Request for research proposals
Detecting and countering illicit financial flows – second call

United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER) together with the Development Economics Research Group at the University of Copenhagen (UCPH-DERG) invite proposals for papers examining the challenge of illicit financial flows. Proposals from individuals (or groups of individuals) as well as non-profit organizations are welcome. Submission deadline: 15 March 2022, 23:59 UTC+2.

See the full Request for Research Proposals


Illicit financial flows (IFFs) constitute a major development challenge for countries in the Global South. While tax revenues relative to GDP have increased, they remain low compared to high-income countries, partly because these countries are deprived of big amounts of money due to IFFs. Without adequate revenue to spend, states are limited in providing crucial public services such as education, healthcare, and infrastructure. Second, since IFFs are inherently associated with international transactions, they potentially result in unfair competition for domestic firms and a severe misallocation of resources. Third, hiding wealth is primarily done by the richest households, thereby increasing inequality in society. Fourth, perceptions about other people evading or complying with taxes may create either a vicious circle of reduced or a positive circle of increased tax compliance.

Under its Domestic Revenue Mobilization programme, the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics (UNU-WIDER) together with the Development Economics Research Group at the Department of Economics of the University of Copenhagen (UCPH-DERG), with support from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), are requesting research proposals as part of the Detecting and Countering Illicit Financial Flows project to improve the understanding of illicit financial flows (IFFs) in the Global South. The project seeks to address the challenge of IFFs by investigating the magnitude of these flows, the channels through which they flow, and the policy responses that may dampen the flows. The aim is to expand the research frontier and provide knowledge for the governments of developing countries in support of policies, which will increase revenue collection.

Innovative proposals addressing how developing countries can take new policy measures to reduce the volume of IFFs are welcome, and proposals addressing the ‘who and why’ alongside the ‘how and how much’ in relation to illicit financial flows are encouraged.

Offer and expectations

UNU-WIDER invites proposals from qualified researchers for papers examining the challenge of analysing and countering illicit financial flows. The aim is that these papers will be published in high-quality journals after publication in the WIDER Working paper series. The papers need to be written in English, and should be limited to 10,000 words maximum inclusive of everything (text, tables, figures, footnotes, references).

Proposals from individuals (or groups of individuals) as well as non-profit organizations are welcome. Applications from suitably-qualified women and developing country researchers are particularly encouraged.

All successful applicants are expected to attend a 1-2 day workshop in 2023 (date and venue TBD) where final results will be presented and discussed. The costs of attending this workshop will be borne by UNU-WIDER in accordance with United Nations University travel policy. It is also planned to hold a virtual or in-person workshop after first drafts of the successful proposals have been received in mid-2022 for authors to present and receive feedback.

Read the full announcement for more information.

Dates (Eastern European Time – EET)
17 January 2022 Announcement published
1 March 2022 Final opportunity for questions on the request for research proposals
15 March 2022 Proposals due
31 March 2022 Target date for informing on funding decisions
30 April 2022 Target date for completion of necessary administrative procedures
30 July 2022 Target date for submission of first drafts of papers
15 November 2022 Target date for submission of final papers
2023 Workshop (date and venue TBD)
Proposal submission details

Submission of proposals is done electronically by using a form on the RFRP announcement page. There are three forms to select from: one for individuals, another for groups of individuals, and a third for non-profit organizations. Details (such as address, gender, nationality, date of birth) of all researchers involved is to be entered onto the form and the cover page, the proposal, and short CVs (five pages or less) of researcher/s uploaded. Please familiarize yourself with the form in advance.

Any questions on the proposal process should be sent to by 1 March 2022. Selected queries and responses will be published on the RFRP announcement page.

See full request for research proposals