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date: 24 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

While the image of the state as a victim of organized crime is ubiquitous, the state is rarely seen as an actor proper in its own organized crime activities. As states, its institutions and organizations are “organized actors” by definition they seem to be organized crime actors by default. However, state crime comes in many and often “hybrid organizational form,” as state-sponsored crime, or as “state-private interaction.” Given the power that the modern state is capable of exerting over its citizens (and abroad), state crimes are crimes of extraordinarily serious nature. The contribution explores the institutional context and social relationships that provide fertile grounds for state-organized crime with a particular focus on unlawful state violence, and mass atrocity crimes. This exploration will be framed by two paradoxes: the paradox of the state as guardian against its own criminal activity, and the paradox of state strength and weakness as precondition for state-organized crime.

Keywords: state violence, crimes against humanity, paradox of state strength and weakness, failed states, protection rackets, security dilemmas, joint criminal enterprise

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