October 27, 2021
Overview: Namibia, bordering the South Atlantic Ocean in Southern Africa, is rich in natural resources from diamonds and uranium to fish and zinc. Its middle-income status belies high socioeconomic inequalities and corruption, the latter from the micro level up to national and transnational dealings. TraCCC’s Community Solutions Program (CSP) Fellow, Allen Muketela, presented an overview of corruption in Namibia, including in the realm of natural resources and the impact of graft on equitable development.
Date and Time
October 27, 2021
1:30 to 3:00 PM, EST
Allen Muketela is a 2021-22 Fellow from Namibia in the Community Solutions Program (CSP), a U.S. Department of State sponsored leadership and exchange program implemented by IREX that brings early- to mid-career changemakers between 25-38 years of age and from over 90 countries. TraCCC is pleased to be Allen’s virtual CSP Practicum host. His practicum focus is on the nexus of corruption and equitable development in his country, particularly in the Zambezi region. Allen was one of the founders of a prior youth initiative, the Zambezi Anti-Corruption movement. He’s an entrepreneur and experienced facilitator and career guidance and financial literacy mentor for junior and secondary schools.
A. Alonso Aguirre: Department Chair & Professor, Environmental Science and Policy, GMU (discussant)
Shaazka Beyerle: Senior Fellow at TraCCC (facilitator)
October 14, 2021
TITLE: Will Central America be our next Afghanistan?
DATE: October 14, 2021
TIME: 12:00 – 13:30 p.m.
- Louise Shelley – Director, Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center University Professor, Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University.(moderator)
- Adriana Beltran – Executive Director of Seattle International Foundation.
- Stephen McFarland – Former US Ambassador to Guatemala and Coordinator of Rule of Law and Enforcement in Kabul, Afghanistan.
- Claudia Escobar Mejía – Distinguished Visiting Professor, Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University. Executive Director of Be Just NGO.
Continued instability and insecurity in Central America are destabilizing the region with some states veering towards authoritarian rule and criminalized markets. Pervasive kleptocracy, violent organized crime, and illicit economies across Central America have eroded the rule of law, stymied sustainable development, heightened poverty, diverted critical resources from financing economic growth, infrastructure modernization, and broader prosperity, while fueling an array of cross-border security threats across the region. Such actions have worsened during the pandemic and now pose greater threats to U.S. national security and international community as corrupt power elites and criminal networks contribute to surges in migration and undermine legitimate commerce, trade, and the economy through extortion, the trafficking of drugs, weapons and counterfeits, human trafficking and smuggling.
The Panelists comparatively discussed the similarities and differences between the situation in Afghanistan and the countries of Central America in relation to corruption, institutional weakness (especially in the judiciary), organized crime, violence against women and human rights. The role of the international community is indispensable to help develop more effective regional security approaches and solutions. Such actions will help to prevent the region from further destabilization adverse to the interests of the United States and international community and in countering the corruptive influence of kleptocrats, organized criminals and drug trafficking networks.
September 30, 2021
Overview: Beneficial ownership transparency (BOT) is emerging as an important policy tool for curbing corruption and stemming illicit financial flows – including flows connected to natural resources. Experts on this virtual panel highlighted the rapidly changing landscape around beneficial ownership regulations and the importance of beneficial ownership information for improving conservation outcomes. Panelists discussed good practices for regulation development and how collaborations with law enforcement and financial institutions can advance needed reforms.
Date and Time
September 30, 2021
9:00 AM to 10:30 AM, EST
Michele Kuruc, J.D.: Vice President, Ocean Policy, WWF-US
Elise Bean: former Staff Director & Chief Counsel, U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations
Sol Krause (tbc): Crime Prevention & Criminal Justice Officer, Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative, World Bank/UNODC
Louise Russell-Prywata: Director of Policy and Programmes, Open Ownership
Dr. Louise Shelley: Director, TraCCC, and Professor at the Schar School of Policy and Government, GMU (Moderator)
July 26, 2021
Putting a Price on the Priceless
Putting a Price on the Priceless: Measuring the Illicit Antiquities Trade in Data and Dollars
This year, the G20 has prioritized the protection of cultural heritage and the prevention of illicit trafficking, holding a historic Ministerial Meeting in Rome on July 29 and 30.
As heads of state and government turn a global spotlight on the illicit trade in cultural property, it is more important than ever that policymakers and law enforcement fully understand the problem. But how can we quantify looting, smuggling, and related crimes? What data sources can be used? Is absence of evidence actually evidence of absence? What harm is caused by cultural racketeering beyond a dollar amount—to the legitimate art market, global security, and human rights?
Top experts came together to discuss these questions and more during a live webinar on July 26. Co-sponsored by the Antiquities Coalition and George Mason University’s Terrorism, Transnational Crime, and Corruption Center (TraCCC), the webinar was attended by more than 150 individuals from around the world.
Speakers including Louise Shelley, Layla Hashemi, Neil Brodie, and Ute Wartenberg covered the direct and indirect effects of the illicit trade in a panel moderated by Patrick Costello.
Key Takeaways included:
- Illicit Trade Thrives In Unstable Environments: Looting and trafficking pose major problems to fragile states with a weak peace and security balance. Finding a resolution to such post-conflict situations proves extremely difficult. Hashemi argued that proceeds from illegal antiquities fuel terrorism and conflict and converge with global problems of corruption, drug and weapon trading, and money laundering, all of which pose large financial revenue opportunities for criminals.
- Free Ports Are Playground For Illicit Market: With false documentation and forged records, free ports are a breeding ground for antiquities trafficking. Used as large, tax free warehouses for storing art, often with no source or ownership history, such free ports are used as key transit points between the origin of looted antiquities and their entrance into the global market without provenance.
- Coin Sales are a Key Element of the Antiquities Market: The scale of coin sales online has grown significantly in recent years and represents a large share of the market sales in both volume and revenue. As Wartenberg noted, the coin market is largely open access. Coin sales were not included in the figures included in the Rand Report title “Tracking and Disrupting the Illicit Antiquities Trade with Open Source Data” although they were discussed.
- Market Analysis Should Extend to Sites On the ground and On the web: If research is done into the money made from individual on-the-ground archaeological sites as well as digital marketplaces like Etsy, eBay, or Facebook, efforts to find the exact value of the illicit art trade could be more constructive. The democratization of the market and a rise in e-commerce has led to a significant increase in online sales. The consequent flood of information on the market requires the use of advanced data analytics to assess the value of the trade.
- More Research Into Illicit Market is Needed: Brodie argued that general research into the market is lacking as a result of deficient funding and a limited pool of fields doing the research. Research should be composed of a variety of methodologies and should be multidisciplinary, including not just archeologists but other fields and sectors. Data analysis of online markets is key in approximating the scale of the trade, the actors involved and the dynamics of the market according to Hashemi.
- Data Analysis as the Basis of Policy: Shelley argued that unless we understand the dimensions of the market, the modes of sale and the key facilitators, we cannot develop effective policies to address the problem of smuggled antiquities.
Learn more about the panelists’ research on antiquities trafficking and looting in the forthcoming Routledge edited volume Antiquities Smuggling in the Real and Virtual World (January 2022).