Recent years have witnessed an unprecedented international mobilisation towards the elimination of the flow of 'dirty' money into the global financial system. International initiatives in the field first emerged in the late 1980s, in the context of the war on drugs, targeting the laundering of proceeds from drug trafficking. This was achieved via the 'traditional' route of an international Convention, leading to binding, 'hard' law obligations for the parties ratifying it. In parallel to that, the perceived threat of dirty money to the stability of the financial system, has led to the promulgation of 'soft' law instruments, in the form of ethical principles and recommendations, which were not legally binding but aimed at encouraging action by credit and financial institutions. Since then, both 'hard' and 'soft' law avenues have been used in the development of a global, multi-level anti-money-laundering regime, 1 with money laundering countermeasures being constantly updated and expanded. This chapter aims to examine the role and relationship between 'hard' and 'soft' law in the evolution of this example of legal globalisation, which has been legitimised through a securitisation discourse associating 'dirty' money with transnational threats such as corruption, organised crime and, lately, terrorism. By focusing on this ongoing 'securitisation' process, the chapter will critically evaluate the development of these measures and the challenges they pose to well-established legal principles, as well as society and the economy.
The first international attempts to counter money laundering were made in the context of the escalation of the 'war on drugs' in the 1980s. This decade was characterised by a policy shift - largely led by the United States - towards global repressive, law enforcement-led measures aimed at combating drug trafficking. This 'internationalisation' of the war on drugs