• Is crime a big problem in your country? What sorts of crimes are common?
  • Have you ever been the victim of a crime?
  • What are the differences between a crime of greed, a crime of passion, and a crime of insanity? Which do you think is most common?


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Crime one of world's 'top 20 economies,' UN says

Proceeds from criminal business top $2.1 trillion US annually

Yury Fedotov

The Associated Press - Criminality worldwide generates proceeds in the trillions of dollars each year, making crime one of the world's "top 20 economies," a senior UN official said Monday.

With the scope of global crime — and particularly organized crime — threatening emerging economies and fomenting international instability, Yury Fedotov called for concerted world action to combat the trend.

"We need to recognize that the problem requires a global solution," Fedotov, the head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, told reporters outside an international conference focused on preventing the exploitation of illegal migrants and other crimes linked to human trafficking. "No country can handle this problem alone."

Fedotov said that "criminal business" earns those behind it $2.1 trillion US a year, which he said is equivalent to nearly 7 per cent of the size of the global economy.

In separate comments inside the meeting, he said that as many as 2.4 million people may be victims of human trafficking worldwide at any given time, calling it "a shameful crime of modern-day slavery."

Corruption is another concern of the meeting. Fedotov told the opening session that estimates put the amount of money lost through corruption in developing countries at $40 billion US annually.

U.S. delegate Brian A. Nichols said the changed face of organized crime makes prosecution more difficult than in the past.

"Today, most criminal organizations bear no resemblance to the hierarchical organized crime family groups of the past," he told the meeting.

"Instead, they consist of loose and informal networks that often converge when it is convenient and engage in a diverse array of criminal activities, including the smuggling of counterfeit goods, firearms, drugs, humans, and even wildlife to amass their illicit profits."


  • How big a business is crime? What are some of the statistics cited in the article? What is the source of the information?
  • What types of crime does the article say generates the most income? Do you agree?
  • The article also mentions corruption. What is it and what forms does it take? Is it a major issue in your country?


  • Is crime a part of human nature? Why do people commit crimes?
  • How can we reduce the amount of crime in the world? Should we be tougher or more understanding to those who commit crimes. What are the pros and cons of each position?