Global Drug Report: Don’t Just Decriminalize, Demilitarize

A report released earlier this month by former heads of state and other global political figures made headlines across the world for calling the drug war a failure and for its endorsement of the decriminalization of drugs, including heroin and cocaine.

However, one of the report’s major criticisms, its critique of the militarization of the drug war, was largely neglected by the media.

“All out militarized enforcement responses have, counter-intuitively, undermined security in places like Afghanistan, Colombia, and Mexico,” said the Global Commission on Drug Policy in its report, Taking Control: Pathways to Drug Policies That Work.

The commission, which released its report on September 9, includes former presidents like Brazil’s Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Mexico’s Ernesto Zedillo, as well as former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan and George P. Schultz, who served as US secretary of state in the Reagan administration.

The report also stated, “Militarized enforcement responses have sometimes led to infiltration and corruption of governments, armies and police by cartels, and a culture of impunity for human rights abuses, especially extra-judicial killings and disappearances.”

These critiques have a significant relevance in Latin America, where US-led policies like Plan Colombia and the Merida Initiative in Mexico, the two major theaters in the war on drugs in the region, have had a tremendous toll on human rights in both countries while barely making a dent in curtailing drug trafficking to the United States. Last week’s Colombian Senate debate about former President Alvaro Uribe, who led the drug war in his country between 2002 and 2010, and his alleged links to paramilitaries and drug trafficking, serves as a perfect example supporting the commission’s claims of corruption, human rights abuses and impunity.

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