(formerly IRIN News) Journalism from the heart of crises

War on Drugs

After billions of dollars spent and countless lives lost, the war on drugs has been at best a misguided endeavor. IRIN explores the collateral damage wrought by global drug policy in developing countries.

Member of the newly trained Emergency Response Unit of the Liberian National Police, after identifying a suspect, conducts a search of his body for drugs and illegal weapons, during patrol downtown.
UN Photo/Christopher Herwig

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Billions of dollars later, countless lives lost and disfigured, policymakers are coming round to the idea that the war on drugs has been at best a misguided endeavour.

Latin American countries – which have borne the brunt of the violence and dislocation - are spearheading the demand for new thinking. Even in the United States, which for years had led the global crusade to stop the drugs trade by throttling supply, enthusiasm is waning. Some of its states are pursuing their own experiments in decriminalization of marijuana. 

It is not yet clear what the future of global drug policy will look like ahead of the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) in 2016, where member countries will debate the issue. 

But this In-Depth seeks to explore the flaws in the current architecture, and document the humanitarian impact – the collateral damage – wrought by those policies in developing countries.

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