HomeNewsBriefUK and Colombia Calls for Drug Policy Reform Put Pressure on US
BRIEF

UK and Colombia Calls for Drug Policy Reform Put Pressure on US

COLOMBIA / 7 FEB 2014 BY MARGUERITE CAWLEY EN

The United Kingdom's deputy prime minister has backed claims by Colombia's president that the so-called "war on drugs" is not working, a sentiment echoed throughout the Americas that may pressure the United States into a drug policy rethink.

Regarding the US-backed "war on drugs," President Juan Manuel Santos stated: "Unfortunately today we can say that we have not won it, despite the fact that Colombia has been the country, on one side, that has made the most sacrifices, has shed the most blood," reported EFE. He noted that Colombia's extensive experience combating the drug trade gives them a certain authority on the policy subject.

Santos has long questioned the current regime governing drug policy, stating in 2011 that he would accept legalization as a strategy if was necessary to "take away the violent profit that comes with drug trafficking."

During a recent visit to Colombia, UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg backed Santos' views, saying "nobody can say the world is winning the war against drugs" as he backed a new approach, reported El Tiempo.

InSight Crime Analysis

The addition of the United Kingdom -- one of the United States' principal global allies -- to growing calls for drug policy reform in Latin America could represent a watershed moment in the debate if it hastens a policy shift by the United States. Already former Latin American presidents and other notable political figures have signed initiatives to change the United Nations Convention on Drugs, while members of the Organization of American States (OAS) have agreed to debate current policy, and Uruguay recently passed a law regulating marijuana production and sales. Calls for alternative approaches led the UN to program a 2016 special drug policy summit.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Drug Policy

The United States has pumped billions into drug wars -- with significant focus on Colombia and Mexico -- that have resulted in thousands of deaths and human rights abuses without stemming the flow of narcotics. While the US has hailed Colombia as its shining example, so triumphant in this "war" it is now training and supplying other countries in the region, Santos' comments highlight how an element of myth surrounds this success story. The country's criminal landscape has changed, as have the key players, but criminal organizations like the Urabeños are still strong, violent and raking in hundreds of millions of dollars from the drug trade.

The United States has already begun to revise its own drug policy approach to focus on prevention and access to treatment, but as major partners continue to call for alternatives, the United States may be forced to take a more receptive and leading role in the global discussion.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 6 MAR 2019

Organized crime structures are known to be moving entire arsenals from Peru into Ecuador and on to armed groups within…

BRAZIL / 15 AUG 2013

Documents declassified by the government of Brazil say the US underestimated the potential for the deep links between the region's…

DRUG POLICY / 4 DEC 2015

Mexico's President Enrique Peña Nieto has reiterated his disapproval of legalizing marijuana in the country, setting the tables for a…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…

THE ORGANIZATION

Informing US State Department and European Union

1 APR 2022

InSight Crime Co-director McDermott briefed the US State Department and other international players on the presence of Colombian guerrillas in Venezuela and the implication this has for both nations.  McDermott…