The Reframing of the War on Drugs as a “Humanitarian Crisis”: Costs, Benefits and Consequences

Journal article

Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora & Kristian Hoelscher (2017) The Reframing of the War on Drugs as a “Humanitarian Crisis”: Costs, Benefits and Consequences, Latin American Perspectives 44 (4): 168–182.

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The War on Drugs has had grave humanitarian consequences for Latin America. It has encouraged a highly militarized and ultimately unsuccessful approach to drug control, leading to violence, displacement, and human suffering throughout the region. In acknowledging and responding to this suffering, humanitarian organizations have recently begun to frame this situation as a “humanitarian crisis” to facilitate humanitarian entry into new spaces. There is a need for a conceptual conversation about the use of the label “humanitarian crisis” in reference to the human costs of the War on Drugs in Latin America, particularly its rhetorical and normative use by the media and civil society and its strategic and moral use by humanitarian actors.

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