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Education University of Groningen Summer Schools

Illicit Trade

large piles of money

Money laundering. Terrorist financing. Drug trafficking. Arms smuggling. Illicit trafficking of wildlife, human body parts, and ancient historical artifacts. Tax havens. Proliferation of WMDs. Oil bunkering. Human smuggling and the modern day slave trade. Conflict minerals and blood diamonds. These are not just abstract terms, but billion dollar globalized industries that are part of the world’s globally interconnected economy and which overlap with and exacerbate terrorism, war and conflict, corruption, authoritarianism, the decline of the natural environment and other contemporary security threats.

With these considerations in mind, the University of Groningen and the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) organize the fourth edition of the Summer School on Illicit Trade, which will be delivered online, from 5 to 9 July 2021.

The Summer School pierces the veil of secrecy around issues related to the dark side of globalization and teaches participants about illicit financing and trading. Now in its fourth edition, this exciting course is the first of its kind in teaching illicit trade in a holistic and practically useful way. Participants will learn how to set up offshore companies and bank accounts, obscure the beneficial ownership of assets, exploit the loop-holes of dual-use goods legal systems, and identify vulnerabilities in particular institutions, countries, and jurisdictions. The summer school includes academic and practical learning about illicit finance, trafficking, and trade, field visits to practitioners involved in countering these threats, and expert examination into strategies and practices about how to combat illicit trade.

More specifically, the course curriculum will include the following topics:

  • Illicit trade: relevant definitions, types and actors involved
  • the global governance of illicit trade
  • features and consequences of illicit trade
  • Illicit trade in illegal goods, with case examples of trafficking in humans, narcotics, and endangered wildlife
  • export control and dual-use goods
  • terrorist financing, illicit finance, offshore finance, and money laundering
  • ethical, political, legal and practical challenges in dealing with illicit trade
  • the role of the Dark net and the internet
  • open source intelligence techniques (OSINT): from the surface to the deep and dark web
  • techniques of investigation and network analysis of illicit trade

The Summer School offers professional, legal, social, scientific and academic perspectives through live webinars, group discussions, dynamic case studies, individual readings, and practical exercises. The faculty is composed of leading scholars and academics from the University of Groningen and other universities, as well as international legal experts from the United Nations system, international and non-governmental organizations, and civil society.

Through a dedicated online platform, participants will have the opportunity to interact with internationally recognized experts and peers from all over the world, so as to build lasting professional relationships. This experience fosters intercultural dialogue and promotes a deeper understanding of the most salient issues faced by the international community related to illicit trade.

Practical information

Dates 5 - 9 July 2021

€ 600


All (Final Year BA/MA/PhD/Postdoc/Practitioners)

Academic coordinators Dr. Francesco Giumelli
Dr. Tim Wittig
Dr. Pim Geelhoud

illicittrade - Please indicate “Illicit Trade Summer School” in the subject of the email


The course is designed for university graduates in Law, Political Science, International Relations, Economics, Social Sciences and other relevant disciplines. It is also addressed to young professionals working in governmental institutions, local authorities, international and non-governmental organizations seeking to deepen their understanding of current food security issues.

It is expected that the participants have a sufficient command of the English language that allows them to participate actively in the discussions and present their own work.

Learning outcomes & workload

After this course you will be able to:

  • Display knowledge about Illicit Trade.
  • Evaluate research in a critical and substantiated manner, as well as in a way that respects scientific, social and ethical responsibilities.
  • The ability to present conducted research and express yourself in a clear and coherent manner, both in oral and in written/typed form, using understandable and correct English.
  • Become self-reliant and reliable in the execution of the tasks belonging to this course unit.

  • Attendance of lectures: 5 x 4 = 20 hrs.
  • Preparation for lectures: 5 x 2 = 10 hrs.
  • Attendance of seminars: 5 x 2 = 10 hrs.
  • Preparation for seminars: 5 x 1 = 5 hrs.
  • Final Capstone = 40 hrs.

Students who wish to fulfil the equivalent work of 5 ECTS will need to deliver a written assignment within one month after the end of the Summer School.

  • Paper preparation: 55 hrs.

Upon successful completion of the programme, the Summer School offers a Certificate of Attendance that mentions the workload of 140 hours / 5 ECTS (28 hours corresponds to 1 ECTS). Students can apply for recognition of these credits to the relevant authorities in their home institutions, therefore the final decision on awarding credits is at the discretion of their home institutions. We will be happy to provide any necessary information that might be requested in addition to the certificate of attendance.

Course schedule

This course is delivered online. It combines live webinars in our virtual classroom, led by subject matter experts, with self-paced activities and interactive group discussions.

The live webinars are from 3:00 pm - 7:00 pm CET time (9:00 am – 1:00 pm EST), from Monday to Friday. This is to create a 12-hours cycle during which participants and practitioners can attend the classes, plan their workload to a time that is most suitable, and interact with other participants to complete the assignments.

The live webinars are conducted on a dedicated online platform. Participants need a computer (recommended) or a mobile device with microphone, audio and video capabilities, as well as a reliable internet connection. We recommend accessing audio through the computer. No special software is required. Upon acceptance to the course, participants will be provided with the information to access the platform.

Dr. Francesco Giumelli

Francesco Giumelli holds a Ph.D. from the University of Florence and is assistant professor in the Department of International Relations and International Organization at the University of Groningen. He has been Jean Monnet Fellow at the European University Institute and Fellow at the Kroc Institute of Notre Dame University. He wrote the ‘Success of Sanctions: Lessons Learned from the experience of the EU’ with Routledge/Ashgate, and ‘Coercing and Constraining and Signalling: Explaining UN and EU Sanctions after the Cold War’ with ECPR Press. He also authored reports for the European Union Institute for Security Studies and the European Policy Centre among others and gave talks at various international think tanks, such as Chatham House, the German Council on Foreign Relations and the Italian Institute for International Affairs.

Tim Wittig
Dr. Tim Wittig

Tim Wittig holds a PhD in International Relations from the University of St Andrews, and is a research fellow at the University of Groningen. His research focuses on identifying and researching the social determinants of illicit trafficking, threat finance, and transnational organized crime, and how they intersect with other issues of international and environmental security. He is the author of numerous publications on these topics, including the book Understanding Terrorist Finance (Palgrave: 2011). In parallel to his academic work, Dr. Wittig has extensive experience as a practitioner, having worked for several years in the NGO sector on counter wildlife trafficking initiatives, in the defense/national security sector on counter threat finance and related issues, and as a consultant to public, private, and charitable sector clients. Prior to Groningen, Dr. Wittig has held a variety of university research and faculty positions, including at Johns Hopkins University, U.S. National Defense University, the University of Amsterdam, and the University of St Andrews.

Pim Geelhoed
Dr. Pim Geelhoed

is assistant professor in Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure. He studied Dutch Law at Leiden University, where he graduated in 2006 with a specialisation in Criminal Law. In the same year he became PhD-fellow (researcher/lecturer) at the Leiden Institute for Criminal Law and Criminology. In 2013, he defended his PhD-thesis with the title 'Het opportuniteitsbeginsel en het recht van de Europese Unie. Een onderzoek naar de betekenis van strafvorderlijke beleidsvrijheid in de geëuropeaniseerde rechtsorde'. Between 2013 and 2017 he was an assistant professor in Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure at Leiden University. Since 2017, he is an assistant professor in Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure at the University of Groningen. Pim Geelhoed is a part-time judge at the District Court of Noord-Nederland. He is also a member of the Meijers Committee, a committee of experts in European immigration, refugee and criminal law. His activities in teaching and research often relate to the Europeanisation of Criminal Law. He is also regularly involved in an advisory capacity when it concerns topics of European criminal law.

marco musumecci
Marco Musumeci

Marco Musumeci is a Programme Coordinator at the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute. In this function, he is coordinating and managing the implementation of different projects of UNICRI's Programme on counterfeiting. He is also establishing cooperation channels with international organizations interested in counterfeiting issues as well as with Member States (diplomatic missions and governments) and private sector associations, in addition to a number of other activities. He obtained a Master degree in Criminology and International Criminal Policy from UNICRI and University of Turin.

Application procedure

To apply, kindly fill out the online application form below. Please note that you will be asked to upload the following documents:

  • CV
  • Letter of Motivation

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis - the results of the selection process will be communicated via email, within 5 working days following receipt of the application, and no later than the 25th of June 2021.

Deadline for application: 20 June 2021.

Payment deadline: full payment has to be finalized within 1 week following confirmation of acceptance, and no later than 27 June 2021.

The scholarship applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Additional Statement of Motivation (maximum 1 page) explaining your interest and merit in receiving the scholarship is required.*
*to be uploaded together within the same document as the summer school application Letter of Motivation, see section 'admission documents'

Cancellation policy

In the case of cancellation of your participation, registration fees will not be refunded for any reason.

Given the current exceptional circumstances, however, full refund of the registration fees will be guaranteed should the cancellation be linked to the COVID-19 crisis (i.e. health problems of the participant or spouse/registered partner/children or parents). Evidence of such ground should be provided when requesting the refund.


Available scholarships: 4 scholarships for €400

Eligible candidates must come from one of the following countries:
Afghanistan, Angola, Armenia, Bangladesh, Belize, Benin, Bhutan Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo (Dem Rep.), Congo (Rep.), Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Eritrea, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Kiribati, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan (Rep.), Tanzania, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia

The scholarship applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

Additional Statement of Motivation (maximum 1 page) explaining your interest and merit in receiving the scholarship is required*

*to be uploaded together within the same document as the summer school application Letter of Motivation, see section 'admission documents'

The summer school is also supported by Globalisation Studies Groningen, an interfaculty body of the University of Groningen.

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Last modified:21 June 2021 09.16 a.m.