Mark is the Director of the Centre of Criminology & SARChI Chair: Secuirity & Justice.

Prof. Mark Shaw


Professor Mark Shaw, Director of The Centre of Criminology, UCT


Mark Shaw also holds the South African National Research Foundation (NRF) Chair in Security and Justice. Appointed to the Centre in September 2014, Mark’s aims to strengthen and improve research and innovation in the field of security and justice in South Africa, to build capacities required for research that will enhance explanatory and normative understanding of African security and justice, and to develop networks of scholars and practitioners.

Prior to joining the Centre of Criminology, Mark was a director at a boutique consulting firm specialising in fragile states and transnational threats. Mark led projects and provided technical assistance, which focused on security sector and criminal justice reform and countering transnational threats, to national governments, bilateral donors and international organisations in Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, West Africa, the Sahel and Southern Africa. Mark worked for ten years at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), including as inter-regional advisor, chief of the Criminal Justice Reform Unit, and with the Global Programme against Transnational Organised Crime. Prior to joining the UN, held positions in the South African government and civil society where he worked on issues of public safety and urban violence in the post-apartheid transition.

Mark has extensive experience working on peace-building, conflict prevention, security sector reform and crime prevention issues in transitional, fragile and post-conflict states and providing substantive expertise to international policy dialogues. He has served as an advisory board member of the Open Society Justice Initiative, a member of the Experts Council of the International Network to Promote the Rule of Law (INPROL); senior consultant for the International Peace Institute and the United States Institute of Peace; and a senior research fellow at the Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies. He is on the editorial board of Acta Criminologica and The Howard Journal of Crime and Justice (from 2016).

He holds a PhD from the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

Research Interests:

Mark’s specialised research is in transnational organised crime and criminal networks, and their impact on governance and the community.  His research focuses on criminal markets in South Africa, on illicit economies and their impact on governance and development in Africa, as well as the international architecture to respond to transnational organized crime.  He has published widely on these topics, as well as on broader security and justice reform issues.




Crime and Deviance in South African Cities PBL2800F

Issues in Crime & Justice: Organised Non-state Violence in Africa PBL5660S 

 Recent Publications:


M. Shaw, ‘Drug trafficking in Guinea-Bissau 1998-2014: the evolution of an elite protection network,’ Journal for Modern African Studies, Vol. 53:3, September 2015, pp.339-364

S. Ellis and M. Shaw, ‘Is there organised crime in Africa?’  African Affairs, Vol. 114 (457), October 2015

M. Shaw and F. Mangan, ‘Enforcing our law when the state breaks down: the case of protection economies in Libya and their political consequences,’ Hague Journal for the Rule of Law, September 2015, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 99-110

M. Shaw, and T. Reitano, ‘The Political Economy of Trafficking and Trade in the Sahara: Instability and Opportunities’, World Bank Saharan Knowledge Exchange Series, July 2014

M. Shaw, ‘Organised crime in Africa’, in P. Reichel and J. Albanese (eds), Handbook of Transnational Crime and Justice, London, Sage, 2013.