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Research Projects

The Siracusa Institute’s international reputation for excellence is in part built on extensive scientific research in the areas of criminal justice, human rights and the rule of law.

Some examples of the Institute’s scholarly and scientific research follow:

Women’s Empowerment in OIC Countries

The research project “Women’s Empowerment in OIC Countries: Input to the Women Development Organisation (WDO)”, funded by the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was launched in October 2021. The main objective of the project is to promote and assist WDO and its member states in the elaboration of a more progressive interpretation of Shari’a, with specific regards to six topics closely related to women’s empowerment: women and economic development; women and criminal justice; violence against women; women and preventing extremism; women and education; women and politics.

The Institute aims at addressing these topics by organizing and implementing six interreligious or expert dialogues, involving representatives of the fifteen WDO member states, together with religious or traditional leaders, international experts on the subject matter, as well as representatives from states, practitioners and civil-society representatives and OIC’s member states.

Strengthening the Fight against Illicit Trade in South Eastern Europe

The Siracusa International Institute for Criminal Justice and Human Rights conducted between 2017 and 2020 a technical assistance and capacity-building project on “Strengthening the Fight Against Illicit Trade in South Eastern Europe. The goal of this project was to strengthen the criminal justice response to illicit trade in 12 South Eastern European countries, namely Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and Turkey.

In the first phase of this project, the Institute focused on identifying a wide range of experts, including 12 national legal experts, 2 regional legal experts and training experts. The national and regional experts then commenced in-depth studies of the practical challenges and obstacles in fighting illicit trade in South Eastern Europe. The first phase’s foundational research and analysis was further developed throughout the second phase of the project, which was launched at a “High-Level Regional Strategic Dialogue on Illicit Trade in South Eastern Europe” which took place in Siracusa in December 2018. The Dialogue brought together 95 national ministers, general prosecutors, and directors of police and customs, as well as directors of INTERPOL, Europol, the Southeast European Law Enforcement Center and UN Office on Drugs and Crime, among other regional and international stakeholders.

High-Level Regional Strategic Dialogue on Illicit Trade in South Eastern Europe – Siracusa, December 5-6, 2018

Building on the collaborative platform established at the Regional Strategic Dialogue, the Institute conducted in 2019 seven “National Strategic Dialogues (NSDs)” in seven priority countries. Feedback received was extremely positive, both from participants as well as partner institutions. All events were well-attended, with a total of 350 national and 119 international criminal justice officials participating.

The project was supported by PMI IMPACT, a global grant initiative of Philip Morris International.

In November 2020, the Institute launched the final project report, titled “Closing the Implementation Gap: Criminal justice responses to illicit trade in South Eastern Europe and associated challenges. This legal and policy report provides the first region-wide sketch of national criminal justice systems’ challenges and opportunities for tackling the phenomenon of illicit trade more holistically, and elaborates recommendations for national and regional leaders and policymakers. The report and the executive summaries are available here.

Mechanism for Combating Illicit Trade – M.CIT

The Siracusa International Institute for Criminal Justice and Human Rights launched in November 2018 a project to drive a more systematic approach to illicit trade by all affected stakeholders. This collaborative initiative, the Mechanism for Combating Illicit Trade, will help shape international benchmarks and track global action in the fight against illicit trade. The project is supported by Philip Morris International.

M-CIT aims to mitigate the harmful consequences of illicit trade by driving a more systematic approach to it by all stakeholders. More specifically, M-CIT’s objectives are to:

  • formulate international recommendations for governments and businesses, to assist them in developing new whole-of-system, cross-sectoral approaches to illicit trade.
  • propose an innovative methodology for assessing the compliance of governments and businesses with the recommendations.
  • support governance bodies including the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and its Task Force on Countering Illicit Trade, and policy-makers, to drive a systematic approach to illicit trade.

1st Advisory Committee of M-CIT Project – Siracusa, December 3-4, 2018

The Institute will ensure that a human rights perspective is fully incorporated into the project, including by assessing the human rights impact of existing and potential future approaches to combatting the illicit trade. The longer-term vision of M.CIT is the establishment of an innovative review mechanism involving governments and businesses committed to implementing whole-of-system approaches to illicit trade. The Institute looks forward to collaborating with governments, the private sector, civil society and other key stakeholders in this ambitious endeavour.

For further information, see: M-CIT Strategic Guidance Paper March 2019

Fight against counterfeit drugs in Francophone Africa

The Siracusa Institute, on the impulse of the International Institute of Research against Counterfeit Medicines  (IRACM), conducted a research, awareness and capacity building project finalized to strengthen the fight against counterfeit drugs in Francophone Africa. The project involved 7 francophone African states: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Ivory Coast, Mali, Senegal and Chad, and it was intended for representatives of the Ministries of the Interior and of Health. Counterfeiting pharmaceuticals is a particularly worrying phenomenon in Africa and threatens the health of millions of people around the world. Counterfeiting medicines has, moreover, become the most profitable source of income for organized crime; therefore, this scourge must find global and regional response. The main objective of this project was to help strengthen the fight against counterfeiting while reaching a political consensus for the preparation, adoption and implementation of comprehensive, modern and adequate national legislation.

Fact-Finding Mechanisms: Establishment of Principles and Best Practices for International and National Commissions of Inquiry

From 2012 to 2013, the Siracusa Institute conducted a large-scale project to scrutinise and assess the UN system of fact-finding. The project involved organizing the “Meeting of Experts on the Establishment of Principles and Best Practices for International and National Commissions of Inquiry”. The meeting’s purpose was to deliberate on the need for comprehensive reform within the UN system of human rights fact-finding. This meeting brought together 65 esteemed international jurists, attorneys and scholars, as well as high-level representatives of the UN, governments and the international criminal tribunals. As a result of the meeting, the Siracusa Guidelines for International, Regional and National Fact-Finding Bodies (Siracusa Guidelines) were published. The Siracusa Guidelines were submitted to the UN Secretary-General, and more than 1,200 individuals around the world.