Countering Transnational Organized Crime in the spotlight at GCMC

U.S. Ambassador Eric Nelson, the Ambassador-In-Residence at CTOC Graduation

Countering Transnational Organized Crime in the spotlight at GCMC

More than 80 participants received their graduation certificates during the final ceremony of the Program on Countering Transnational Organized Crime held at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies Mar. 9.

CTOC is a 24-day course created to cover major transnational organized crime-related issues, and is one of the Marshall Center’s largest in-residence courses. 

“We bring you together because transnational organized crime represents a national security threat to each and every one of our countries,” said U.S. Ambassador Eric Nelson, the Ambassador-In-Residence at the Marshall Center, speaking to attendees from 42 different countries. 

As Marshall Center professor for transnational security studies and academic advisor for CTOC Cüneyt Gürer explained it, the program helps participants to “understand the connection between political regimes, democracies versus non-democracies or authoritarian regimes, and how transnational organized crime groups actually become part of the geopolitics.”

“It’s about organized criminal groups, it’s about drug trafficking, it’s about human trafficking, human smuggling,” he said. “The most important thing we provide here is (opportunity for) critical thinking.”

One of the highlights of the course was hearing a series of lectures from senior Italian government officials on the challenges they’ve faced with the mafia and how they’ve been able to succeed.

“We also bring you together and reinvent this course year after year because transnational organized crime is constantly evolving,” Nelson said. “These organizations are some of the most entrepreneurial that we are up against.”

This year's attendees included 26 women, or 32% of the participants, a deliberate effort by the program directors to advance the women, peace and security agenda.

"It's important that we integrate WPS into all aspects of countering transnational organized crime," said Deputy Course Director Robert Knotts.

Once the participants complete the program, they become part of a network of alumni numbering over 15,000.

“Sharing their experiences and committing to the globally embowered network is one of the things we hope to accomplish throughout the course,” Knotts said.


The George C. Marshall Center for Security Studies, founded on June 5, 1993, is a renowned international security and defense studies institute. A bilateral partnership between the U.S. and Germany, it is a lasting cooperation that promotes dialogue and understanding among the nations of North America, Europe and Eurasia. In 2023, the Marshall Center marks its 30th anniversary, re-emphasizing its commitment to carrying Marshall’s vision, an enduring legacy that continues through the security education initiatives of the Center.