History

The Jack and Mae Nathanson Centre on Transnational Human Rights, Crime and Security is the successor to the Jack and Mae Nathanson Centre for the Study of Organized Crime and Corruption, which was established in 1997 thanks to a gift by Mark Nathanson of $3 million to create a permanent endowment for the Centre. The vision for the Centre arose from conversations and a coincidence of commitment amongst Mr. Nathanson, his business partner in Forensic Investigations Associates (Rod Stamler, who had been Assistant Commssioner of the RCMP), and a leading investigative journalist covering organized crime first in Italy and then Canada (Antonio Nicaso: click and then go to “Profile” in lefthand column). Their collective vision of the Centre’s inaugural mandate (*: bottom of page) and the recruitment of Professor Margaret Beare as the Centre’s first Director produced a decade of highly influential research on organized crime and corruption.

Since its creation, the Nathanson Centre has become a major player – globally – in the study of such important subjects as organized crime, money laundering, and police practices. It has sponsored major conferences, books, symposia and other research, and offered graduate fellowships and training to scores of graduate students, who have themselves gone on to careers in the academic, policymaking, or law enforcement communities.

Discussions at Osgoode and York generated a consensus by 2006 that the Nathanson Centre should broaden its mandate so as to draw connections that had already become central to the Centre’s “organized crime” research, to such transnational phenomena as terrorism, human rights accountability of transnational economic and state actors, and security intelligence activity. It was felt that the first decade of Nathanson Centre work would provide a foundation for this expanded mandate, which should also include a more explicit theoretical focus. York’s Senate approved the revised mandate in 2006 along with the name change to the Nathanson Centre on Transnational Human Rights, Crime and Security. Benefactor Mark Nathanson fully supported the shift in mandate and gave the necessary endorsement for repurposing the endowed funds. This transition and renewal of the Centre was overseen by Professor Craig Scott, who served as the new Centre’s Director from 2006 until the end of 2011.

In 2012, Professor François Tanguay-Renaud assumed the Directorship of the Centre, after serving for three years as its Associate Director. Amongst other things, his appointment was intended to bolster the increasingly prominent theoretical focus of the Centre. Former Director Beare continues to lead the Centre’s Transnational Crime Research Node, along with Professor James Sheptycki.

* Original Mandate of the Nathanson Centre on Organized Crime and Corruption:

There is an urgent need for research, policy development, law reform and education in the field of organized crime and corruption. Domestic challenges have been enhanced by globalization, which generates new opportunities but also creates new vulnerability to organized crime and corruption. Since organized criminals seek out countries known to have less effective regulatory and enforcement systems, any jurisdiction that does not have adequate defences is at risk and may cause risk to other countries. As perhaps never before, the policies and enforcement capabilities of any one country have direct consequences globally.

The Nathanson Centre provides a focus for Osgoode Hall Law School and York University to contribute to deliberations about the control of organized crime and corruption and to public education about its manifestations. Empirical study will enhance understanding of organized crime operations and provide means of assessing proposed strategies for control and enforcement. The Centre’s research programme will be diverse and will reflect a balance among the issues relating to legal, operational, social, political, and economic aspects of organized crime and corruption. The Nathanson Centre is committed to exploring the challenge of organized crime and corruption, advancing knowledge, and informing policy on a broad range of issues, both domestic and international.