Rethinking “War on Drugs” through U.S.-Mexico Prism
At the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, part of its mission is to explore solutions to problems that, even if they do not result directly from integration, are global in nature, and can therefore be effectively addressed only through international cooperation. Within this category of issues, the problem of illicit drugs and international crime is one in which we have been engaged in recent years. In 2008, the Center collaborated with the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy and more recently with the Global Commission on Drug Policy that released its final report in June 2011. Yet, it had not organized an academic activity here at Yale until May 12-13, 2011, when we convened a conference titled Rethinking the “War on Drugs” through the U.S.-Mexico Prism, which resulted in the volume by the same name.
Of course, the problem is truly global; but few places in the world better characterize the full extent of policy challenges resulting from drug trafficking and consumption than the United States and Mexico. The U.S. is the world’s largest consumer of drugs. It comprises just five percent of the global population, yet most estimates suggest that the U.S. accounts for over 25 percent of global demand for illicit drugs. At the same time, Mexico is the U.S.’s largest supplier of illicit drugs, and an increasingly significant supplier of drugs to many European nations. Furthermore, in recent years, Mexico has been affected by an epidemic of violence stemming from organized crime of unprecedented proportions.
The motivation for the conference reflected in this volume stems from the Center’s belief that the framework for dealing with drug policies does not work. The volume takes stock of the present drug policies, and also makes an effort to determine whether there is some potential for alternative policies. Most significantly, we confront the research and existing policies with the state of affairs on this issue as seen through the prism of Mexico and the U.S.