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About the Index

Based on the 2019 ENACT Organised Crime Index: Africa, the Global Organized Crime Index emerged as a key flagship tool of the GI-TOC. Providing a thorough, holistic view of organized crime dynamics, the Index evaluates all 193 UN member states in terms of the scope and scale of criminality, on the one hand, and their resilience, or ability to withstand and counteract organized crime activities, on the other. The aim of the Index is to provoke a constructive dialogue on the subject of organized crime and its impacts. By providing metrics-based data, the Index facilitates the work of different stakeholders in implementing strategies to counter illicit economies, and equips them with the means to measure the efficacy of their responses.

Index composition

Criminality under the Index

The first component of the Index ­– criminality – consists of two subcomponents: criminal markets and criminal actors. The former is defined as the political, social and economic systems surrounding all stages of the illicit trade in and/or exploitation of commodities or people. In this iteration of the Index, five additional markets have been added to the original 10, shown in bold in the figure below. The full definitions of the criminal markets are available in Appendix 2 at the end of this report; they are also available to download from the dedicated Index platform

Defining organized crime
For the purpose of the Global Organized Crime Index, ‘organized crime’ is defined as illegal activities, conducted by groups or networks acting in concert, by engaging in violence, corruption or related activities in order to obtain, directly or indirectly, a financial or material benefit. Such activities may be carried out both within a country and transnationally.

The second subcomponent of the criminality – criminal actors – assesses the structure and influence of five types of criminal actors: mafia-style groups, criminal networks, state-embedded actors, foreign actors and private sector actors. It continues to be the case that not every one of the multitude of criminal groups around the globe would fit within a clear-cut category. It is with this in mind, that the five actor types that the Index delineates are broad in their characteristics so as to cover as many criminal actor dynamics as possible.

Figure 2.1

Criminality indicators

Criminality indicators

Resilience under the Index

Defining resilience
The Index defines ‘resilience’ as the ability to withstand and disrupt organized criminal activities as a whole, rather than individual markets, through political, economic, legal and social measures. Resilience refers to countries’ measures taken by both the state and non-state actors.

To produce a comprehensive and accurate depiction of the organized crime environment in different contexts to the extent possible, the Index also assesses the quality and efficacy of national resilience measures. While the score for criminality allows stakeholders to identify threats and their potency, the resilience score speaks to the type and effectiveness of measures that states have in place to achieve solutions to the organized crime threats they face. Given the nature of organized crime and its varied dynamics across the world, resilience looks different in different contexts – interventions that work in one region, for example, may have little impact on levels of criminality in another. To account for the different problems posed by organized crime across a wide range of contexts, resilience measures, as defined under the Index, are far-reaching and multi-sectoral. Taken as a whole, the 12 resilience indicators form societies’ building blocks for providing holistic and sustainable responses to organized crime.

Figure 2.2

Resilience indicators

Resilience indicators


This is an abridged version of the methodology applied in the research to compile the Index. To read the methodology in full, see the Index website, alongside the guiding questions that were used to assign and justify criminality and resilience scores.

Мodelling an index is no easy feat, especially one that is intended to assess a phenomenon as clandestine as organized crime. The Global Organized Crime Index model thus proposes an alternative, commodity-driven assessment framework to measure illicit markets through a combination of scope and scale, value and impact. In this way, the Index aims to reconcile the information gaps other frameworks pose.

In summary, the Global Organized Crime Index is thus based on three key elements:

  • The scope, scale and impact of 15 criminal markets
  • The structure and influence of five criminal actor types
  • The existence and capacity of countries to be resilient to organized crime, measured across 12 resilience building blocks

All countries in the Index are assigned a criminality score, which comprises two subcomponents: criminal markets and criminal actors. The assessment of the criminal markets subcomponent entails determining the monetary and non-monetary impact of a market (considering different factors such as the geographic concentration of the market, the number of people affected by or involved in the market, the presence of violence, the scarcity of the commodity illicitly traded). The criminal-actor evaluation encompasses the measurement of criminal groups’ organizational capacity and level of sophistication, as well as their overall influence on the state and society more broadly. Countries are also assigned a resilience score in an effort to assess the level at which states have established the appropriate legal, political and strategic frameworks to address organized crime. The assessment of the 12 resilience indicators is centred on the issues of whether resilience measures or frameworks exist and whether these are effective in counteracting criminality in compliance with international human rights standards.

Both components are measured on a scale of 1 to 10. Whereas the criminality scale goes from lowest levels of criminality to highest levels of organized crime activity, the resilience scale shows the inverse. In other words, for resilience, a score of 1 would indicate low levels of resilience, while a score of 10 indicates strong presence and effectiveness of frameworks that not only address current organized crime risks, but that are formulated to adapt to emerging threats.

Disclaimer: Small discrepancies of 0.01 in calculations of differences between 2021 and 2023 scores might occur due to binary round-off errors.

Index scoring process and limitations

To maintain consistency, every Index iteration undergoes the same multi-stage iterative development process. Preliminary country profiles outlining the context behind each criminality and resilience indicator for all 193 UN member states were constructed through open-source research. Following their completion, country profiles underwent two rounds of independent country and thematic scoring and evaluation by different experts. An additional round of geographic expert group verifications was then carried out to ensure regional score calibration and to serve as a check for country profile narratives, before country profiles were again assessed in a final round by GI-TOC observatories for global calibration purposes.

Figure 2.3

Index scoring process

Index scoring process

Following up on previously identified limitations, necessary steps were taken to build a more accurate representation of organized crime globally, adding cross-cutting illicit activities such as financial crimes and cyber-dependent crimes under the Index framework. Given the addition of new indicators, however, general comparisons with the 2021 results should be approached with caution. Nevertheless, individual indicator and general resilience comparisons between the 2021 and 2023 Index iterations are valid.

Notably, corruption remains excluded from the Index as a standalone criminal market, but rather is captured as an aggravating factor when determining the scores for each of the 15 criminal markets. Furthermore, corruption is also reflected in the criminal actors and resilience components of the Index as a cross-cutting theme.

Finally, as an expert-led assessment, the Index may be subject to implicit and confirmation biases in both its development and the interpretation of its results. In response, the Index methodology was designed to limit these risks to the fullest extent possible through multiple independent and anonymized reviews, and standardized development guidelines.

How to read the representations of this report

Pyramid width and height

The criminal markets score is represented by the pyramid base size and the criminal actors score is represented by the pyramid height on a scale ranging from 1 to 10.

Panel height

The resilience score is represented by the panel height, which can be identified by the side of the panel.

Global average score

The pyramid shape represents the criminality score, the simple average of the criminal markets and criminal actors score. The global criminality score is 5.03, composed of the global criminal markets score of 4.88 and the global criminal actors score of 5.19. The global resilience score is 4.81.