Illicit trade affects all aspects of contemporary societies. By definition, the term “illicit” signals practices that are not permitted by law or disapproved of by society. It enables security threats to materialise, such as natural-resource-fuelled conflicts and terrorism. It presents safety hazards, such as those created by counterfeit medicines and drugs. It threatens the sustainability of our societies by consuming excessive planetary resources and undermining the regulated functioning of international markets. Yet, despite this obvious objective relevance, the discussion on illicit trade remains compartmentalized within disciplinary boundaries. It requires an interdisciplinary approach instead. The Globalization, Illicit Trade, Sustainability and Security (GLITSS) COST Action contributes to filling a research gap. 

Three working groups are established, 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). GLITSS creates an interdisciplinary research network characterised by the inclusiveness and epistemological diversity that defines the research field today. The objectives of the Action are to create a holistic research agenda on illicit trade practices, to increase public awareness with a view to enhancing societal resilience and to explore how technological innovation facilitates illicit trade, but can also be used to fight it. Governmental agencies, civil organizations and academics will benefit from a Europe-wide discussion on illicit trade. Ultimately, GLITSS will advise stakeholders on how to create a more resilient and sustainable society by identifying, understanding and countering illicit trade.

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