Many myths surround coca. Every day press accounts around the world use the word coca in their headlines, when in fact they refer to cocaine. TNI's Drugs and Democracy Team exposes the myths and reality surrounding the coca leaf.
The coca leaf has been chewed and brewed for tea for centuries in the Andean region – and does not cause any harm and is probably beneficial to human health. Yet the leaf is treated as if it is comparable to cocaine or heroin. The inclusion of the coca leaf in the list of narcotic drugs raises questions about the logic behind the current system of classification under the UN conventions. TNI believes we can find a more culturally sensitive approach to plants with psychoactive or mildly stimulant properties, and should distinguish more between problematic, recreational and traditional uses of psychoactive substances.
TNI’s work is in the news almost every working day of the year. Together with our partners, we enjoy wide coverage in national and international news outlets from around the world. Here are some of the highlights from 2020 of which we are particularly proud.
Britain’s counter-terrorism policies do not work. They do not work for the British people, for the various communities in the UK whose experience of counter-terrorism has been one of stigmatisation and criminalisation, and they do not work for the people of the Middle East, South Asia and Africa whose human rights have been systematically violated in the War on Terror.
Jair Bolsonaro's victory on October 28 turns Brazil towards the extreme right and backwards in several aspects of its democratic transition initiated with the 1988 Constitution, especially those related to social justice, environment, human rights and the economy. Understanding why he was elected and what he represents is key to grasping the new Brazil emerging from the election and what to expect for the near future.
Getting to the Briceño region in the heart of Antioquia requires an excellent vehicle, and a lot of time and luck. The week before our journey there in mid-July, heavy rains wiped out part of the road between Briceño and Pueblo Nuevo, stranding folks on one side or the other. We were lucky on the day of our journey – no rain. But it took a six-hour drive to get from Medellín to Briceño, and another three hours of sometimes harrowing curves to Pueblo Nuevo. The dirt-road drive itself was a stark reminder of the challenges Colombia faces as it seeks to eliminate 50,000 hectares of coca this year through the crop substitution program, Programa Nacional Integral de Sustitución de Cultivos de Uso Ilícito (National Comprehensive Program for the Substitution of Illicit Crops), known by the acronym PNIS.
Ruth Blakeley, Ben Hayes, Nisha Kapoor, Arun Kundnani, Narzanin Massoumi, David Miller, Tom Mills, Rizwaan Sabir, Katy Sian, Waqas Tufail
03 September 2019
This report offers an account of the failures of current counter-terrorism policies, an analysis of the reasons why they do not work and an outline of a progressive alternative that we hope will be the basis for a future Labour government’s approach.
The way that ownership and control of land and resources is managed and understood is changing globally, even as changes in financial markets and the climate catastrophe are putting increasing pressure on land and land-based resources. The changes taking place can appear progressive and positive - for example, more and more governments and other actors now recognize collective ownership of land. But the way change is taking place is less transformative than it looks and is in fact creating new opportunities for corporations to profit from land and natural resources, to the detriment of local communities. Our latest report explores how and why this change is taking place, what actors are helping to shape our understanding and management of land and natural resources, and who stands to benefit and to lose from these changes.
Statement to the Extraordinary Meeting of G20 Agriculture Ministers, 21 April 2020:
As the COVID-19 health emergency unleashes a wider social and economic crisis, we believe that urgent action is indeed needed to safeguard global food security and nutrition. Action, however, cannot be limited to ensuring the flow of food supplies. A broader range of measures are necessary to ensure food security, in the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.
Prof John Ruggie has shared his comments on the Zero Draft treaty on TNCs and human rights on this blog earlier this month. His core concerns are that the zero draft has not adequately deal with ‘scale’ and ‘liability’. This response argues that Ruggie’s arguments in opposition to the binding treaty are misdirected and they fail to recognise the historic opportunity offered by the Human Right Council to create a human rights remedy system for corporate abuse across national boundaries.
With the likes of Putin, Trump, Xi Jinping and Modi controlling some of the world’s most powerful nations, authoritarianism is fast being normalised. The rise of these figures has been paralleled by a disturbing growth in nationalist, racist and xenophobic forces, disaffection towards traditional democratic institutions and a steady increase in repression of social movements and civil society. The promises of Fukuyama, Friedman and others that capitalism and liberal, open societies were inextricably bound together lie today in tatters.
The first day at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs was marked by the announcement of President Evo Morales of Bolivia that he would start the process to remove the coca leaf from the 1961 Single Convention as well as the suspension of the paragraphs of that convention that prohibit the traditional chewing of coca leaf. Holding up a coca leaf in front of delegates at the UN summit on drugs he underlined his demand.
It is feminism that teaches us best how to analyse this, because historically it is women who have been taught to play this mediating role, to smooth over disagreement, to flatter and to acquiesce. There are many women who do not follow the script, and they are often punished for it. How best can we think about this most secret and insidious form of education?
There is mounting evidence that neoliberal policies are losing legitimacy. The translation of such disaffection into positive commitment to an alternative, however, requires deeper disengagement from the dominant order and practical participation in creating alternatives. A social order built on escaping the pressures of democracy while at the same time depending on the capacities of many desiring democracy is unlikely to be stable. Thus the opaque and indirect forms of power typical of neoliberal rule are simultaneously sources of vulnerability and dependence, and breeding grounds for the power to subvert and transform.
Through the experience of working with kids from Brazil’s favelas (shanty-towns) telling their stories, two film-makers explore how the rise of the authoritarian right in Brazil is based on a deep fear by elites of social mobility and a desire to preserve their traditional privileges through both physical as well as political walls.
It was typical that as Javier was dying, just 10 days before he passed away, too sick to get to his computer, he should e-mail me on his mobile phone to introduce José Manual Mariscal as the new editor of the monthly magazine of the Spanish Communist Party (a part of the United Left coalition). “I'm quite sick,” he said, rather understating his personal problem, “so I can’t go on. But if you’re so kind, lend him your help as if he were me.” He knew our friendship was personally strong but also intrinsically political. And based on openness and collaboration, he deeply loyal to the Marxist Leninist Spanish Communist Party and I of a libertarian mould
Katie Sandwell, Angélica Castañeda Flores, Lyda Fernanda Forero, Jennifer Franco, Sofia Monsalve Suárez, Andrea Nuila, Philip Seufert
10 December 2019
We urgently need new, revitalised, visions of human rights, and rural communities are in the process of building just these kinds of visions. The climate crisis poses massive threats to human rights, but so do mainstream technical and economic climate ‘solutions’, and rising authoritarian voices around the world. The battle for resources and territories, including land, water, fisheries, and forests is becoming increasingly intense, with land-intensive renewable energy projects and the drive to marketise carbon and biodiversity additional threats to nature and to the livelihoods of rural and indigenous people around the world.