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Winter School on Illicit Trade, 23-26 January 2023, Online - Deadline for application: 8 January 2023

Illicit trade 2022




Money laundering. Terrorist financing. Drug trafficking. Arms smuggling. Illicit trafficking of human body parts, wildlife, and ancient historical artifacts. Human trafficking and smuggling, and the modern-day slave trade. Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Tax havens. Oil bunkering. Conflict minerals and blood diamonds. These are not just abstract terms, but billion-dollar globalized industries that are part of the world’s globally interconnected economy and which overlap with and exacerbate terrorism, wars and conflicts, corruption, authoritarianism, the decline of the natural environment and other contemporary security threats. Not to mention their devastating impact on human rights and development.

With these considerations in mind, the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) and the University of Groningen (UG) organize the third edition of the Winter School on Illicit Trade, which will be delivered online, from 23 to 26 January 2023.

The Winter School pierces the veil of secrecy around issues related to the dark side of globalization and teaches participants about illicit financing and trading. Now in its third edition, this specialized course is the first of its kind in teaching illicit trade in a holistic and practically useful way. Participants will learn how criminals set up offshore companies and bank accounts; how they obscure the beneficial ownership of assets; how they exploit the loopholes of dual-use goods legal systems, and identify vulnerabilities in particular institutions, countries, and jurisdictions. The Winter School includes academic and practical learning about illicit finance, trafficking, and trade, and expert examination into strategies and practices about how to combat illicit trade.

More specifically, the course curriculum will include the following topics:

  • Illicit trade: relevant definitions, types and actors involved
  • The global governance of illicit trade
  • Features and consequences of illicit trade
  • Illicit trade, with case examples of human trafficking and smuggling, narcotics, and endangered wildlife
  • Export control and dual-use goods (including precursors or components of WMD)
  • Terrorist financing, illicit finance, offshore finance, and money laundering
  • Ethical, political, legal and practical challenges in dealing with illicit trade
  • The role of the Darknet and the Internet
  • Open-source intelligence techniques (OSINT): from the surface to the deep and dark web
  • Techniques of investigation and network analysis of illicit trade

The Winter School offers professional, legal, social, scientific and academic perspectives through live webinars, group discussions, dynamic case studies, individual readings, and practical exercises. The faculty is composed of leading scholars and academics from the University of Groningen and other universities, as well as international legal experts from the United Nations system, international and non-governmental organizations, and other civil society entities.

Through a dedicated online platform, participants will have the opportunity to interact with internationally recognized experts and peers from all over the world, so as to build lasting professional relationships. This experience fosters intercultural dialogue and promotes a deeper understanding of the most salient issues related to illicit trade faced by the international community.


Relevant information
Online, 23-26 January 2023
Application deadline: 8 January 2023


1. Entry Requirements

The Winter School is designed for final year in the undergraduate studies, masters students, PhD students in Law, Political Science, International Relations, Economics, Social Science and other relevant disciplines, who are interested in learning more about illicit trade. It is also addressed to professionals working in governmental institutions, local authorities, international and non-governmental organizations seeking to deepen their understanding of current illicit trade issues.

A very good working knowledge of English is required.

Applications from students who expect to graduate from their Bachelor’s studies at the end of the 2023/24 academic year will also be considered.


2. Course Methodology

This course is delivered online. It combines live webinars in our virtual classroom, led by subject matter experts, with self-paced activities and interactive group discussions.

The live webinars are from 3:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. CET time (9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. EST), from Monday to Thursday. This is to create a 12-hours cycle during which participants and practitioners can attend the classes, plan their workload effectively, and interact with other participants to complete the course assignments.

The live webinars are conducted on a dedicated online platform. Participants need a computer (recommended) or a mobile device with microphone, audio and video capabilities, as well as a reliable internet connection. We recommend accessing audio through the computer. No special software is required. Upon acceptance to the course, participants will be provided with the information to access the platform.


3. How to Apply

  • Application deadline: please complete the application form by 8 January 2023. To apply visit the University of Groningen website.
  • Confirmation of acceptance: the results of the selection process will be communicated via email within 2 weeks following receipt of the application.
  • Payment deadline: the full payment has to be finalized within 1 week following the confirmation of acceptance. The University of Groningen is in charge of the payment procedure. For any questions on payments and for the receipt of the payment, please email


4. Registration Fees

500 EUR


5. Cancellation and Refunds

As per our general policy, in the case of cancellation of your participation, registration fees will not be refunded for any reason.

Given the current exceptional circumstances, however, full refund of the registration fees will be guaranteed should the cancellation be linked to the COVID-19 crisis (i.e. health problems of the participant or of their spouse/registered partner/children or parents). Evidence of such ground should be provided when requesting the refund.


6. Certificate of Attendance

Upon attendance of all live webinars and completion of the course activities and assignments, participants will receive a United Nations and University of Groningen certificate of participation.


7. ECTS Equivalence

Upon successful completion of the programme, participants can apply for recognition of 3 ECTS to the relevant authorities in their home institutions, therefore the final decision on awarding credits is subject to their home institutions grading system. Participants who wish to fulfil the equivalent work of 3 ECTS will need to deliver a written assignment to the University of Groningen within one month after the end of the Winter School. More detailed information can be requested at


8. Contacts

For further information please email: or (please indicate “Illicit Trade Winter School” in the subject of your message). Tel: +31 50 363 2901 / +31 628216256