There are many definitions of organised crime. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has developed a general definition: Organized crime is a continuing criminal enterprise that rationally works to profit from illicit activities that are often in great public demand. Its continuing existence is maintained through corruption of public officials and the use of intimidation, threats or force to protect its operations. Under the UN Convention on Transnational Organised Crime, ‘serious crime’ refers to offences punishable by a penalty of incarceration for at least four years.1 Common examples of serious organised crime are modern slavery, human trafficking, money laundering, illegal drugs, illegal arms, fraud and other economic crime. This review looks at drivers and enablers of serious organised crime (SOC) in Southeast Asia. The four main forms of SOC in the region are: a) illicit drugs; b) human trafficking and migrant smuggling; c) environmental crimes (e.g. illegal logging, wildlife trade); and d) counterfeit goods. While the situation in each country is different, and there are many country-specific factors involved in SOC in Southeast Asia, the review identified a number of common issues relevant across many countries in the region. For some of these the literature makes a direct correlation with SOC (e.g. expansion of the internet), but for others this correlation is not clearly established: rather, the literature indicates that countries with high levels of SOC have these features.
What are the predominant drivers and enablers of serious organised crime (SOC) in Southeast Asia? How have these developed and how are they connected to the political, social and cultural dynamics of the region? Focus on Thailand, Viet Nam, the Philippines, Myanmar and Cambodia.