5 times bigger than aid: important new research on drugs as a (missing) development issue

A couple of years ago I reported on an excellent meeting at Christian Aid on drugs as a development issue. They have continued that work and today published an important new paper by Eric Gutierrez, ‘Drugs and Illicit Practices: assessing their impact on development and governance’.

The paper argues that the illicit drug trade is a ‘major blind spot in development thinking’, and uses in-depth case studies from Afghanistan, Colombia, Mali and Tajikistan to explore the issues. Some highlights:

Scale: Even on its own terms, the ‘war on drugs’ clearly isn’t working – the international illicit drug trade is now worth an estimated $449bn to $674bn a year (UN figures), up to five times more than the global aid budget.

The problem: ‘Rather than recognise the fact that the illicit drugs trade is woven into the very fabric of many societies, the prevailing counternarcotics narrative and the core analysis of...

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