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The global politics of illicit-drug control

Bentham, Mandy (1994). The global politics of illicit-drug control. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University)


The 1980s saw the wider availability and growing consumption of illicit drugs. The increase in drug trafficking and drug use has occurred despite increasing international action to prevent it. In describing the situation as a "drug problem", policy-makers have responded to the concern as if it were a single issue. However, the drug phenomenon is multi-faceted and multi-dimensional. It is the concern of numerous state and non-state actors, it necessitates multi-lateral co-operation among governments, it involves the participation of numerous departments of government and a complex web of issues exists which affect and are affected by the phenomenon. In this sense the "drug problem" clearly demonstrates the characteristics of interdependence.

The undeniable growth of interdependence in the world in the last half-century has caused a rethink of the traditional Realist approach to international relations. Neorealists were principally responsible for introducing the concept of an international regime as a means of revamping the power politics philosophy of Realism. In this approach, international regimes are understood to rise and fall in line with the powers of the state-actors comprising them. An alternative approach to international relations challenges the belief that change in world politics is defined in terms of changes in state power and that the emergence of regimes is similarly defined. The Global Politics approach asserts that agendas are determined by the attempt of actors to allocate values authoritatively on specific issues by forming issue-systems. According to this approach, issue-systems, consisting of all actors for whom a particular issue is salient, can be abstracted from the international system as a whole.

Previously the two concepts of international regimes and the concept of issues forming issue-systems have developed in isolation and have suffered from lack of clarification. In order to develop a theoretical framework for an analysis of the drug phenomenon this research has attempted to clarify and develop the concept of an "issue", central to both concepts, for an understanding of international regimes which gives them an independent impact on world politics. In developing the concept of an issue, an understanding of the nature and role of values and norms in international affairs, lacking development in current regime literature will be seen as central.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Departments: Doctoral Theses
Text - Accepted Version
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