PhD Student, Department of Constitutional Law and Political Science, Universidad de Valencia
THE ROLE OF TRADE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN REDUCING THE SUPPLY OF ILLICIT DRUGS IN COLOMBIA: AN EFFECTIVE INTERNATIONAL MODEL OF SHARED RESPONSIBILITY?
My Ph.D. research analyses the ways in which trade and economic development policies operate and interact at three different levels of Colombia’s counter-narcotics policy framework: the local, national and international level. As such, it offers a unique systemic approach to the analysis of development-driven counter-narcotics policy for the period of 2000-2011.
The research will also be the first to assess to what extent the principle of shared responsibility is invoked at the international level to assist Colombia in decreasing its supply of illegal drugs. The notion of shared responsibility has often been called upon by policy makers as a reason for international cooperation to rein in drug production or trafficking in countries or regions, but there has been no research into how this principle is applied and whether it goes beyond political rhetoric. For example, a recent round-table of Member States at the United Nations’ Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in which I participated showed that there is an urgent need to put more ‘flesh on the bone’ of the principle to provide for a more meaningful utilisation of the concept. This academic research attempts to help embody the principle of shared responsibility in the context of Colombia.
Lastly, the research investigates whether Colombia’s counter-narcotics policy as implemented over the past decade (2000-2011) should be regarded as a model of development-driven supply reduction strategies in the field of counter-narcotics policy. It is of key importance to know whether the country’s focus on trade and economic development policies to reduce the supply of illicit drugs could be applied in other countries with existing problems of illicit crop cultivation – such as Afghanistan – or new countries that will develop such cultivation in the future.
Another innovative aspect of my Ph.D. research is an exploration of ways in which positive lessons for Afghanistan can be drawn from Colombia’s long experience in reducing drug production; Afghanistan only started its current counter-narcotics policy in 2003 and has very limited experience with trade and development-driven strategies. Generally speaking, comparisons between the two countries have largely resulted in harmful policy recommendations such as coca crop eradication through aerial spraying – a strategy that in Colombia and elsewhere has had little sustainable results and diverse negative side effects. It is time to construct a more positive comparative framework.
Graduated in International Relations in the Netherlands, I worked for more than two years at the political section of the Netherlands´ Embassy in Madrid (2003-2005). Part of my portfolio were Spain’s bilateral relations with Morocco, Algeria and Cuba, the policy issues Gibraltar, Western Sahara, domestic and international terrorism, counter-narcotics policy, and Spain’s regional politics.
Partly overlapping my interesting and inspiring time at the Netherlands’ Embassy in Madrid, I have been working with the International Council on Security and Development (ICOS, previously known as The Senlis Council ) since October 2003. I have been working extensively in Kabul and southern Afghanistan (mainly Kandahar and Helmand provinces). More recently, in 2011, I have also worked in the provinces of Parwan, Panjshir and Herat.
My work in Afghanistan entails policy analysis, field research and delivering food and medical aid. Concerning counter-narcotics policy, I worked on lobbying campaigns to improve European drug policy, built relationships on the matter with the movement of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of Europe. I have also been actively involved in the “Poppy for Medicine” project, which foresees the licensing of Afghan poppy farmers to produce an Afghan brand of morphine to meet the country’s unmet needs for painkillers.
Building on eight years of relevant work and field research experience in the field of counter-narcotics policy, I started my Ph.D. in 2008 at the Department of Constitutional Law and Political Science at the University of Valencia in Spain.
International Council on Security and Development (ICOS): http://www.icosgroup.net/
Poppy for Medicine project: http://www.poppyformedicine.net