Our Mission

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. Four 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.

Main objectives of our Action

There is currently no consensus on the nature and scope of illicit trade, and on how to address it. Additionally, networks where such questions can be addressed are missing. GLITSS aims to create a platform for interdisciplinary dialogue on illicit trade issues, with shared ideas and a common language. This will be achieved through the specific objectives detailed in the Technical Annex

Specific Objectives

To achieve the main objective described in this MoU, the following specific objectives shall be accomplished:

Research Coordination

  • Develop a common holistic understanding of illicit trade supported by joint debate on the matter and a concrete research agenda
  • Study the potential threats from and long-term effects of illicit trade vis-à-vis the 3Ss (Safety, Security and Sustainability)
  • Contribute to the critical engagement with the definition of what “illicit” is, and when certain practices become so
  • Develop methods for the studying of illicit trade and for the collection of reliable data. The Action will contribute to the refining and development of methods and digital tools for analysing the impact of illicit trade at the local, regional and international levels
  • Create visibility – both within the academic community and for other stakeholders – about the common issues and challenges facing the academic community, local, national and European Union authorities
  • Develop and publish an Action website to become the reference point for addressing the challenges posed by illicit trade, including a multimedia room for resources, a platform to highlight the work of 3 individual researchers, a repository of related projects as well as information about networking events and channels of dissemination
  • Disseminate research outputs to third-party stakeholders through publications, Training Schools and capacity-building initiatives

Capacity Building

  • Bring together, in a coordinated way, the geographically scattered European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) members in order to stimulate further research and knowledge-sharing on the topic of illicit trade by fostering collaboration between scholars of all ages and genders which can outlast the Action’s own lifespan
  • Cooperate with technology professionals in order to create innovative means of deterring, monitoring and countering illicit trade
  • Introduce and educate students, ECIs, entrepreneurs and other interested parties to the multifaceted nature of illicit trade in order to stimulate further research and refine the current piecemeal approach taken 
  • Support the development of PhD students and ECIs by organising Training Schools and seminars to bolster the wider activities of the Action. It is envisaged that such activities will secure a new generation of researchers properly equipped to deal with the issue of illicit trade
  • To actively engage stakeholders through invitations to join WGs or to participate on an ad hoc basis. Furthermore WGs 1–3 will develop training programmes applicable to both scholars and professionals, made available free of charge on the Action website and via YouTube videos
  • Provide support and recommendations for educational programmes at various of the Action’s partner universities
  • Deliver guidance and recommendations on how to overcome presenting challenges in a comprehensive policy document targeting policymakers and other relevant stakeholders at the national and EU levels
  • Support and encourage publication of peer reviewed papers and presentations at important conferences and events, in order to create international awareness regarding the issue of illicit trade

Action documents

Memorandum of Understanding
Scroll to Top