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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

International Drug Control Policy

Liana Sun Wyler
Analyst in International Crime and Narcotics

The global illegal drug trade represents a multi-dimensional challenge that has implications for U.S. national interests as well as the international community. Common illegal drugs trafficked internationally include cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. According to the U.S. intelligence community, international drug trafficking can undermine political and regional stability and bolster the role and capabilities of organized crime in the drug trade. Key regions of concern include Latin America and Afghanistan, which are focal points in U.S. efforts to combat the production and transit of cocaine and heroin, respectively. Drug use and addiction have the potential to negatively affect the social fabric of communities, hinder economic development, and place an additional burden on national public health infrastructures.

As an issue of international policy concern for more than a century, and as a subject of longstanding U.S. and multilateral policy commitment, U.S. counterdrug efforts have expanded to include a broad array of tools to attack the international drug trade. Such approaches include (1) combating the production of drugs at the source, (2) combating the flow of drugs in transit, (3) dismantling international illicit drug networks, and (4) creating incentives for international cooperation on drug control.

Congress is involved in all aspects of U.S. international drug control policy, regularly appropriating funds for counterdrug initiatives, conducting oversight activities on federal counterdrug programs, and legislating changes to agency authorities and other counterdrug policies. For FY2012, the Administration has requested from Congress approximately $26.2 billion for all federal drug control programs, of which $2.1 billion is requested for international programs, including civilian and military U.S. foreign assistance. An additional $3.9 billion is requested for interdiction programs related to intercepting and disrupting foreign drug shipments en route to the United States.

Through its appropriations and federal oversight responsibilities, the 112
th Congress may chose to continue tackling several ongoing policy issues concerning U.S. international drug control policy, including 
  • the role of the Department of Defense in counterdrug foreign assistance; 
  • challenges associated with sequencing alternative development and eradication programs; 
  • the effectiveness of U.S. efforts to promote international drug control cooperation; and 
  • how to reduce drug trafficking-related violence and other harmful manifestations of the drug trade. 
The 112th Congress may also choose to address authorizing legislation for the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), which, pursuant to Section 714 of P.L. 105- 277, as amended, expired at the end of FY2010. ONDCP’s primary purpose is to establish policies, priorities, and objectives for the overall U.S. drug control program, including domestic and international aspects.

Date of Report: March 21, 2011
Number of Pages: 52
Order Number: RL34543
Price: $29.95

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