Dr Francesco Giumelli, associate professor in International Relations and International Organisations of the Faculty of Arts, and Dr Pim Geelhoed, associate professor of Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure of the Faculty of Law, have been awarded a Cost Action funding.
The funding will facilitate the researchers in organising network meetings, conferences and workshops on the theme of illicit trade, intended for experts from various fields of study from 55 universities within Europe and three outside of Europe. One of the experts working on the project is AssistentProfessor Dr George Azzopardi of the RUG's Faculty of Science and Engineering, who was also involved in the funding application.
The meetings are intended to share knowledge and to build and maintain interdisciplinary networks. The meetings are organised over a period of four years and serve as input for various scientific publications on international illicit trade. "There are still few opportunities at the international level to share multidisciplinary knowledge. This grant makes this possible," says Giumelli. In addition to a number of large conferences, the researchers will establish three working groups, focusing on the phenomena of illicit trade (the smuggling and trafficking of goods and money), the platforms behind it (norms, actors and regulations) and the responses to it (enforcement, alternative measures and legalisation).
Giumelli and Geelhoed have been studying the theme of illicit trade together for some time. They are the initiators and coordinators of the Illicit Trade Group, to which experts from various faculties of the University of Groningen are affiliated and which aims to initiate a discussion on the causes, consequences and solutions for the challenges posed by illegal trade. By gathering knowledge on the topic, the group aims to contribute to capacity building of governments to counter illicit trade practices and increase social resilience against illicit trade.
The researchers call illicit trade a growing threat to society. "It is important to gain more knowledge about this and to share that knowledge," says Giumelli. "Globalisation, the use of high-tech communication tools and the emergence of a global market have created a wide range of opportunities for illegal activities that have serious consequences for the well-being of states, individuals and communities."
Geelhoed: "Illegal trade, for example, is linked to terrorism, war, corruption and other issues that threaten the security of society. That is why it is important to conduct research into the causes, challenges and solutions for illegal trade practices, and to organise meetings to increase knowledge about the dark side of globalisation."
The Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) implements a European Union-funded programme that enables researchers to set up their own research networks in a wide range of scientific topics.
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