Western Balkan Civil Society Avoiding Fight Against Corruption, Crime: Report

Only around 1 per cent of Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, in the Western Balkans work in the field of anti-corruption and organised crime, a report by from the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, GI-TOC, launched on Monday, concluded.

"Less than 1 per cent of the more than 100,000 civil society organizations (CSOs) registered in the Western Balkans Six (WB6) countries deal directly with organised crime or corruption," the report from GI-TOC notes.

GI-TOC is a network of professionals that focus on the fight against the illegal economy and criminal actors by monitoring evolving trends and building the evidence basis for policy action.

The report's conclusions were drawn from more than 100 interviews with CSOs and emphasize the importance of civil society in fighting organised crime in the region.

The report, however, concludes that CSOs in the WB6 often only indirectly tackle corruption and organised crime, by "working on issues related to drug use, youth development, post-prison reintegration, media freedom, environmental matters and marginalized groups".

"This report shows that the space for civil society in the Western Balkans is shrinking. This is concerning since civil society has a key role to play in strengthening resilience to organised crime and corruption," lead author Kristina Amerhauser writes.

The report also says the impact of the organised crime and corruption needs to be explained to the community by CSOs, which "should formulate and communicate messages more clearly", by being closer and "present in communities' daily lives".

Regional cooperation between CSOs in the region is also vital, considering corruption and organised crime is a common issue, the report says.

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