As the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) prepares to open its 16th conference in Tehran this Sunday, attention has focused on who will be attending (UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and new Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi ), who’s not attending (new North Korean leader Kim Jong-un) and what the implications will be for Iran, as the host country, in avoiding isolation over its nuclear programme.
Yet there is more to the movement.
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The security architecture of Latin American is inadequate to prevent further military escalation in the region, said Professor David Mares at the IISS-US launch of the Adelphi Book, Latin America and the Illusion of Peace. Mares, professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego argued that Latin American nations must find different options for building a better architecture that would make the threat of force an unacceptable option and stress the necessity of Latin America as a zone of peace. He was joined at the launch by Michael Shifter, president of Inter-American Dialogue, who offered a more optimistic outlook for peace in the region.
Violence related to the illegal drugs trade should prompt a rethink of global drugs policy, IISS Director for Transnational Threats and Political Risk Nigel Inkster and IISS Research Analyst Virginia Comolli said at the US launch of their Adelphi book, Drugs, Insecurity and Failed States: The Problems of Prohibition, at IISS-US last week.
As Inkster and Comolli explained, the prohibition of drugs was originally intended to reduce social ills associated with drug use. However, because drugs fell into the class of goods that were easy to conceal during transport, the global ‘prohibition regime’ had not succeeded in its purpose. Rather, it has only served to create a lucrative and illegal drugs smuggling industry.
By Virginia Comolli, Research Analyst, IISS
The summit took place in the Colombian city of Cartagena on 14–15 April, and included 34 regional heads of state. It followed months of anticipation during which presidents and senior politicians from the countries most affected by drug-related violence had spoken out in favour of a review of the prohibition regime and the end of the ‘war on drugs’ in its current form. The consensus among them was that the existing one-size-fits-all approach structured around strong law-enforcement measures has had many unintended negative consequences, especially in the developing world.
Since pushing the need for a new approach to drugs control at the annual session in Vienna of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in March 2012, President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia has become a key spokesperson on drug-policy reform. His country has first-hand experience of the corruption, violence and instability that the drugs trade can bring.
Colombia’s ambassador to London and aide to the president, Mauricio Rodriguez Munera, has been just as vocal as Santos in his calls for a new approach to the drugs trade. In recent interviews he has stressed that while there is no doubt that the war on drugs has failed, a wholly convincing alternative model does not yet exist. Rodriguez has suggested that any new examination of policy should be led by experts and based on facts, and should avoid the high emotion of celebrity-led debates. It should also take into account the needs of those who are suffering as a result of current policy.
This shift of opinion coincides with the launch of the latest Adelphi book Drugs, Insecurity and Failed States: the Problems of Prohibition which provides hard evidence of the impact of prohibition on drug-producing states, such as Colombia and Afghanistan, and transit zones such as Mexico, Central America and West Africa. Nigel Inkster and Virginia Comolli show how the war on drugs has penalised weak states by placing disproportionate focus on disrupting the supply of narcotics while not enough responsibility is being taken by consumer nations. The authors argue in favour of a new paradigm whereby greater efforts and more funding are channelled into development and education, and suggest that public-health programmes, rather than the criminal-justice system, should be the driving force in dealing with narcotics.
As international security forces prepare to depart from Afghanistan, the latest Adelphi book examines the country’s ability to tackle its security problems, overcome corruption and revive its devastated economy. The government faces daunting challenges, ranging from insurgency and cross-border terrorism to the difficulty of reconciling Taliban figures and combatants into a political settlement. It must also cope with persistent regional instability, with its neighbours tempted to step up their interference in Afghan affairs.
The book also contains a chapter dedicated to maps and infographics explaining key demographic, military and economic issues. In this free sample map, we show how the international community has worked together to help develop Afghanistan’s transport infrastructure despite the ever present threat of IEDs and insurgent attacks.
‘For those of us who care about the importance of Afghanistan and worry about its future and thus for our own safety, this book makes fascinating and essential reading.’ Lord Robertson, former Secretary-General of NATO
The book will be launched in London on Wednesday January 11 at 12.30-13.30. Read more