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World Bank: Forests Fragility and Conflict

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by Douglas Farah
Published on April 1st, 2013

This chapter addresses the role of organized crime and commodity trafficking in facilitating armed conflict and producing cycles of protracted violence that persist in postconflict countries. It does so by looking at three case studies that demonstrate the different factors that drive conflicts and postconflict violence.

After presenting a theoretical framework — of positive and negative state influence, the vital role of the criminalized state and transnational criminal substate actors, and the role of nonstate actors — it examines the social networks required at different nodes of the commodity chain. Such networks rely first on traditional elites to act as “local fixers,” supplying the criminal state or nonstate armed actor with connections to the market and financial networks needed to extract and sell the commodity. These local fixers rely on “super fixers” to supply transport and war materiel, as well as to connect them to international “shadow facilitators” who can move weapons and commodities, launder money, and obtain the fraudulent international documents needed.

It then uses the three case studies to argue that transnational organized crime networks for trafficking commodities, specifically timber, can emerge in diverse circumstances of state strength — and state absence — that lead to cycles of violence. In Liberia a strong but criminalized state looted the marginalized, resource-rich rural areas, while in the timber-rich Petén region of northeastern Guatemala, and in forested areas of Colombia, criminal nonstate armed actors have operated in subnational territories mostly beyond state control.

Read the full chapter here: Download file Transnational Crime, Social Networks and Forests

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