Countering Convergence: 'Central Authorities' and the Global Network to Combat Transnational Crime and Terrorism
Air and Space Power Journal - Afrique & Francophonie, 1st Quarter 2016
6 Pages Posted: 2 Mar 2015 Last revised: 15 Mar 2016
Date Written: March 10, 2015
In an increasingly unstable world order, there has never been a greater need for international cooperation in the fight against transnational crime and terrorism. The operations of non-state armed groups, terrorists, and transnational criminal organizations are increasingly global in scope. Moreover, as recent events have demonstrated, such groups are increasingly lethal, increasingly disruptive, increasingly destabilizing. What is also becoming increasingly apparent, however, is that effective cooperation against such groups requires much development in what is called, in international development parlance, “the justice sector.” While justice sector development easily calls to mind images of police training and educational initiatives for lawyers or judges in the developing world, there is another sort of national institution that serves as a necessary prerequisite to effective international cooperation in the fight against transnational criminality: the “Central Authority.”
Central Authorities, the national entities responsible for mutual legal assistance and extradition, are the engines for international cooperation under the modern international legal framework and are essential to effective cooperation among international law enforcement authorities.
Central Authorities breathe life into the treaty framework by operationalizing these international instruments. Many UN treaties, in fact, such as the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) expressly call upon member states to designate Central Authorities in their government for just this purpose. Needless to say, in situations where the requested state is unwilling or unable to afford assistance, no treaty will prove effective. And states will generally be unable to offer assistance without the correct institutional architecture in place. This creates a recurring problem vis-à-vis international cooperation in the developing world, where even the most basic national institutions are challenged, yet where the threats posed by transnational criminal groups and terrorist organizations are most acute.
This article argues that the international community must, therefore, devote more attention to Central Authority development in critical regions such as the Middle East, North Africa, and the Sahel. The engines which give life to the international treaty framework must be built, serviced, and properly maintained. Otherwise, efforts to address transnational crime and terrorism through a rule of law framework will remain stymied.
Keywords: terrorism, international, international cooperation, extradition, mutual legal assistance, ISIS, Islamic State, counterterrorism, transnational, transnational crime, Central Authorities, 2178
JEL Classification: K14, K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation