Alternative Development programmes, aimed at encouraging peasants to switch from growing illicit drugs-related crops, play an important role in UN drug control strategies. The record of success, however, is a questionable one. Decades of efforts to reduce global drug supply using a combination of developmental and repressive means, managed to shift production from one country to another, but have failed in terms of global impact. TNI argues for delinking alternative development from the threat of forced eradication and law enforcement and guaranteeing peasants the support required for a sustainable alternative future.

  • Drugs and development: The great disconnect

    Julia Buxton
    GDPO Policy Brief 2
    January 2015

    This report argues that ‘drugs’ are a development issue and must be recognised as such by development agencies. The cultivation of opium poppy, coca leaf and cannabis for anything other than medical and scientific purposes is prohibited under the UN 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, as amended by the 1972 Protocol. However conditions of marginalisation and exclusion have sustained the cultivation of these low capital input/high yield drug crops. Poverty, insecurity and inequality also exacerbate the vulnerability of ‘bridge’ states to trafficking activities. These factors are development concerns requiring economic and political solutions.

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  • Bouncing Back

    Relapse in the Golden Triangle
    Martin Jelsma Tom Kramer Tom Blickman Ernestien Jensema
    Transnational Institute (TNI)
    May 2014

    TNI's indepth examination of the illegal drug market in the Golden Triangle, which has witnessed a doubling of opium production, growing prison populations and repression of small-scale farmers. This report details the failure of ASEAN's 'drug free' strategy and the need for a new approach.

    Bouncing Back - complete report (pdf, 4.6MB)
    Chapter Alternative Development (pdf, 1.37MB)
    Chapter Harm Reduction (pdf, 1.59MB)
    Chapter Conflict, Crime and Corruption (pdf, 1.42MB)
    Chapter Conclusions (pdf, 1.07MB)

  • First Southeast Asia Opium Farmers Forum

    In July 2013 TNI and Paung Ku organised the First Southeast Asia Opium Farmers Forum, bringing together some 30 representatives of local communities involved in opium cultivation and local community workers from the major opium growing regions in Southeast Asia: Chin, Kachin, northern and southern Shan, and Kayah States in Burma/Myanmar and Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh in Northeast India.

    Current drug control polices in the region are repressive and criminalise opium farmers, and have greatly affect the lives of the communities cultivating opium. However, until now these communities have had little or no influence on the design of these policies. Aim of the forum was to identify the main concerns of opium farmers and formulate alternative policy options that respect the rights of producers’ communities, and involve them in decision making processes.

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  • Drugs as war economy and the peace process in Colombia: dilemmas and challenges

    Ricardo Vargas
    Drug Policy Briefing Nr. 41
    September 2013

    The fourth item on the agenda of talks “to end the conflict,” on the issue of drugs, seems to reflect rather a flat and simplistic view of the classic circuit of drug production, processing, trafficking and use. The relationship between drugs and armed conflict in Colombia is in fact much more complex. This report analyses the challenges that drug trafficking poses to the development of a sustainable peace.

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  • The illicit drugs market in the Colombian agrarian context

    Why the issue of illicit cultivation is highly relevant to the peace process
    Amira Armenta
    TNI Drug Policy Briefing Nr. 40
    February 2013

    The distribution of land and its unjust use are the major causes of violence in Colombia. For this reason land issues are the starting point of current peace talks between the Santos government and the FARC guerrillas. Remedying these structural problems at the heart of rural Colombia is the best guarantee of progress of the current peace negotiations that could bring an end to a half-century-old violent conflict.

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  • Between Reality and Abstraction

    Guiding Principles and developing alternatives for illicit crop producing regions in Peru
    Mirella van Dun, Hugo Cabieses Cubas and Pien Metaal
    TNI Drug Policy Briefing Nr. 39
    January 2013

    At the International Conference on Alter­native Development (ICAD), held 15-16 November 2012 in Lima, the Peruvian Government continued to insist on the relevance of “Alternative Development (AD),” with particular emphasis on the so-called San Martín “miracle” or “model.” The model, started with the support of in­ternational cooperation, is proposed by Peru as a paradigm to be followed world­wide by regions and countries that also deal with problems associated with crops grown for illicit purposes.

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  • UN International Guiding Principles on Alternative Development: Part II

    Coletta Youngers
    Wednesday, November 21, 2012

    The International Guiding Principles on Alternative Development approved last week at an international meeting in Lima, Peru, represents a lost opportunity to promote equitable economic development in some of the world’s poorest regions. The final document on the Guiding Principles bears little resemblance to the document that was originally drafted in November 2011 in Thailand by a group of more than 100 governmental and non-governmental experts.

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  • An opportunity lost

    Guiding Principles on Alternative Development and the ICAD Conference in Lima Peru
    Pien Metaal
    Monday, November 19, 2012

    At the International Conference on Alternative Development (ICAD), held in Lima from 14 to 16 November, the Peruvian Government supported by the UNODC claimed that currently in Peru the surface planted with alternative development crops is superior to the amount of coca, used for the production of cocaine. Allegedly, the 80 thousand hectares with cocoa and coffee have successfully replaced an illicit economy, or prevented it to establish itself.

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  • Valencia Declaration on Alternative Development

    Observatory of Crops Declared Illicit (OCDI)
    Valencia, November 10, 2013

    Producers of crops declared illicit, such as opium, coca and cannabis, from throughout the world convened at the Observatory of Crops Declared Illicit (OCDI) in Valencia (Spain) on November 9-10, 2012, to discuss alternative development and the Guiding Principles for Alternative Development, to be approved at the ICAD II (International Conference on Alternative Development), in Lima on November 15-16, 2012. Out of these discussions came the Valencia Declaration on Alternative Development .

  • UN International Guiding Principles on Alternative Development

    Coletta Youngers
    Friday, November 9, 2012

    In November 2011 I was invited by the Thai government to take part in an international delegation to develop a set of UN International Guiding Principles on Alternative Development. Our work began with a five-day journey along the Thai-Burma border to see first-hand the development programs that have been successful in virtually eliminating poppy production in that country. Over 100 government officials and experts from 28 countries visited the Thai “Royal Project,” which has research stations and development projects in five Northern provinces of the country.

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