A Failed Balance

Alternative Development and Eradication
20 March 2002
Policy briefing

This Drugs & Conflict debate paper elucidates the analysis TNI contributed to a high-level international policy conference to evaluate 25 years of Alternative Development.

Alternative Development programmes, aimed at encouraging peasants to switch from growing illicit drugs-related crops, are a good idea. The record of success, however, is a sorry one. Decades of efforts to reduce global drug supply using a mix of developmental and repressive means, have failed.

This Drugs & Conflict debate paper elucidates the analysis TNI contributed to a high-level international policy conference to evaluate 25 years of Alternative Development, convened by the German government and the United Nations Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) in January 2002.

TNI argues for a reconceptualisation of the strategy – delinking alternative development from the threat of forced eradication and law enforcement, and guaranteeing peasants the support required for a sustainable alternative future. Furthermore, our experts urge the application of the concept of Harm Reduction as the basis for a rational and pragmatic drug policy.

This concept has been applied successfully in many countries, especially in Europe, but till now only on the consumption side of the story. The authors of this booklet argue it is high time that Harm Reduction principles be applied to the production side of the equation.

A significant breakthrough was achieved at the German conference, with the final declaration stating, 'Alternative Development should neither be made conditional on prior elimination of drug crop cultivation nor should a reduction be enforced until licit components of livelihood strategies have been sufficiently strengthened.” While there is still a long way to go in achieving just and effective drugs policies, this does represent an important shift away from the crude ‘carrot and stick’ approach to peasant producers, which has ao undermined alternative development efforts to date.

Pages: 16