Peace in Progress Nº 35

Bibliography on drug policy

The ICIP Library offers a wide variety of titles dealing with the issue of drug-related violence, from studies on organized crime to drug policiy. By clicking on this link you will find a selection.

The library, located at Carrrer Tapineria 10, 1st floor, in Barcelona, is a center specialized in issues of peace culture, security and conflicts. The library’s collection covers the following thematic areas: peace and nonviolence, armed conflicts, transformation and conflict resolution, international law, political science, international relations, security, disarmament, terrorism, development cooperation, social movements and environmental policies.

Taking stock: a decade of drug policy- a civil society shadow report

The report Taking stock: a decade of drug policy- a civil society shadow published by the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) evaluates the consequences of implemented drug policies around the world during the last 10 years. It is based on data provided by the UN as well as other sources.

The purpose of this report is to contribute constructively to high-level debates on global drug policy over the next decade. Firstly, it highlights the need to carry out a more detailed and regular research on the consequences of drug policies at local, national, regional and international levels. Secondly, it questions the sources of information currently used to develop reports submitted by governments. The report points out that in order to draw a more complete and balanced scenario of the situation it is essential to add academic and civil society studies. Thirdly, the document approaches the lack of progress made in the achievements of specific goals for a drug-free world.

It concludes that the objectives established in the action plan and the political declaration of 2009 have not been achieved and, in some cases, the policies that have been adopted are contradictory. It also offers some recommendations to continue discussing about what objectives and measurement systems could be studied in the post-2019 global drug policy strategy.

The Politics of Drug Violence, by Angélica Durán-Martínez

The Politics of Drug Violence. Criminals, Cops and Politicians in Colombia and Mexico (Oxford University Press, 2018) goes beyond the usual ways to explain violence related to drug trafficking. It argues that drug violence is the result of complex interactions between states and criminal actors and establishes that the cohesion of the state security apparatus together with the level of competition existing in the illegal drug market are determining factors in the use of violence by drug traffickers.

The author emphasizes that in the study of this phenomenon, we should not only focus on the frequency of violence, but also on its visibility. Her thesis is based on an empirical analysis of five cities that have been the headquarters of the main drug trafficking organizations of the last four decades: Cali and Medellin in Colombia, and Ciudad Juarez, Culiacan and Tijuana in Mexico.

UNODC, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is the UN agency that leads the global fight against illicit drugs, organized crime and terrorism. The main objective of the UNODC is to contribute, together with the states, to address threats that are warning governance and social stability and that undermine the basic conditions necessary to incentive human development. The UNODC carries out three main functions: research, pressure on governments to adopt laws and treaties against crime and drugs, and technical assistance to these governments to implement drug control policies.

Among its successes we can find the resolutions that led to the origins of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols, aimed to combating human trafficking and the illicit trafficking of weapons at the international level.

UNODC publishes the World Drug Report annually. The 2018 report (see executive summary) illustrates the magnitude and complexity of global drug markets and notes that drug-related deaths are on the rise.

Global Commission on Drug Policy

The Global Commission on Drug Policy was established in January 2011 by a group of global personalities with the aim of defending drug policies based on scientific evidence, human rights, public health and security. It is made up of former heads of State or Government as well as other experienced and well-known leaders from political, economic and cultural fields.

The Commission produces technical and political reports on human rights, health and development. The political reports focus on the reform of drug policy and provide recommendations to different countries in areas such as decriminalization; health and security; alternatives to incarceration for low-level people involved in the production, transportation or sales; smarter measures against violent organizations and political innovations such as regulated and legal markets. The technical reports have included the intersection between the war on drugs and HIV / AIDS; drug control, public health and hepatitis C; and the lack of access to controlled medicines. These reports are intended to help governments, international, regional and local organizations, and journalists to better understand the drug control system and motivate humane and effective ways to reduce the harm caused by drug prohibition.

In the first annual report, published in 2011, the Commission broke the taboo on the negative consequences of the so-called "war on drugs" and opted for a paradigm shift that gave priority to health and security. Subsequent reports have focused, for example, on how the punitive approach to drugs and criminalization of people who consume do not help stopping the spread of HIV / AIDS and hepatitis C.

The 2018 report analyses in detail how governments can take control of illegal drug markets through responsible regulation, and thus weaken criminal organizations.

Organizations working on drug violence and drug policy

The number of organizations and research centers working on issues related to drug policy and drug violence is increasing. To get an idea of the work that has been done so far in this area, it is worth to take a look at the number of entities that are members of the International Drug Policy Consortium, a worldwide network created in 2007 to promote an open and objective debate on drug policy. Today it joins 187 members and keeps growing gradually.

In this section we highlight a few of the many organizations dealing with the subject in question, without detracting from the quality and quantity of the work done by the others.

The Open Society Foundation works on building tolerant societies and responsible governments opened to citizen participation, strengthening the rule of law: respecting human rights, minorities, and diversity of opinions by promoting democratically elected governments; and civil societies that help maintaining the legitimacy of these governments throughout the world. Since 2008 it has been carrying out a world drug policy program and working with politicians and groups that advocate for the end of injustices originated by the war on drugs, through research, dialogue, commitment and action. The organization has offices as well as national and regional foundations located all over the world.

The Igarapé Institute is headquartered in Rio de Janeiro, with staff scattered throughout Brazil, Colombia and Mexico. Founded in 2011, it has the support of bilateral agencies, foundations, international organizations and private donors around the world. It works as an independent think tank dedicated to evidence-based policies and actions on complex security, justice and development challenges in Brazil, Latin America and Africa. The Institute coordinates various networks and initiatives focused on reforming drug policy and introducing more effective solutions for health, human rights and development. It acts as the Latin American Office for the Global Commission on Drug Policies.

Transnational Institute is an NGO of a consultative nature, registered as a non-profit foundation, based in the Netherlands. It works to strengthen international social movements with rigorous studies, reliable information, analysis and constructive proposals to promote a progressive and democratic change of common policies and solutions to global problems. The institute acts as a link between social movements, committed academics and policy makers. Its program "Drugs and Democracy" analyzes drug policies and examines the causes of drug production and consumption, and the repercussions of current anti-drug policies on development and democracy.

The International Centre on Human Rights and Drug Policy, based in the University of Essex, United Kingdom, is mainly focused on the study of human rights and drug policies with the aim of promoting and disseminating scholarships and international legal research on this subject that highlights the obligations of governments and international organizations to respect, protect and fulfill human rights in the context of drug policy. During the last year, the center has analyzed the United Nations human rights mechanisms on drug policy to evaluate current standards and to identify the regulatory gaps that require further development.

The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) is an organization based in Washington D.C specialized in research and promotion of human rights in Latin America. Its mission is to achieve a continent in which public policies protect human rights and recognize human dignity, and where justice prevails over violence. It has a specific program on drug policy through which the organization works on issues such as the debate on the reform of drug policy in the Americas; women incarcerated for drug-related crimes; the regulation of cannabis; and the relationship between coca cultivation and development in the Andes.

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