Currently viewing the tag: "Re-Framing the Debate"

In Africa and the War on Drugs, Carrier and Klantschnig provide an insightful overview of the history of African drug production, trade, consumption and policy, with a particular focus on khat and cannabis. While less informative on the history of the trade and use of heroin and cocaine, the book provides important insights into recent [...]

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The conventional wisdom is that those who profit most from conflict have a financial stake in its perpetuation and are therefore often labeled as “peace spoilers.” This is no doubt true in many cases. However, as evident in Bosnia, a different dynamic is also possible; one in which war profiteers can become stakeholders in peace. Many of those who did well from war—through theft and diversion of aid, sanctions evasion, arms trafficking and other forms of smuggling—were in the most privileged position to take advantage of the post-war rebuilding process.

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Drug-trafficking per se bears no direct relation to levels of criminal violence. In fact, the country that just over a decade ago was a key link in the European heroin trade, and which arguably now displays the clearest signs of weak and criminalized governance in Europe, Kosovo, has low rates for general crimes and for murder, as does all of the post-conflict Balkans. However, close analysis of countries where drug trafficking has become a major source of income and livelihood, as well as an illicit partner to security forces and the state, suggests there must be some sort of relationship between violence and transnational crime.

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In the law – as in technology and other areas – such weaknesses often fuel calls for more power, such as property seizure, conspiracy and racketeering authorities, as used in the U.S. against the mafia. But without a better foundation of information, strategy, and coordination, such laws will be limited and ultimately counter-productive. Such calls also reflect a common paradox in Latin American police reform: both success and failure in battling crime lead to demands for stronger and more policing. Policymakers’ continuing ability to ignore such a contradiction is emblematic of their inability to embrace the true complexity of transnational crime policing.

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Overall, we were unable to get Mexico’s story right because we focused our attention into usual suspects like state capacity, judicial institutions and the instability of the democratization processes rather than in the ways in which all these variables were affecting the informal rules under which the state and criminals interacted. We failed to realize that the core of this story lay in the subtle world of the informal and the formal, and in the not very subtle ways in which these institutional worlds shape each other.

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The dramatic reduction in opium poppy cultivation that has been achieved in the canal command area of central Helmand since 2008 is unsustainable. The absence of viable alternatives across much of the canal command area is fuelling resentment towards the government and resulting in both the relocation of production and those most disadvantaged by the ban into the former desert land north of the Boghra canal. High opium prices are exacerbating this process and establishing the economic incentives for the expansion of opium poppy cultivation into the area during the 2011/12 growing season.

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