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Drug Policy, the Security Sector and Sustainable Development Goal 16

14 March, 2022



Ensuring that drug policy is coherent with the 2030 Agenda is essential to achieving the commitments made by UN member states to sustainable development.

While it is evident that advancing security sector governance and reform is necessary for states to achieve sustainable development goals, greater attention is needed to understand the nexus between drug policy and development.

Drug policy is often framed as a security issue because most controlled substances are criminalized under national and international justice regimes with the goal to end consumption for non-medical use. As a result, repressive drug policy has spillover effects on both the security and justice sectors since these sectors are responsible for upholding and enforcing the rule of law. The consequences of repressive policies frequently produce negative externalities, such as public distrust in institutions, that in turn harm progress on development, in particular SDG 16.

This policy brief explores points of tension and harmony between drug policy and development and proposes a development-led set of recommendations to drug policy through security sector reform.