After more than four years of peace talks in Havana, the Colombian government and the FARC have taken important steps toward a definitive agreement to end the conflict. Addressing the issue of drugs – crops for illicit use, production, consumption and drug trafficking– is key to achieving sustainable peace in the country. Violence linked to the drugs economy and the financing of armed groups have been central to the country's conflict, while the illicit drugs market has also served as a survival economy and safety net. Rethinking the war on drugs is therefore critical to building peace throughout the rural regions of Colombia.
A recent analysis on the relationship between local drug markets and violence and crime in Colombia illustrates the dynamics driving the domestic drug trade, and provides recommendations for comprehensive government interventions designed to result in long-lasting security improvements.
For 37 years Colombia has been spraying chemicals to combat illicit crops, particularly coca. These massive eradication programmes became part of the US-backed 'War on Drugs'. The fumigations are controversial for their proven inefficacy to reduce supply and demand for the use of herbicides such as glyphosate.
Although there is talk of peace, there are no safeguards for the activities of the social organisations that are working to defend social rights and to oppose an economic model that is deepening inequality and that violates fundamental rights.
TNI’s Drugs & Democracy programme has dedicated a large share of its attention on (national and international) drug control policies towards crop cultivation and alternative development. In doing so, the programme works closely with - representatives and/or families of - producers of cannabis, opium, and coca, whose voices are often left out from the policymaking arenas. Furthermore, the programme aims to build bridges between crop producing communities and important stakeholders such as civil society or nongovernmental organisations, community leaders, and policymakers - as an integral part of the programme’s efforts to advocate for more humane and inclusive approaches guided by the principles of human rights, development, and harm reduction.