union are reviewed with specific functions related to security and defence.

In the publication, the need to strengthen the Union and relations between the countries that make it up is constantly stressed in order to be able to act as a power in the international panorama and address global phenomena that threaten security, not only in the Union, but also worldwide. According to the EUISS and the organs and institutions of the EU like the European Commission, internal and external cooperation is vital, both between the organs and countries of the Union and with the rest of the EU’s allies, in order to guarantee the continent’s continued security. The policy of cooperation and commitment has shown itself to be more effective than that of confrontation and isolation, and new initiatives are moving in this direction, as are the deployment of missions. Therefore, one of the main objectives is to continue working to strengthen relations between the several allies.

The trends of the representatives of the Union or of the governments of the countries that provide leadership has been to move towards, once again, unification in terms of security and defence. This was defended by Emmanuel Macron, in a conference at the Sorbonne, where he argued that the future of the EU involves having a common defence budget, a single performance policy and its own forces of intervention. Chancellor Angela Merkel also defended it, justifying that the European Union must have the necessary means to resolve its own conflicts and any uncertainties that may arise. Jean Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, also expressed his wish to have a fully fledged European Defence Union by 2025.

The speeches of the different leaders, along with the promotion of a range of plans regarding security and defence, give us clues that help to understand the future of the European Union, and what future priorities will be. We will still have to wait some time, however, to see if these current aspirations will be convincing, not only for member states but also, and especially, allies like the United States, or simply end up being ruled out and unheeded.

To consult the yearbook:


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Artificial security and defence intelligence of the European Union

According to the study published by the European Union Institute for Security Studies, in the coming years artificial intelligence (AI) will be present in almost all areas of daily life: communication, healthcare and even security and defence. 

In the area of defence, AI may be an opportunity and a threat at the same time. On the one hand, we have a lack of human perspective regarding the deployment of weapons, which may lead to violations of international norms related to the conduct of war. On the other hand, AI is seen as an improvement in decision-making in military procedures. The question here is the following: in a situation of tension and emotion, does AI add value or is it a handicap when making decisions? Will the EU miss the opportunity of intervening in the AI revolution?

However, developing a strategy of defence based on AI will depend on the attitude of the governments of each country. They will decide if it is necessary to invest enough capital in R+D and robot processes.

AI can be used as a tool aimed at CSDP (EU’S Common Security and Defence Policy) missions and operations, in phases of detection, preparation and detection.

In the first phase (detection), AI could allow the UE to gather information and data about geographically distant countries instead of sending technical personnel to the zone. Interpretation of the information could also be of interest, as it provides a broader vision of the conflict and of the dynamics of the crisis that the country or region is going through. This new phenomenon could help other organs of the EU, like SIAC (Single Intelligence Analysis Capacity), to fill the gap between detection and the first action. Moreover, AI would improve the detection of capacities at a technical level. For example, it could provide support for the choosing of localities to provide humanitarian aid, or to better locate where to set up refugee camps or identify water supplies, etc.

In the second phase (preparation), AI may have a significant role in decision-making processes by the CSDP. AI would be used to classify and prioritise policies in accordance with pre-programmed criteria and thereby allow legislators to have knowledge of more precise factors and costs. Therefore, AI can promote a better distribution of resources during missions and operations and also give the Security Policy Committee a broader vision of the crisis and its context. The study also speaks of other skills that this type of intelligence might offer. Like, for example, intervening in processes of recording of actions of individuals and terrorist groups, in which data is based on past actions, doctrines and/or strategies. In this phase, everything related to transport and aid is included, with the understanding that AI may be useful to create semi-autonomous vehicles to protect convoys sent to hostile territories, or NGO workers, healthcare personnel or diplomats.

In the third phase (protection), the main objective of AI will be to provide the EU with help in order to protect its personnel and improve their resistance when in action, in the case of CSDP military forces. Current research into this intelligence proves that in the technological field it has more possibilities to be used, with image sensors in dark or hostile zones, and to provide medical guidance for both human and robot doctors.

Current interest in this new discipline is gaining in importance as a counter measure to combat cybercrime, as this is on the increase. With AI, European personnel could be protected from misinformation campaigns (fake news, images, false videos…) and cyber-attacks.

Sources of information:


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Organised criminal groups and illegal activities in the technological age

On 28 February 2017, EUROPOL published the eighth edition of SOCTA (Serious and Organized Crime Threat Assessment), a report that was published from 2004 to 2009 and that has been published every four years since then. The document is not only descriptive, as it also anticipates the main and emerging threats posed by organised crime. In this edition, the role of new technologies is stressed in the development of organised criminal groups and the capacity that these have to adapt to technological innovation. The changes in structures and characteristics of criminal markets and the efforts made by criminals to avoid police authorities and the change in legislation have led to an increase in the sale of illegal goods and services via Internet.

In this latest edition of SOCTA, EUROPOL identifies the following criminal activities as the main threats posed by organised crime:

  • Cybernetic crime
  • Production, trafficking and Distribution of illegal drugs
  • Migrant trafficking
  • Organised crime against property
  • People trafficking (for forced labour, sexual exploitation and child trafficking)

Moreover, it points out three transversal illegal practices that have an important impact on highly serious criminal activities, previously mentioned.

  • Financial crime and capital laundering
  • Faking documentation
  • Online sale of illegal goods and services

The report also explores the links between organised crime and terrorism and stresses the need for cooperation between the police forces of different Union countries, both between them and with EUROPOL.

Moreover, it presents an external analysis of the current situation of organised criminal groups regarding different aspects and describes trends. In this respect, it stresses:

  • Over 5,000 groups of organised crime that operate internationally are now being investigated by the EU.
  • These groups are formed by members of over 180 different nationalities. 60% of the suspects of being involved in or belonging to organised criminal groups are, however, nationals of one of the Union countries.
  • Most of the criminal groups work within a hierarchical system.
  • Between 30% and 40% have a flexible and decentralised structure.
  • Approximately 20% of the groups of organised crime are created with one specific objective or to complement another criminal activity and exist only for a limited period of time, after which they dissolve.
  • 76% are made up of six or more than six members, while the remaining 24% are groups of fewer than six.
  • 7 out of every 10 of the organisations are active in more than 3 countries.
  • 45% of the organised criminal groups are engaged in more than one criminal activity at the same time. In this respect, the increase in demand for illegal goods and services during the migration crisis has favoured the diversification of criminal activities carried out by the same organisation. It is not peculiar that a feature of many of the organised criminal groups is flexibility of adaptation of illegal activities in accordance with market demands.
  • The number of criminals acting individually has increased. These, however, cooperate together to develop the business and maximise profits
  • Over 75% of the organised criminal groups engage in the production, trafficking and/or distribution of drugs, making this the criminal activity that most organisations are involved in. Other activities the organisations mainly engage in are crimes against private property, migrant trafficking, people trafficking (for forced labour, sexual exploitation and child trafficking) and excise fraud.
  • To facilitate criminal activities and to obtain information, corruption via the infiltration of members of groups of organised crime both in the public and private sector is a habitual practice.

Based on the results obtained and the conclusions of SOCTA 2017, the Council of Justice and the Ministries of the Interior of the European Union traced the lines of investigation and priority actions to fight against organised crime to address the second EU Policy Cycle (2018-2021), a plan established in 2010 and applied 3 years later with the aim of guaranteeing effective cooperation between actors involved in the fight against organised crime in different countries of the European Union and a scope of action aimed at the main threats affecting the Union.

Consult the whole report:


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The Commission on Youth Violence in England and Wales identify six key areas of intervention

Youth Violence Comission - Interim Report July 2018This commission’s provisional report (pending the definitive one that will be seen in autumn) prepared based on the results of the commission’s work until now (which includes surveys, interviews with young people who were affected, parents, police officers, social workers, community leaders and other experts) focuses on six key areas of intervention in order to address the causes underlying the use of violence by youths[1]. These are the following:

  1. Develop a national model of public healthcare. They ratify the principles followed in Scotland where the treatment of youth violence has been of an epidemiological nature (following the model of treatment of violence of the World Health Organisation). It is very important to point out that that this healthcare approach to the problem requires the whole system to integrate this cultural change and to have sufficient political consensus.
  2. It is necessary to focus on childhood years and on the earliest intervention possible. They have found evidence of the importance of childhood, sexual, emotional violence, abuse, neglect or growing up with parents addicted to drugs in the appearance of violent behaviour among youths and adolescents. Having lived or suffered violence during the first years of life makes them regard violence as something habitual and trivialise it (a not inconsiderable percentage of violent youths say they have felt unsafe at home).
  3. Reform the youth care service. This would involve the establishing of a national youth policy to serve as a framework, a review of the distribution of funds (an increase in the number of cases of childhood mental illnesses and disorderly behaviour has coincided with a reduction in finance made available for these services and too many projects have been financed on a short-term basis), such as fomenting interventions in religious groups. They believe that the so-called faith leaders (chaplains, clergymen, etc.) are in a position to make a positive contribution to the prevention of youth violence.
  4. Increase support for schools. It is necessary to try to reduce academic failure to zero. Students that are excluded from the educational system because of poor results show a much higher percentage of violent behaviour than those who complete their studies. They stress the relevance of reviewing how advice about curricular profiles is given to each child, about the teaching of sex-related issues and other related student habits and a better integration of a range of services to be found in schools (social workers, psychologists, etc.).
  5. Increase career opportunities. Schools should teach children skills and knowledge to gain them access to the labour market. Centres for the treatment of youths should increase the aspirations of youths and stop thinking that they can only aspire to poorly qualified jobs. An increase in learning resources available to young people would help them to break the cycle of unemployment that is frequently a family tradition.
  6. A stronger focus on community police strategies and a review of policies regarding the consumption of drugs. The report focuses on the questionnaire applied to young people showing that 46% of them would not turn to the police even if they were afraid of being the victims of a crime. It would be important for every centre of education to have a particular police officer as a point of reference for its students. It would also be necessary to bear in mind that young people that consume any kind of drug are much more prone to violent conduct.

[1] Vid.


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Belgium has seen a fall in its crime rate since 2011

“ Crime statistics are fundamental in order to reflect policies applied, but our interpretation of them is no less important. Working without data would mean working blindfold, but we cannot be blinded by data”. These aret he words of the General Commissioner, Marc De Mesmaeker[1]

Belgium’s federal police force published the 2017crime data last July;quantifying both attempted and completed crimes. There were a total of 860,604 incidents corresponding to a crime rate of 76 crimes per 1,000 inhabitants[2].

What do these figures explain?

Belgium has seen a steady drop in crime since 2011. For the 2007-2017 period, until 2012 the total number of crimes surpassed the million mark but from then until until 2017 the number of crimes committed has continually been below this figure.

2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
1.002.857 1.006.950 1.023.984 1.026.312 1063.271 1.040.233 997.805 977.514 920.490 888.735 860.604

This drop on crime has been qualified as a International Crime Drop[3]. It was initially detected in the United States especially regarding crimes against property and, more specifically, regarding homicide in the city of New York;this trend can also be observed in other Western countries. This is probably the result of the interaction of a range of factors: improvements in police techniques and strategies, the technological development of preventive measures, video surveillance, the cheapening of electronic consumer goods, the ageing population, the penalties applied…[4]

Excel Belgica angles

The top 5 total offences at a national level, in 2017[5]

Of a total of 41 major criminal typologies, the five most frequently committed in descending order are:

2011 2016 2017
Robberies and extorsions 451.716 330.895 313.006
Damage to property 123.759 83.304 80.398
Offences against physical integrity 90.130 79.001 77.859
Drugs 48.143 54.833 55.944
Fraud 39.344 41.900 40.921

Although overall figures indicate a a downward trend, the fact remains that some criminal typologies have show nan upward trens since 2011 and this can be seen in “the top 5 typologies”, more specifically drug-related offences and fraud which in 2017 amounted to total of 4.94 and 3,61cases per 1,000 inhabitants respectively. The report of police crime statistics in Belgium (2000-2017) previously mentioned, specifically dedicates part III, page. 45, to the computer-related crime, category that rises from 26,552 cases in 2011 to 43,800 in 2016 and 44.165 in 2017; meaning an increase of over65%.Among the categories that record a higher number of cases computer-related fraud involving credit and debit cards, Internet scams and cyber harrasment aret he most noteworthy.

For further information the following links can be consulted:

News items connected to the “ Security notes” blog:

“Notable drop in crime in Germany” published11 July 2018

“ The number of homicides plummets to record low figures in the city of New York” published 14 February 2018.

“The number of crimes recorded by the Ertzaintza continues to fall” published 20 November 2017

“Notable drop in crimes against property in Switzerland” published on 24 May 2017

“Reported crime in Spain fell by 1.2% in comparison with 2015” published on 22 March 2017

“Sustained drop in crime in Switzerland” published 15 June 2016


[2]The Belgian population on 1st January 2017 was 11,322,088 inhabitants. Source consulted:

[3]van Dijk, JJM, Tseloni, A, &Farrell, G (Eds.). (2012). The International CrimeDrop: New Directions in Research. Basingstoke: PalgraveMacmillan; Farrell: Five tests for a theory of thecrimedrop. CrimeScience 2013.

[4]àg 29.

[5]Police crime statistics. Belgium 2000-2017. Police fédérale – DGR/DRI/BIPOL. Statistics obtained with the help of Datawarehouse repository(closure date 23 April 2018).


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Since 2012, the economic impact of violence on the world has increased by 16%

This is the twelfth edition of the ’Global Peace Index (GPI), which encompasses 163 independent states and territories in accordance with their level of peace. The GPI is the main global measure of the world produced by the ’Institute of Economics and Peace (IEP). This report presents an integral analysis based on up-to-date data regarding trends in the area of peace, its economic value and the way it is developed within peaceful societies.

The GPI covers 99.7% of the world’s population, uses 23 qualitative and quantative indicators from highly respected sources and measure the level of peace based on three focal points: the level of security and the security of the society in question; the scope of continuity of internal and international conflicts, and the level of militarisation.

The results of the GPI in 2018 reveal that the global level of peace has deteriorated by 0.27 per cent over the last year, which means that it is the fourth consecutive year of deteriorating data. It went down in 92 countries, whereas 71 have improved.

The economic impact of violence increased by 2% in 2017 because of the increase in conflicts and the cost of internal security, with bigger increases in China, Russia and South Africa. Since 2012, the economic impact of violence has increased by 16%, coinciding with the start of the Syrian war and the increase in violence with the aftermath of the Arab Spring.

The average level of global peace has gone down for the fourth consecutive year and fell by 0.27% in 2017. The following are noteworthy world trends that led to these results:

  • The Middle East and the north of Africa were the world’s least peaceful regions. They have four of the ten least peaceful countries in the world.
  • Europe, the most peaceful region in the world since the start of the index, deteriorated for the third consecutive year, because of the increase in political instability, the impact of terrorism and the perception of crime.
  • In Europe, the referendum for the independence of Catalonia led to an increase in political tension, which caused Spain to fall ten places in the ranking. Fourteen European countries now have a higher internal conflict rating.
  • Military expenditure as a percentage of the GDP continued to fall, with 88 countries showing an increase as opposed to the 44 that showed a drop.
  • Since then, average military expenditure of a country has gone down slightly: from 2.28 per cent of the GDP to 2.22 per cent in 2018, with 102 countries that have spent less on the army as a percentage of their GDP over the decade.


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The terrorist threat to the EU continues to be high

The new report on the situation and evolution of terrorism in the EU, describes terrorist incidents and activities at a European level.

In 2017, 68 victims lost their lives as a consequence of terrorist attacks in the European Union (UE). Although the number of casualties went down last year compared with 2016, the number of attacks in Europe increased. The 2018 Europol report on the situation and terrorist trends (TE-SAT) provides a general vision of the nature of the terrorist threat faced by the EU in 2017.

New EU member states informed of a total of 205 thwarted, failed and successful attacks in 2017 (2016: 142). This means an increase of 45% compared with 2016 and a change to a downward trend that began in 2014.

These attacks killed 68 victims and left 844 wounded. Almost all the mortal casualties (62) were due to Jihadist attacks. The number of Jihadist attacks grew from 13 in 2016 to 33 in 2017.

975 individuals were arrested in the EU for crimes related to terrorism (2016: 1 002). Most of these arrests were related to Jihadist terrorism, suspected of having participated in some terrorist group activities; planning and preparing attacks; and facilitating activities like the dissemination of propaganda, recruitment and financing terrorism.

The report stresses some of the main trends:

Recent attacks by Jihadist terrorist have involved the following three formats:

  • They prefer to attack people, as opposed to other objectives, to provoke an emotional response from the general public (Paris, May 2018, Barcelona, ​​August 2017);
  • Attacks against symbols of authority (Liege, May 2018; Trèbes, March 2018);
  • Attacks against Western lifestyle symbols (Manchester, May 2017).
  • The new attacks in the EU by Jihadist terrorists that follow some of these patterns, or a combination of these, are more probable.
  • Apart from the increase in Jihadist attacks, their preparation and execution have become less sophisticated.
  • Jihadist terrorists often act alone, as the preparation could be self-directed or facilitated by their immediate social context.
  • Nevertheless, online propaganda and the creation of nodes via social networks are still essential mediums for recruiting, radicalising and raising money. Often rudimentary knowledge of Islam makes potential attackers vulnerable to influence and manipulation.
  • Recent jihadist attacks were mainly committed by domestic terrorists, radicalised without having travelled to join a terrorist group abroad. Among the wide variety of attackers, some were known to the police, but not because of terrorist activities, and most had no direct connection with any Jihadist organisation.
  • The degradation of the so-called organisational structures of Islamic State (IS) does not amount to a reduction in the Jihadist terrorist threat. Terrorist activities in the UE ordered, guided and inspired by IS, al-Qaeda and other Jihadist organisations continue to be a real possibility.


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