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Foreword | Drug Policies and Development: Conflict and Coexistence

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1We are pleased to introduce the 12th thematic issue of International Development Policy, Drug Policies and Development: Conflict and Coexistence.

2This thematic issue explores the challenges of drug policy in the context of development. It addresses the impacts of the war on drugs on vulnerable populations, the consequences of the new movement towards legalisation of recreational drugs, and the ‘stakeholders’ affected by drug policy. It also delves into specific policies and localised consequences, looking at how drug trafficking in conflict zones inhibits peace processes, and analysing practices adopted by governments and development practitioners to help small farmers and villages escape reliance on illicit cultivation for their livelihoods.

3The issue is composed of contributions from authors with a broad range of expertise and disciplinary approaches, including academic scholars, researchers, health professionals, policymakers and civil society actors. It contains research articles, case studies across different regions, and Policy Comments, which provide both high-level perspectives and on-the-ground viewpoints on the far-reaching implications of drug policy. These 15 diverse yet complementary pieces shed light on the paradoxes and blind spots of drug policies adopted at national and international levels, and on how these policies’ limitations can have significant impacts on a variety of populations. They draw attention to the progress made in drug policy development and implementation in recent years, but also urge the international community to continue putting these in the spotlight in order to address shortcomings.

4After an introduction on how drug control policies affect sustainable development, the collection is organised into three sections. The first section focuses on the context in which drug policies developed, and on how the history of the cross-border drug trade has affected current policies, and it addresses some of the impacts these policies have at every level—from local populations to the global drug market. The second section explores how drug policies affect and are affected by conflict and governance, and how these matters involve different types of stakeholders. It includes an interview with José Ramos-Horta, former President of Timor Leste and current Member of the Global Commission for Drug Policy (GCDP). Finally, the third section approaches the cross-cutting themes involved in drugs and development, such as the environmental impacts of intensive cannabis cultivation, and how drug policies affect women, children, public health and people who use drugs.

5Draft chapters were presented and discussed in an animated Author’s Workshop held in Geneva in October 2019. We would like to thank workshop participants for providing relevant input to the authors, and two anonymous peer reviewers for their insights, as well all those who commented on earlier drafts. Finally, we are grateful to the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Republic and State of Geneva - Service for International Solidarity (SSI) for their financial support.

6Our hope is that this volume will make a positive contribution to discussions on how drug policy affects the development process, and will be helpful in promoting debates among scholars, practitioners, policymakers and a broader audience interested in exploring how drugs and development coexist and conflict in policy debates and practices.

7The Editors

8Geneva, May 2020

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Foreword | Drug Policies and Development: Conflict and CoexistenceInternational Development Policy | Revue internationale de politique de développement [Online], 12 | 2020, Online since 31 August 2020, connection on 19 September 2021. URL:; DOI:

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International Development Policy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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