New Book on Controlling Illicit Trade

I wanted to bring readers’ attention to the new book entitled Governing Guns, Preventing Plunder: International Cooperation against Illicit Trade, authored by Asif Efrat and recently published by OUP.  I’ll exerpt from the OUP website below, including the impressive reviews by Beth Simmons, Anne-Marie Slaughter, and Matthew Evangelista (not a bad group of endorsements!).

I havent read the book yet, but it seems to me from what I can tell so far that its the kind of book that seeks to identify the underlying factors of value and interest that are really driving observable problems in international legal regulation in a number of areas of illicit trade, including small arms.  And that is a very valuable inquiry. 

From the OUP website:

From human trafficking to the smuggling of small arms to the looting of antiquities, illicit trade poses significant threats to international order. So why is it so difficult to establish international cooperation against illicit trade? Governing Guns, Preventing Plunder offers a novel, thought-provoking answer to this crucial question.Conventional wisdom holds that criminal groups are the biggest obstacle to efforts to suppress illicit trade. Contrarily, Asif Efrat explains how legitimate actors, such as museums that acquire looted antiquities, seek to hinder these regulatory efforts. Yet such attempts to evade regulation fuel international political conflicts between governments demanding action against illicit trade and others that are reluctant to cooperate. The book offers a framework for understanding the domestic origins of these conflicts and how the distribution of power shapes their outcome. Through this framework, Efrat explains why the interests of governments vary across countries, trades, and time. In a fascinating empirical analysis, he solves a variety of puzzles: Why is the international regulation of small arms much weaker than international drug control? What led the United States and Britain to oppose the efforts against the plunder of antiquities, and why did they ultimately join these efforts? How did American pressure motivate Israel to tackle sex trafficking? Efrat’s findings will change the way we think about illicit trade, offering valuable insights to scholars, activists, and policymakers. 

“This book is a major accomplishment. It is rare indeed to find a volume in the social sciences that addresses the question of how international cooperation occurs in the area of banned activities and illicit goods. Asif Efrat weaves a domestic political economy account into his analysis of international collaboration to explain why some governments have embraced (and others have resisted) such bans, from efforts to control trade in small arms to criminalization of human trafficking; from illicit drugs to trade in looted antiquities. The evidentiary basis on which this work rests is monumental, including original evidence on the preferences of 118 governments on regulating illicit international trade in small arms. Compelling, engaging and rigorous, this book is one of the very best reads available on the topic of cooperation among governments to define and address international criminal activity.”– Beth A. Simmons, Harvard University

“It is an axiom of the literature on international institutions that a sine qua non for cooperation among states is shared interests. When it comes to illicit global trade-trafficking in drugs, arms, and people-Asif Efrat shows that notwithstanding their rhetoric, states do not in fact have a shared interest in regulation or prohibitions. Efrat’s analysis is clear, compelling, and an admirable example of careful exploration of micro-foundations. He makes both a theoretical and an empirical contribution on an important subject.”– Anne-Marie Slaughter, Princeton University

“Most studies of transnational crime focus on the criminals and their corrupting influence on governments. In this innovative project, Asif Efrat calls attention to the role of legal actors-namely, domestic interests within states-in posing barriers to, but sometimes making possible, international cooperation to fight illicit trade. His detailed research into illegal trafficking in small arms, human beings, and looted antiquities provides insights into the domestic challenges to international cooperation.”– Matthew Evangelista, Cornell University


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