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Kramer, Jelsma: Repressive policies only stoking Asean's drug problem

The strategy of Asean's 10 member countries to become "drug free" by 2015 is failing dramatically. In the last decade, opium cultivation in the region has doubled, drug use -- especially of methamphetamines, a powerful synthetic stimulant -- has increased significantly, and there remain strong links between drugs, conflict, crime and corruption.

     This unrealistic deadline-oriented thinking has resulted in repressive drug policies, mainly targeting marginalized communities of drug users, opium farmers and small traders. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations agreed on this target in 1998, the year the U.N. General Assembly dedicated a special session to the global drug problem. While U.N. agencies and most countries have long since abandoned the illusion of a drug-free world, Asean at a high-level meeting in September 2013 reaffirmed its commitment to "realize the vision of a drug-free Asean 2015 and beyond."

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