Not all attempts to increase prosperity constitute legitimate steps by official entities and bona fide actors. In the Dutch economy an estimated €60 billion worth of activities, around 10% of GDP, is “black” and interaction between official transactions and their more clandestine equivalents are plenty. In general, an extensive male fide shadow state reduces the legitimacy and effectiveness of the official government and other bona fide actors to genuinely work towards a better world. For that reason, addressing “undermining”, i.e. the insidious lessening of the effectiveness of the state and its measures to increase inclusive prosperity, is high on the government agenda in the Netherlands and elsewhere. A particular challenge in this respect consists of keeping the balance between effective measures to suppress illegal activities, while preventing the creation of a police state and suffocating individual creativity and economic development. Another challenge consists of efficiently catching and punishing the perpetrators without stigmatizing and unduly affecting the innocent with a similar (socio-economic or ethnic) profile as the typical culprit. 

Several projects involving DoIP researcher Lieselot Bisschop deal with the issue of “undermining” especially in the context of environmental crime on the one hand and drugs smuggling through the port of Rotterdam on the other. As one of the largest ports in the world, Rotterdam is an important transit point for drugs. An estimated 160.000 kilos of cocaine arrive in the port each year, with a “street value” of € 7.5 billion. That is more than half of what the total population in Rotterdam earns in the same time and thus has serious potential to stimulate illegitimate activities through bribes etc. Major investments have been made in recent years to prevent criminals from using the port to smuggle drugs, but criminal countermeasures have become more sophisticated too and several blind spots remain. Those in the right positions, for instance people with access to container terminals, can be tempted to double their annual salary if they are willing to look the other way for a short time, e.g. by “losing” their access pass for an hour or two. Lieselot Bisschop was involved in a study commissioned by the City of Rotterdam, Police, Public Prosecutor, and Customs, which assessed drug smuggling in the Port of Rotterdam. In their study the researchers extensively investigated which structures, processes and systems are used and abused by drug criminals, including their suppliers and facilitators; which risks and vulnerabilities are relevant; how public enforcement, supervision and investigation can be improved; how internal supervision and enforcement by private organisations plays a role in drugs crime and what improvements can be made in this regard. In a foreword to their 2019 report, Rotterdam mayor Aboutaleb wrote “I am grateful to Erasmus University Rotterdam and the cooperating partners for the unique and illuminating picture that they present in this report”.

Studio Erasmus - Is de Rotterdamse haven opgewassen tegen drugssmokkel?

Dr. Lieselot Bisschop - Erasmus School of Law

  • The Dynamics of Inclusive Prosperity Initiative aims for people to benefit from inclusive prosperity while minimizing harm. One type of harm that goes hand in hand with growing prosperity is environmental degradation, which also brings with it dimensions of inequality and exclusion. Lieselot's research therefore focuses on gaining insights into the drivers and dynamics of exclusive prosperity with a particular focus on environmental harm, especially when connected to industrial processes (e.g. oil and gas, waste, shipping, natural resource extraction and trade). By better understanding the characteristics of exclusive prosperity, she aims to contribute to answering the question about how governments, businesses and civil society can cooperate to reach inclusive prosperity in environmental matters.

    Lieselot Bisschop – Assistant Professor Erasmus School of Law

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