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CIC Vancouver: Changing International Dynamics for Drug Control

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SFU Harbour Centre

HC2245 - 515 W Hastings St

Vancouver, BC V6B 5K3

Canada

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The CIC Vancouver would like to thank the Simon Fraser University School for International Studies for hosting and co-sponsoring this event.

In the build-up to the UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS) in April 2016, optimism for policy reform reached fever pitch. Daily news articles highlighted the failures of the so-called ‘war on drugs’ overseen by the League of Nations and, later, the UN for the past century. Many hoped there would be a systemic redrawing of global drug control lines, that the old treaty system would be remodelled to reflect a new progressive approach and narrative. Perhaps unsurprisingly this did not emerge. Instead, the result was a diplomatic fudge, which watered down the uniformity of states’ obligations towards uniform controls and acknowledged that greater national autonomy would prevail in global drug-policy discourses.

Even though the outcome may not have been what optimists had hoped for, UNGASS will still have lasting significance. This is because, in many ways, it ushered in a new era of international drug control, and did so relatively swiftly. Whereas the past century had seen a move towards drug policy universalism, UNGASS represents a step towards pluralism which allows for different policies in different contexts. It also enables rigorously monitored policy and regulatory experimentation, which would then provide the evidence base necessary for more fundamental reforms at the international level. This lecture will discuss the changing shape of international drug diplomacy and its impact on both the move away from a global war on drugs and shift to greater national autonomy in pursuing new policies such as cannabis legalization and other new modes of drug control.

About the Speaker

Dr. John Collins

Dr. Collins is Executive Director of the LSE’s International Drug Policy Unit (IDPU), a Fellow of the LSE US Centre and a Distinguished Visiting Fellow of the Yale Centre for the Study of Globalization.

He is also Coordinator and Contributing Editor for the LSE Expert Group on the Economics of Drug Policy. Previously, he was contributing editor of the 2014 LSE Blue Ribbon report Ending the Drug Wars and the 2012 LSE IDEAS Special Report, Governing the Global Drug Wars. He has led a number of policy projects at IDPU, including a British Council Newton Fund Institutional Links grant with the Universidad de Los Andes, examining ‘illicit drug production and the search for peace in Colombia’; a GIZ partnership developing an ‘Innovation Lab on Drugs and Development’; and an LSE Knowledge Exchange and Impact Project examining drug policy legislative reform in Ireland and the UK.

Dr. Collins is currently a co-Investigator on a Global Challenges Research Fund project examining illicit drug economies in the borderlands of Myanmar, Afghanistan and Colombia and PI on a major Open Society Foundations Institutional Support grant focusing on drugs and sustainable development.

His historical research focuses on the political economy of international drug control. He earned a PhD from the Department of International History at the London School of Economics looking at Anglo-American relations and international drug control over the period 1939-1964, culminating in the creation of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs in 1961. John’s contemporary policy interests focus on the political economy of international drug control and the evolving dynamics on national and international policy reforms.

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SFU Harbour Centre

HC2245 - 515 W Hastings St

Vancouver, BC V6B 5K3

Canada

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