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03/01/2023 - 03/01/2023 | Hamburg

GIGA Forum – After the War on Drugs: New Approaches to Old Challenges

The “War on Drugs” has been declared a failure. In the face of “harm reduction,” drug use is today treated more as an issue of public health than one of criminal policy. At this GIGA Forum, our experts discuss the changing discourses and policy stances towards illegal drugs in Europe, Latin America, as well as globally.

In 2009, the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy declared that the “War on Drugs” had failed. Its legacies of heavy-handed, prohibitionist policies, militarisation, and human rights abuses, however, continue to plague the Global South. At the same time, several countries in the Americas and Europe are moving towards a harm-reduction approach in their domestic policies that treat illegal drugs more as an issue of public health than one of criminal policy. Some have gone even further and legalised certain drugs altogether.

Under the Joe Biden Administration, the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs witnessed the first statement by the United States last year conveying the concept of “harm reduction.” The latter could create a more permissive space for drug-policy innovation in the Americas. Meanwhile, the new government coalition in Germany has vowed to legalise cannabis and has already published a document with some key reform points, which could significantly impact regulations in Europe and abroad. However, as of now, it is not clear whether and how the global “War on Drugs” will be replaced by a less harmful alternative.

This GIGA Forum discusses the changing discourses and policy stances towards illegal drugs in Europe, Latin America, as well as globally. What are the drivers of these transformations in both the Global North and the Global South? What are the obstacles to a more effective and less harmful drug policy? What are the potential alternative pathways beyond the international “War on Drugs,” and is there room for change beyond the national level?

Catalina Niño is the Director of the Cooperation on Regional Security Program of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.

Maximilian Funke is researcher at the Institute of Political Science, University of Münster.

Dr. Yulia Vorobyeva is lecturer at the Florida International University.

Dr. Rafael Castro Alegría is a Research Fellow at the GIGA Institute for Latin American Studies.

Information on participating / attending:
Please register. All registered participants will receive further information with details of the online event and a link to participate.


03/01/2023 16:00 - 03/01/2023 17:30

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Verena Schweiger


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