Researching Security Fellows at the LINKSCH Conference in Brussels

Our Researching Security Fellows Kari Mariska Pries, Verena Brähler and Jorrit Kamminga were invited to participate in the LINKSCH Conference: Grasping The Links In the Chain: Understanding the Unintended Consequence of International Counter-Narcotics Measures for the EU, held in Brussels from 19 – 20 June 2014.

This is how the conference organisers Dr Alex Marshall and Dr Arantza Gomez Arana from the University of Glasgow explained the idea of the LINKSCH project:

“Since the end of the Cold War, there has been an explosion in the international drugs market. The need to reform existing international counter-narcotics policies is widely accepted. However, the impact of these policies in transit chain countries located between source and market is poorly understood. This lack of understanding remains an obstacle to eliminating the unintended consequences of current policies […]. By building on the results of the study, the aim is to produce policy recommendations for a more comprehensive set of counter-narcotics policies that are able to minimise the proliferation of unintended consequences.”

Our Researching Security Fellows were invited to the conference in order to provide a Latin American perspective on international counter-narcotics policies. Kari Mariska Pries explains:

“International counter-narcotics policies have long been a source of contention for origin and transit chain countries. The United States has advanced a “war on drugs” in Latin America, spending billions of dollars on counterdrug aid packages and actively engaging with target government security forces and policy officials. Over several decades, the impact of such international measures has been felt through myriad unintended consequences from the local community level to shifting dynamics of violence, crime and corruption throughout the region.

Not surprisingly, it is in Latin America where we now witness a political movement that increasingly advocates for more effective, humanitarian, and pragmatic drug policies. The latest results are the Report of The Drug Problem in the Americas, which was presented by the Organization of American States in May 2012 and contains several scenarios for drug policy reform, the move towards legalization of the cannabis market in Uruguay, and the decision of Bolivia to withdraw temporarily from the United Nations’ Single Convention on Drugs to change its national reservation on the traditional use of the coca leaf.

In the Andean region, coca eradication programs have alienated rural communities, while spreading cultivation to new areas. Similarly, countries like Brazil, Colombia and Mexico continue to conduct armed forays into criminal strongholds, forcing criminals to migrate to other parts of the cities or to the interior. Less equipped countries such as El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua are more dependent on collaboration with the United States but, nonetheless, mount campaigns against ever encroaching cartels such as Los Zetas or the Texis Cartel.”

Together we proposed to organise a panel on “Chasing Demons or Creating Them? The Unintended Consequences of International Counter-Narcotics Policy in Latin America”. The objective of the panel was to address how international anti-narcotic policies have:
(1) shaped experiences of security and violence in key countries throughout the region; and (2) influenced policy development and implementation perspectives from local communities to regional organisations.

Our conference presentations can be found on our website:

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