Dismantling Criminal Networks through Internationalized Investigative Bodies: Assessing the Efficacy of the UN and the CICIG in Guatemala

Grants to Support Faculty Fellows' Research
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The outbreak of a major wave of criminal violence in Latin America in recent decades represents one of the greatest challenges to democratic stability and peaceful coexistence in the region. This project will assess one of the most innovative schemes of international/domestic cooperation -- the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) -- by which the United Nations and Guatemala's public prosecutor's office have been able to dismantle entrenched networks of government corruption, criminality and gross human rights violations that emerged during the country's civil war, survived the 1996 peace agreement, and became leading organized criminal actors fighting for control over illicit markets. Using the Synthetic Control Method, we offer the first empirical test showing that since its implementation in 2008, the CICIG has directly contributed to a major drop in Guatemala's murder rate, saving 18,000 lives. A round of fieldwork interviews with key actors in Guatemala would provide us with fine-grained qualitative evidence to explain the mechanics behind CICIG's success. This research is timely because the CICIG is under fierce attack in Guatemala and several countries in Latin America are seeking to emulate the CICIG example. We hope to contribute to the emerging literature on the impact of transitional justice mechanisms on criminal violence and to discussions about the efficacy of internationalized solutions to the global problem of transnational organized crime and large-scale criminal violence.