Scholars Tackle Transnational Crime and Corruption Policy
Human trafficking, drug trade, police reform, and corporate graft were among the diverse topics debated and discussed by ten up-and-coming scholars at the 2012 IREX/WWC Regional Policy Symposium, "Transnational Crime and Corruption in Eastern Europe and Eurasia." Transnational criminal networks, and the domestic corruption that feeds them, represent one of the major foreign policy challenges facing the United States today. The Symposium showcased findings that directly address these critical issues - drawn from on-the-ground research spanning the region, from Bosnia to Afghanistan.
Highlights of the presentations included:
• Trafficking in persons across the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border is used mainly to address drug debts, not generate profit, making it unusual among cases of human trafficking.
• Over the last decade, threats to businesses in Russia from the private sector have decreased, while state threats have grown.
• The government in the Republic of Georgia has cleaned up everyday bribery, but corruption to boost political power is still widespread.
Hosted jointly by IREX and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in late April, the event brought the scholars together with senior specialists from academia and government for two days of intensive collaboration. The multidisciplinary nature of the Symposium enabled the participants to see their own work from fresh angles, receiving insights from peers and experts who had examined similar topics from different perspectives. “The Symposium gave me the opportunity to present my research findings in a small setting where feedback was given in a critical but supportive fashion,” commented Yoomie Huynh, who spoke about her research on human trafficking in Tajikistan and Afghanistan.
A defining feature of the Symposium is the opportunity it gives rising scholars to directly connect with the policy community. During an analytic exchange event at the U.S. Department of State, the scholars were able to network with more than 80 U.S. government representatives, while policymakers and foreign policy analysts had the chance to gain direct access to researchers with on-the-ground experience in their areas of focus. After sharing her findings with Department of State officials and others working directly on policies and projects related to her research on corruption in Bosnia, participant Amra Sabic-El-Rayess remarked how the Regional Policy Symposium created a venue for distinctive interaction between the academic and policymaking communities.
If you would like to learn more about the research presented at the 2012 Regional Policy Symposium, please explore the scholars’ research summaries.