Global Consequences of the War on Drugs: Perspectives from Former Open Society Fellows
June 17 marked the 50th anniversary of U.S. President Richard Nixon’s declaration of a War on Drugs. Since then, this failed policy has been exported and implemented around the world, driving mass incarceration and human rights violations in the United States and internationally.
Punitive policies that criminalize people for low-level drug offenses harm individuals and their communities while hindering access to security and essential services. Over the last year, the damaging effects of this approach have become more evident than ever—prisons and jails have become epicenters of the COVID-19 pandemic and overdose rates are rising, with more than 93,000 deaths occurring in the U.S. in 2020 alone.
How has the war on drugs shaped international policies and practices, and how do we begin to reverse its harms? In this panel discussion, former Open Society fellows and global drug policy experts examine the international impacts of the war on drugs and provide insights on how to shift drug policy from prohibition and punishment to health and human rights.
Liz Evans is the founder of the Portland Hotel Society and co-founder of InSite, North America’s first sanctioned safe consumption site.
Vanda Felbab-Brown is a senior fellow in the Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology in the Foreign Policy program at Brookings.
Gregg Gonsalves is an epidemiologist and is an associate professor at both the Yale School of Public Health and Yale Law School.
Helena Hansen is professor and chair of research theme in translational social science and health equity, and is associate director of the Center for Social Medicine, at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine.
WAR IS OVER?
How the United States Fueled a Global Drug War, and Why It Must End
As U.S. domestic drug policy reform gains momentum, it is time the United States makes a concerted effort to de-escalate the failed war on drugs elsewhere.
Public Health First
Incarceration Should Not Be a Death Sentence
Despite earlier promises to fight the spread of COVID-19 by reducing the number of nonviolent offenders in jails and prisons, governments worldwide are dragging their feet and prioritizing the drug war ahead of public health.
Faith and Healing
Q&A: Preaching Harm Reduction
By bringing harm reduction to the faith community, Faith in Public Life is using the church to save lives in the face of the overdose crisis.