Criminal organizations increasingly seek active participation in and influence over local and national politics by bribing politicians and infiltrating political parties. This presents already-complex fragile and conflict-affected settings with a new challenge that, if not addressed, could undermine the precarious legitimacy of political parties. Criminal interests and illicit financing can easily further weaken the political system, hampering the development of accountability and civic participation.

NIMD, together with the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance and the Clingendael Institute, has developed an innovative study on illicit networks in politics in Latin America. Based on this work, and in order to contribute to adequate policy responses to this growing problem, NIMD is expanding and deepening its expertise on the impact of illicit networks on political processes in fragile and conflict-affected settings.

UNDERSTANDING THE IMPACT OF ILLICIT NETWORKS IN LATIN AMERICA

The issues of organized crime and its influence on politics in Latin America goes beyond the war on drugs: extortion, corruption and lack of clarity in decision-making procedures deriving from illicit networks in several Latin American states negatively impacts political systems. In order to strengthen institutions and re-install confidence, NIMD facilitates dialogue in several Latin American states on reform of electoral and political party legislation. In Guatemala, for example, political parties managed to reach consensus on transparency in political party financing and the provision of tools for the electoral tribunal to ensure adherence by the political parties to these rules. In Honduras, NIMD (together with NDI and UNDP) organized a series of thematic multiparty meetings, inviting experts from various Latin American countries who elaborated and eventually signed a Commitment for Minimum Guarantees for Ethical and Transparent Elections.