Conscription in the War on Drugs: Recent reforms to the U.S. drug certification process

Julie Ayling

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    The use of a listing and certification process has been a critical part of coercive strategies used by the United States (U.S.) to further its drug control policies internationally. Through this process, the U.S. has conscripted drug-producing and drug-transiting states into the War on Drugs. Non-cooperative states have been threatened with a combination of aid and trade sanctions. Recently, changes were made to the certification process in response to both domestic pressures and widespread criticisms that the process was ineffective, hypocritical and unfair, fostered conflict, was applied inconsistently and arbitrarily, and emphasised military solutions to the drug problem at the expense of human rights. This paper explores those changes and questions whether they have answered these criticisms. The author concludes that the reforms are for the most part cosmetic, designed to ensure that the process is more palatable because it is more nuanced. The linkage now being made between the War on Drugs and the War on Terror ensures that decision-makers in the U.S. will continue to think of the drug problem as a national security issue and of U.S. drug policy as a weapon. Coercion remains fundamental to U.S. strategy for international illicit drug control. It is this that will ensure continued subscription by the majority of states to the tenets of the U.S.'s War on Drugs with ongoing implications for human rights and poverty in targeted countries.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)376-383
    JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
    Publication statusPublished - 2005


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