Today, The Siracusa International Institute for Criminal Justice and Human Rights launches a project to drive a more systematic approach to illicit trade by all affected stakeholders. This new 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.


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.

Photo Credit: The Economist


M-CIT’s work will be guided by an advisory committee of international experts, namely:



  • Walter Gehr, Chief of Cabinet, Austrian Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs;


  • Leigh Winchell, former Deputy Director of Compliance and Enforcement, World Customs Organization:


  • Irene Mia, Global Editorial Director of Thought Leadership, The Economist Intelligence Unit and former Senior Economist, World Economic Forum.


  • Danil Kerimi, Head of Information Technology and Electronics Industries, World Economic Forum.


  • Jeffrey Hardy, Director General, Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade.


  • Huw Watkins, Head of Intelligence, UK Intellectual Property Office.


The Institute will continue collaborating with the OECD Task Force, in particular, and supports their important work on counterfeit and pirated goods and the misuse of Free Trade Zones (FTZs). The Institute recently contributed to the OECD’s public consultation on its draft “Guidance to Counter Illicit Trade: Enhancing Transparency in Free Trade Zones”. M-CIT, therefore, will focus on contributing guidance in the many other priority areas where policy recommendations are still urgently needed.

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.