The Transnational Gang: Challenging the Conventional Narrative

Authored by: Robert Muggah

The Ashgate Research Companion to Regionalisms

Print publication date:  January  2012
Online publication date:  March  2016

Print ISBN: 9780754677628
eBook ISBN: 9781315613499
Adobe ISBN: 9781317041863


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Fragile, failing and failed states are among the top priorities of large- and middle-power countries and multilateral agencies in the twenty-first century. 2 Yet for more than two decades, Western defence and development establishments selectively promoted ‘stabilisation’ and ‘stability operation’ measures in so-called ‘ungoverned spaces’ of North and sub-Saharan Africa, the Balkans, Central Asia, Latin America, Southeast Asia, the South Pacific and elsewhere. Fragility and instability is commonly described as ‘internal’ to specific states featuring non-state armed groups (NSAGs) threatening their authority, legitimacy and capacity to deliver basic services. In recent years, certain wealthy countries added new agents of fragility and instability in their near abroad – ‘transnational gangs’. Because these gangs are assumed to thrive on formal and informal connections between and within upper- and lower-income states, they are described as threats to both ‘internal’ and ‘external’ stability. Such gangs are routinely fused with real and existential threats including narco-traffickers, insurgents and terrorists. A combination of domestic, unilateral and regional efforts to contain them tends to combine ‘hard’ military and policing responses with ‘softer’ developmental strategies.

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