Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
Education University of Groningen Summer Schools Winter Schools

Illicit Trade

Map of the world with money

Money laundering. Terrorist financing. Drug trafficking. Arms smuggling. Illicit trafficking of wildlife, human body parts, and ancient historical artifacts. Tax havens. Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). 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, wars and conflicts, corruption, authoritarianism, the decline of the natural environment and other contemporary security threats.

With these considerations in mind, the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) and the University of Groningen (UG) organize the second edition of the Winter School on Illicit Trade, which will be delivered online, from 24 to 27 January 2022.

The Winter 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 second 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 criminals set up offshore companies and bank accounts; how they obscure the beneficial ownership of assets; how they exploit the loop-holes of dual-use goods legal systems, and identify vulnerabilities in particular institutions, countries, and jurisdictions. The Winter School includes academic and practical learning about illicit finance, trafficking, and trade, 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 Darknet 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 Winter 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 24 - 27 January 2022
Location Online

500 euro

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

illicittrade Or
Please indicate "Illicit Trade Winter School" in the subject of your message


The Winter School is designed for final year in the undergraduate studies, masters students, PhD students in Law, Political Science, International Relations, Economics, Social Science and other relevant disciplines, who are interested in learning more about illicit trade. It is also addressed to professionals working in governmental institutions, local authorities, international and non-governmental organizations seeking to deepen their understanding of current illicit trade issues.

A very good working knowledge of English is required.

Applications from students who expect to graduate from their Bachelor’s studies at the end of the 2022/23 academic year will also be considered.

Certificate of Attendance and ECTS Equivalence

Upon attendance of all live webinars and completion of the course activities and assignments, participants will receive a United Nations and University of Groningen certificate of participation.

Upon successful completion of the programme, participants can apply for recognition of 3 ECTS to the relevant authorities in their home institutions, therefore the final decision on awarding credits is at the discretion of their home institutions. Participants who wish to fulfil the equivalent work of 3 ECTS will need to deliver a written assignment to the University of Groningen within one month after the end of the Winter School. More detailed information can be requested at

Course methodology

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 Thursday. 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 associate 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

Pim Geelhoed is Associate Professor in Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure, holding a PhD in Criminal Law from Leiden University. He specializes in the Europeanisation of the criminal law field. Among his interests are international cooperation in criminal matters, prosecutorial decision-making, organised and financial crime, and the European Public Prosecutor’s Office. Alongside his position at the University of Groningen he is also a deputy appeals judge in the Court of Appeal of Arnhem-Leeuwarden. He is a member of the Meijers Committee, an NGO that puts issues such as transparency, fundamental rights and access to justice on the agenda of national and European lawmakers. During the summer school, Dr. Geelhoed will guide us through the legal trends when it comes to illicit trade and organized crime.

Application procedure

Application has closed, we are no longer accepting applications.

Confirmation of acceptance: 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 13 January 2022.

Payment deadline: full payment has to be finalized within 1 week following confirmation of acceptance, and no later than 16 January 2022. Contact for the payment will go via the Office of the University of Groningen. For any questions on payments and for proof of payment, please email

Cancellations and Refunds

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.

logo unicri: united nations interregional crime and justice research institute
Logo globalisation studies
logo illicit trade: a globe with the text Illicit Trade the dark side of globalization
Last modified:10 January 2022 3.11 p.m.