Latin America has emerged at the vanguard of efforts to promote debate on drug policy reform. For decades, Latin American governments largely followed the drug control policies and programmes of Washington’s so-called war on drugs. Growing frustration with the failure of the prohibitionist drug control model put forward by the US government has led to a review of policies and a  questioning of the underlining premises of the international drug control paradigm. The call for debate on alternative approaches has had repercussions internationally.

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  • Latin American members of the International Drug Policy Consortium call for new approaches to drug control strategies

    International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC)
    June 26, 2012

    In this declaration, organizations based in or working on Latin America and members of the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) claim the democratic and sovereign right of their countries to make any necessary corrections to current drug policy and call on the international community, meeting in the Thematic Debate of the 66th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on Drugs and Crime as a Threat to Development on the Occasion of the UN International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, and the International Conference of Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Heads of Specialized National Agencies on the Global Drug Problem, to make profound reforms to current drug policies.

    application-pdfDownload the declaration (PDF)

  • A breakthrough in the making?

    Shifts in the Latin American drug policy debate

    There is a growing recognition that current war-like strategies have failed. At the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena in April the Organisation of American States (OAS) was given a mandate to study the effectiveness of current drug policies and look into alternatives. Using the political momentum, next steps can be discussed at both a high level international conference in Lima on June 25-26, and the thematic debate of the UN General Assembly on 'Drugs and Crime as a Threat to Development' in New York on the occasion of the UN International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking on June 26. The Drugs & Democracy Programme sheds its light on policy developments in Latin America with a new briefing "A Breakthrough in the making?".

  • A breakthrough in the making?

    Shifts in the Latin American drug policy debate
    Amira Armenta Pien Metaal Martin Jelsma
    Series on Legislative Reform of Drug Policies Nr. 21
    June 2012

    Remarkable drug policy developments are taking place in Latin America. This is not only at the level of political debate, but is also reflected in actual legislative changes in a number of countries. All in all there is an undeniable regional trend of moving away from the ‘war on drugs’. This briefing ex­plains the background to the opening of the drug policy debate in the region, summa­rises the most relevant aspects of the on­going drug law reforms in some countries, and makes a series of recommendations that could help to move the debate forward in a productive manner.

    application-pdfDownload the briefing (PDF)

  • Latin America debates alternatives to current drug policy

    Prohibition-led policies and the devastating consequences in the region

    The debate on alternatives to the war on drugs has seen a tremendous boost in recent months. Disappointed about the meager results of prohibition-led policies and the devastating consequences of the illicit drug business in the region, several presidents have taken the initiative to bring the issue to one of the highest level intergovernmental meeting in the hemisphere. The Sixth Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, is the most important meeting of heads of states where, for the first time, alternatives to prohibition will be discussed.

  • Toward a Paradigm Shift

    Prohibitionist policies based on the eradication of production and on the disruption of drug flows as well as on the criminalization of consumption have not yielded the desired results. We are further than ever from the announced goal of eradicating drugs.

    Breaking the taboo, acknowledging the failure of current policies and their consequences is the inescapable prerequisite for the discussion of a new paradigm leading to safer, more efficient and humane drug policies.

    Drugs and Democracy: Toward a Paradigm Shift
    Statement by the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy
    February 2009


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