Governing the international political economy of transnational environmental crime

Lorraine Elliott*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

    5 Citations (Scopus)


    Transnational environmental crime (TEC) involves the trading or smuggling across borders of species, resources and pollutants in violation of prohibition or regulation regimes established by multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) and/or in contravention of national law. This includes the trafficking of illegally logged timber (sometimes called 'stolen' timber); the illegal trade in endangered, threatened and some protected species; the black market in ozone-depleting substances (ODS) and other prohibited or regulated chemicals; and the transboundary dumping of toxic and hazardous waste, including electronic waste (e-waste). The expansion of TEC black markets is a consequence, albeit an unintended one, of a globalised liberal political economy. Globalisation, Peter Andreas (2002: 40) has argued, 'creates a new opportunity structure for those involved in criminalized markets'. As with other forms of criminal endeavour, crimes associated with illegal extraction, harvest and waste have become increasingly transnationalised as those involved take advantage of freer trade, increases in the frequency and volume of commodity shipments, fewer border controls, and easier transfers of funds through global financial and banking systems that offer more opportunities to launder profits into 'legitimate' enterprise. TEC is also, somewhat paradoxically, a function of the growth in global environmental governance. The entry into force of a series of multilateral environmental agreements designed to regulate activities which generate negative environmental externalities, or in some cases to prohibit the transboundary movement of the products of that activity, has created incentives for increasingly profitable black markets.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationHandbook of the International Political Economy of Governance
    PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing Ltd.
    Number of pages19
    ISBN (Electronic)9780857933485
    ISBN (Print)9780857933478
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


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