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Security in the Face of Globalization

October 16, 2012

1. The global community – private and public – needs to implement a tracking system for weapons and ammunition.

‘While it is possible to track even a bottle of water across the globe and its value chain, weapons and ammunition are still moving out of the sight of state authorities.’

The presence of weapons and ammunition is pivotal in most of the criminal activities that public authorities are concerned about – and certainly in those that cost most lives. Imported weapons and ammunition are used in a majority of incidents.

An effective tracking system for the major producers of weapons and ammunition would be a vital step towards eradicating trans-border arms trafficking, thereby contributing to depriving many criminal activities of one of their most important resources.

The global community – including public authorities, but also manufacturers and other private stakeholders – needs to implement a tracking system for weapons and ammunition.

Each individual state has the responsibility to close its borders for incoming and outgoing illicit arms and ammunition trade. Border protection against weapons and ammunition should be a priority among agencies involved in fighting crime.

2. The global community – countries or states – needs to agree on a treaty that nails down benchmarks for crime against which countries can be held responsible. The treaty should also encompass provisions for knowledge, technology and best practice transfer across countries.

A multitude of public and private crime-fighters all over the world have developed a thorough understanding of the process of fighting crime: they know what does and doesn’t work. To enable these crime-fighters to learn from one another, it is vital that there is transfer of best practices throughout the world – crime should be added to the list of topics where countries cooperate.

Knowledge transfer could easily be institutionalized in an international treaty, which in addition could include benchmarks that make it possible to measure the success of each country. Such a ‘Maastricht treaty on crime’ would specify criteria against which the success of courts, prosecutors and courts in all signatory states could be measured, just as the EMU’s Maastricht treaty specifies fiscal criteria.

3. Prosecution bodies and courts need to shift their focus towards problem-solving instead of exclusively law enforcement.

Courts throughout the world increasingly shift their self-image from judiciary bodies to problem-solving bodies. More and more specialized courts (e.g. on drugs, domestic violence, guns etc.) do not focus on accusation only but address the issues that brought offenders to court in the first place, while at the same time still holding them accountable.

That same shift has begun with prosecution bodies. The first examples show that shifting towards a more holistic approach in terms of stakeholders, while at the same time specializing with respect to topic, enhances both efficiency and efficacy of prosecution. Jail is often the worst not the best answer.

4. Military and other public safety forces need to operate showing restraint and discretion in a precise, principled manner, as postulated by the ‘strong and helping hand’ approach adopted in Brazil.

Force alone is not suitable for fighting crime; a more holistic strategy has to be adopted to fight the roots of crime, such as deficiencies in education, health or nutrition. If necessary, force has to be used in a targeted manner and only after long-term planning.

‘Pen and mind have done more than any weaponry, and at the same time a strong arm can not only use force, but it can also lift.’

5. Public authorities need to cooperate with private stakeholders in public-private partnerships to fight crime effectively and at the same time curb costs.

To pursue a more holistic approach, military and police forces need to involve private stakeholders, for example in public-private partnerships. Governments cannot bear the financial burden alone: crime fighting has become an expensive undertaking.

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Kathrin Kupke