Meet the PPC Executive for 2021!

CO-PRESIDENTS

HEEJOO JANG

Hi everyone! My name is Heejoo and I’m a fourth-year Law and Arts student, majoring in Politics and Sociology. I joined PPC because I believe in the power of youth engagement in politics. I am especially passionate about women’s rights and fair criminal procedure. In my spare time I like listening to music, going to the gym and thrift shopping. I can’t wait to meet you all and lead an amazing year at PPC with Na-Young!

NA-YOUNG KIM

Kia Ora! I’m Na-Young and am in the process of completing my law and arts degree majoring in criminology and politics. I am super passionate about social development, civics, and the criminal justice system, so would love to have a yarn about those areas anytime! It is incredibly important that as a society we have informed political discussion around the issues that affect us, and I believe the public policy club facilitates some of this! I am incredibly excited to be working alongside Heejoo and the PPC exec in 2021 and hope to see what we can achieve as a team.

SECRETARY

MATT FLETCHER

Kia ora, I’m Matt! I’m a fifth year Law and Arts student double-majoring in Economics and Politics. I enjoy reading and going on long walks around Auckland. I’ve been a passionate observer of politics and public policy for most of my life, and have been involved with PPC for the majority of its existence. Having previously served as Co-President in 2020 – during a tumultuous (yet important!) time for the Club – I’m stoked to be back this year as Secretary and to be working alongside the Co-Presidents and this year’s excellent team!

TREASURER

LIAM DAVIES

Kia Ora, my name is Liam and I am the 2021 Treasurer. I study a BA, majoring in Economics and Politics. I love PPC because of its mission to make policy and politics accessible to young people in a non-partisan space. I believe that creating this kind of space allows for a better standard of kōrero and a deeper understanding of policy topics. In my spare time I like to read non-fiction and sign up for too many clubs; like PPC, EA and ASO.

CONTENT CO-LEADERS

PAUL SIMPERINGHAM

I’m a first year masters student in public policy, and co-head of content for the 2nd time. In my spare time I’m into the NBA, movies, and anything policy or news. So feel free to talk to me about any of those.

This year I’m really looking forward to working with our team and continuing to push our work into new areas.

NICK HOWELL

Hey team – my name is Nick and I’m in my third year of a Law and Arts conjoint – not exactly unique around these parts! I love the world of politics and am particularly passionate about economic inequalities. When I’m not debating people at the local pub I enjoy spending time with my lil doggo. Hope to send some quality content your way this year!

MARKETING / GRAPHICS LEADER

TRISNA CLANEY

Hello everyone! My name is Trisna Claney and I am a third year student doing an Arts and Health Sciences conjoint. I am a really firm believer in the power of public policy shaping what health and wellness looks like in Aotearoa. When I have free time, I like watching anime and playing video games, and you will probably see these influences in the media I create!

TERTIARY CO-LEADERS

PHOEBE CETTINA

Hello, I’m Phoebe and I am in the last year of my BA majoring in Politics and Philosophy! The reason I like public policy is that it provides us with a tangible way to have meaningful impact on our environment and the ability to shape the world in a better way. In my spare time I enjoy hanging with pals, reading, and have recently tried learning to skateboard.

RORY WILKINSON

I’m Rory, I am a 3rd year commerce studying majoring in Information Systems and Business Analytics. I joined PPC to advocate for public policy education for young people. I believe in taking a non partisan approach and hearing all sides when discussing issues.

HIGH SCHOOLS CO-LEADERS

TARIK HODZIC

Hi, my name is Tarik Hodzic and I am in my last (third) year of my BA in Politics and Criminology. I joined the PPC because it provides an opportunity to reach out to our communities outside of the university walls, specifically in low-decile secondary schools. Outside of Uni life, I enjoy basketball, reading and a good old political discussion.

NANDINI SINGH

Hi, my name is Nandini and I am currently in the second year of my commerce degree majoring in Economics and Finance. I joined PPC because I care a lot about young people and I do believe there is a gap between our youth and politics. My role as a high school lead is to work towards closing that gap and advocating for civics education!

COMPETITION CO-LEADERS

LILY PATERSON

I’m Lily, I am currently in my third and final year of Health Science! I am part of PPC because I am interested in how public policy effects all aspects of life, especially how policy works to create better health outcomes in society. I love meeting and working with students from different areas to understand how public policy relates to them and their area of study. My hobbies are gymnastics, tramping and trying new foods!

RYAN CHOO

I’m currently in my third year of a Law and Arts degree, double majoring in Economics and Politics. My key political interests include international relations, economic policy, and electoral issues. Having previously served as a content writer for PPC, I’m very excited to now be a co-leader of this fantastic team, and I hope to expand its activities and reach throughout 2019!

Blog | Leaving 2020 Without an EU-NZ Free Trade Agreement in Sight

By Callia Drinkwater

Bested only by China and Australia, the European Union is New Zealand’s third-largest trading partner. [1] In 2008, New Zealand entered a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China, [2] and in 2018 an agreement with Australia, but in 2020 we’ve still got standard tariffs with Europe. From the outset, it would seem that the EU and NZ both have similar environmental and social objectives and policies, and want to push back against protectionism. So why was the eighth round of discussions concluded in July of 2020 with no agreement to show? Three big issues stand in the way of an EU-NZ FTA, and from food to cars, nothing goes untouched.

The Fight for Le Grand Fromage

Perhaps the most unique aspect of these negotiations is the role of intellectual property concerning food production. Currently, in your nearest New World you can find a locally produced halloumi or havarti cheese, or perhaps some South Island Jersey Bennie potatoes. But in an EU-NZ deal, these items could be among the 2,000 products exclusive to a region. This is similar to how Champagne can only come from the region of Champagne in France and otherwise cannot bear the name. Any cheese marketed as halloumi must come from Cyprus, havarti from Denmark, and the humble Jersey Bennie from the island of Jersey. [3] For local food manufacturers, this would prove troublesome as they are no longer able to market their product in a way which is recognisable to the consumer. For the dairy industry, this is a particular concern as a large proportion of the items are varieties of cheese which are only recognisable by their European ancestor. 

Agricultural Protectionism

On the conclusion of the eighth round of negotiations, Trade Minister David Parker accused the European Union of agricultural protectionism, flying in the face of the EU’s anti-protectionism doctrine. [4] This was said in retaliation to the tariff-rate quota of 15,000 tonnes of cheese over the space of a decade. Despite sounding generous, this allows for the import of approximately 3g of kiwi cheese for each EU citizen annually, while in 2019 kiwis imported from the EU just under a kilo of cheese per person. From a New Zealand perspective, this seems unacceptable as dairy is an incredibly important industry, making up approximately 5% of our GDP,and in 2019 was worth NZ$19.7 billion in exports. [5] In response to this, Andrew Hoggard from Federated Farmers National said the EU would have to offer a much better deal, particularly because any concessions made now could set a precedent for other trade negotiations. [6] For the EU, this is equally as challenging as they, unlike New Zealand, actually have to use a significant amount of their annual budget supporting local farming; in 2018 almost 38% of the EU budget was invested into agriculture. [7] In light of this, the EU must ensure its farmers are not undercut by imports. Equally as important is the fact that the EU has recently made concessions in relation to this in the Mercosur (South American) agreement, and the Canadian agreement. Having already compromised, the EU will be less willing to offer further concessions.

Customs Fees

So far, the majority of these issues have been concerning the EU’s specific regulations. However, in the most recent report from the European Commission, they stated it was actually the customs fees imposed by New Zealand that were the most sensitive issue in the text. [8] These customs fees refer to the $55.71 charge per import at the border. This fee is made up of an Import Entry Transaction Fee, and a Ministry of Primary Industry’s biosecurity system levy. [9] 

Beyond these three key issues, there is also a tremendous amount of context which must be considered when examining an EU-NZ FTA. The most dramatic one is the consequences of Brexit, which is due to take place at the end of 2020. Depending on the deal struck between the EU and Britain, and the negotiations between NZ and Britain, this could change how the EU and NZ wish to continue in their discussions. Another simpler factor is the lack of urgency for the EU to finalise this agreement. Even in the extreme context of NZ leaving the EU market entirely, the EU would not suffer significantly as NZ remains its 49th biggest trade partner. [10] For NZ, however, the EU remains our third largest trade partner. As an indication of its importance to New Zealand, in early 2020 Simon Bridges declared that if the National Party were to win the election, a trade deal with the EU would be the National Party’s top trade priority. [11] 

For those supporting such an agreement, the prospect of convincing the EU to compromise long-held elements of their system for a small island in the Pacific seems bleak at best. However, on the conclusion of the 2020 negotiations the European Commission stated that constructive progress was made in the environmental sector, a significant improvement on the troubles from only six months prior. [12] Progress is being made, with an FTA surely on the horizon.

Sources:

  1. https://www.stats.govt.nz/information-releases/goods-and-services-trade-by-country-year-ended-june-2019#:~:text=New%20Zealand’s%20top%20three%20trade,the%20rest%20of%20the%20world   
  2. https://www.mfat.govt.nz/en/trade/free-trade-agreements/free-trade-agreements-in-force/china-fta/nz-china-fta-overview/ 
  3. https://www.mfat.govt.nz/en/trade/free-trade-agreements/agreements-under-negotiation/eu-fta/geographical-indications/ 
  4. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/a-very-negative-signal-trade-minister-david-parker-accuses-european-union-of-protectionism/SRBFSFCMIYTG5HBAP7WCFEMS3A/ 
  5. https://www.dcanz.com/about-the-nz-dairy-industry/#:~:text=In%2030%20years%2C%20dairy%20exports,%25%20in%20four%20of%20those 
  6.  https://www.newsroom.co.nz/slow-progress-on-eu-trade-talks 
  7. https://eufactcheck.eu/factcheck/true-80-percent-of-the-european-money-for-agriculture-goes-to-the-20-percent-largest-farmers/#:~:text=EU%20agricultural%20budget&text=In%202018%2C%20almost%2038%20percent,market%20regulation%20and%20rural%20development
  8. https://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2020/july/tradoc_158860.pdf 
  9. https://www.customs.govt.nz/personal/send-and-receive-items/receive-items-from-overseas/ 
  10. https://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2006/september/tradoc_122530.pdf 
  11. https://www.newsroom.co.nz/slow-progress-on-eu-trade-talks 
  12. https://www.newsroom.co.nz/obstacles-remain-to-a-free-trade-deal-with-the-eu

Blog | Road to Reconciliation: Theorizing Rwanda 1994 and Post-Conflict Resolution

By Pau Sicat

The Rwandan genocide in 1994 is widely regarded as the deadliest and “the fastest mass killing in history”. It was led by the Rwandan military with at least 600,000 Tutsis and Hutus killed within the short span of a few months.

To answer what the common causes of genocide are, we can identify various political, economic or ideational conditions that may have allowed and caused the Rwandan society at the time to become genocidal. 

Defining Genocide

According to the UN, Genocide can be defined as: “acts committed with the intent to exterminate, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” This definition covers any of the following acts with that intention [1]: 

  • killing members of the group;
  • causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
  • imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
  • forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Based on the theories by Ernesto Verdeja and Dr Chris Wilson, the common causes or factors that encourage or manifest the conditions for a country to resort to genocide involve the following: (1) deep social cleavages; (2) economic recession; (3) political instability due to a power struggle between two large group, one of them being an armed military force; (4) and some form of international intervention.

Rwanda 1994

Context

Rwanda was a Belgian colony until the 1960s when they finally announced their independence. This colonial context is crucial to the conflict because although Hutu and Tutsi shared many similarities the differences between the two group identities became more pronounced, and politicized under Belgium rule. The implementation of identity cards required people to be identified as either Tutsi or Hutu, which along with preferential treatment towards Tutsi lead to growing animosity.

After Rwanda’s independence, Hutu being the majority group gained political dominance, which subsequently led to the massacre of 100,000 Tutsis. The genocide started in the context of civil war from 1990 to 1994 with Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). During this time, the war devastated the country’s economy and caused rising tension due to a sense of threat from increased militarization, overall violence and propaganda of which 3,000 Tutsis were killed. The effects of the war provided the following conditions for genocide to take place; (1) economy in freefall, (2) expulsion of many people from conquered territories created many internally displaced persons who later became some of the worst perpetrators, (3) government created civilian militias.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-rwanda-warcrimes-idUSKCN0Y70XQ

The Arusha Peace Accord also played a significant role leading up to the genocide. The initiative was proposed by the international community in an attempt to end the civil war. However, this plan backfired when Hutu moderates excluded the Hutu Power faction from their negotiation with the RPF which would have given the Tutsis considerable political and military influence, and caused thousands of Hutu soldiers to lose their jobs. The genocide in 1994 prompted the UN Secretary General to request for further military assistance from U.S. and other powers. However, this proposal was rejected and was instead asked for a reduction in the military which caused the UN to eventually withdraw their troops.

Road to Social Reconciliation

The Rwandan government has since made efforts for reconciliation with their “One Nation” programme. This reconciliation initiative is an effort to build and solidify relationships within members of communities with diverse backgrounds [3], and involves but isn’t limited to:in :

  • cooperatives where people of a village work together for community development
  • Ndi Umunyarwanda: the “I am Rwandan” campaign where people are given a space to discuss history, repent on past crimes committed against another group and to some extent, assist with the healing process
  • Umuganda: once a month, people participate in collective community work dedicated for cleaning infrastructure, road repairs, etc.
  • Umugoroba w’ababyeyi: evening for parents within a village to discuss politics, community development, family and other issues

The programme has had its fair share of successes and failures, it aims to downplay the social, cultural and political significance of ethnic identity based on the belief that adopting a common identity as Rwandans will eventually heal the wounds left by  violence and reduce polarisation.[3 The programme involves mass re-education, as well as an overarching goals of serving justice. Upon reintegration of ex-combatants into Rwandan society, not only do they receive all rights as Rwandan citizens and are subject to taxes and domestic laws, they are also not held accountable for crimes of genocide they may have committed prior to fleeing Rwanda. [2] 

Despite the government’s attempts to put less emphasis on ethnic differences in Rwanda, ethnic identity continues to be a prominent aspect of their society. The prominent presence of ethnic differences requires the Rwandan government to aim to reconstruct a society where ethnicity is recognized, acknowledged and freely expressed socially and politically, as opposed to downplaying the significance of diversity within a deeply polarized society. 

https://www.hmd.org.uk/learn-about-the-holocaust-and-genocides/rwanda/

Germany’s attempts to make amends with the rest of the world after WW2 and the impacts of the Holocaust saw $60 billion in reparations through their Weidergutmachung (“To Make Good Again”) programme which goes towards direct survivors of the Holocaust, forced labourers and other victims of the Nazis. [4] This restitution programme is only a small part of Germany’s efforts to atone by recognizing and acknowledging their country’s past and the crimes they have committed. 

Using Germany’s example, for the Rwandan government to acknowledge their country’s history and struggles with ethnic differences, they need to give their people opportunities for discussion within a political space and be able to freely express themselves and discuss their differences. However, the government’s efforts have had its fair share of both success and failure. Rwandan studies have reported that the implementation and encouragement of cooperatives in the “One Nation” programme have contributed to “genuine reconciliation among direct victims and perpetrators of the genocide due to long-term interactions and gradual relationship-building.” [3]

Final Thoughts

The case in Rwanda covers the political and economic turmoil, social cleavages and instances of international intervention that both countries were affected by. Leading up to the genocide, military anxiety ran rampant, showing the significant role of the military when harboring fear and sense of threat as violence escalates. These causal factors for the eruption of 1994 Rwanda may provide helpful insight on predicting when violent conflict could occur in the future. As for Rwanda’s post-conflict reconciliation efforts, although their “One Nation” programme is built upon good intentions, it may be too soon to move past ethnic differences. Perhaps the government can incorporate more activities that provide their people the opportunity to openly discuss Rwandan history while also recognising and acknowledging each other’s’ ethnic differences.

Bibliography

[1] United Nations. Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect. Retrieved on https://www.un.org/en/genocideprevention/genocide.shtml. 2020.

[2] Jennifer, Melvin. ‘Reconstructing Rwanda: balancing human rights and the promotion of national reconciliation.’ The International Journal of Human Rights. 14:6, 944. 2010. Retrieved from https://www-tandfonline-com.ezproxy.auckland.ac.nz/doi/pdf/10.1080/13642987.2010.512139?needAccess=true&

[3] https://www.accord.org.za/conflict-trends/post-conflict-reconstruction-and-reconciliation-in-rwanda-and-sri-lanka/

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiedergutmachung 

Apply to be in the Public Policy Club Exec for 2021!

The Public Policy is opening Executive Committee positions for 2021! We are looking for passionate and self-led students to be a part of our team. In this role, you can work with other PPC team members to create content, competitions or events that increase youth engagement with public policy. You should be able to take the initiative to manage your team and your relevant projects, as well as collaborate with other teams. It’s important that you understand your commitments beforehand and can attend regular team and committee meetings.

Every role will have delegates available to support them. We’re open to discussing new ideas and ways of doing things that can be implemented in your team and throughout the executive. We want to continue to build on the successes of this young club and take our recognition and engagement further. If you want to be a part of a change-making club, apply now!

If you are applying for Content Leader or Graphics Leader, make sure to email your portfolio through our email at uoapublicpolicyclub@gmail.com.

APPLICATIONS CLOSE FRIDAY, DECEMBER 18th at 11:59PM

APPLY NOW!

Our three committees will be Development, Engagement and Administrative.

DEVELOPMENT TEAM

This team is made up of 7 leads

  • x2 Tertiary leads
  • x2 Professional Development leads
  • x2 High School leads
  • X2 Competition leads

Tertiary Development Leaders x2

This team will focus on developing UoA students’ knowledge of policy and political theory, as well as connecting them with employers in the public sector. The leaders will oversee the fortnightly forums, and find innovative ways to engage students in relevant public policy discussions.

Professional Development Leaders x2

The Professional Development leads will spearhead the Professional development Programme (or public sector mentoring). This team can also create further opportunities for students to develop relevant public sector skills (for example, through mentoring programmes, workshops, or other networking events).

High School Development Leaders x2

The purpose of this team is to extend our Civics Engagement Programme throughout Auckland. This Programme aims to embed civics education in high schools and includes directing and running workshops about voting and the NZ political system. The team will be working with a solid foundation to expand our reach. Ideally, applicants will have experience teaching/working with youth, a strong foundational knowledge of the NZ political system and are confident public speakers.

Competition Leaders x2

This team will organise our formal club competitions. This involves hosting such as the Policy Brief Competition and Case Competition. It may also involve thinking about what other collaborative work we can organise. The team leader needs to be a logistics master and a detailed planner.

ENGAGEMENT TEAM

 This team is made up of 4 leads

  • Content lead x2
  • Graphics lead
  • Marketing lead

Content Leaders x2

A content leader’s main role has traditionally been to edit and publish the articles created by the team of PPC writers (writer applications open at the start of Semester One in March). Together, the team produces regular articles on policy issues in a clear and condensed way such that it is easily understood by non-politically engaged readers. In 2019, the team also introduced a bi-weekly Newsletter called Policy Hive that included smaller analysis of current policy issues and PPC events. In 2020, we would aim to have this Newsletter published regularly from the start of the year. There is also scope in 2020 to introduce a series of articles covering the 2020 general election – similar to our past coverage of the 2017 campaign, as well as the 2019 local elections.

Marketing Leader x1

This role involves thinking about how to spread the word about PPC and its events/content. The role requires creativity, vision, and a clear understanding of the club. The marketing lead will primarily manage our social media but there is scope to increase PPC’s marketing presence by expanding to other marketing initiatives.

Graphics Leader x1

This team is in charge of helping all the other teams make their content/events look great. Graphics jobs cover posters, workshop info templates, Facebook graphics, the PPC website, infographics etc. Work is based on design briefs prepared by the organisers/exec members. This year, we anticipate that the Graphics Leader can work more closely with the event organisers to create the material by being involved throughout the process. The Graphics Leader will continue to be a crucial part of the design for the PPC Newsletter, Policy Hive. There’s definitely scope to put your own spin on the layout and design for our Newsletter.

ADMINISTRATIVE TEAM

This team is made up of 2 individuals who will work with both the development and the engagement committee

  • Treasurer/Sponsorship lead
  • Secretary/Sponsorship lead

Secretary/Sponsorship x1

The secretary is responsible for overseeing the administration of the club. This involves booking rooms for executive meetings and taking accurate meeting minutes. It also involves the chairing of the end of year Annual General Meeting (AGM) and having sound knowledge of the Public Policy Club Constitution. An ideal Secretary will be organised, have initiative, and ensure the Co-Presidents aren’t too bogged down with admin throughout the year. Much like in 2019, the Secretary will share the role of Sponsorship Manager with the Treasurer in 2020. Both Leaders will manage the club’s sponsors and external relations along with the Co-Presidents. The role will require you to be confident and proactive.

Treasurer/Sponsorship x1

The treasurer is responsible for monitoring and recording the cash flows of the club between members, the executive committee and external parties. The treasurer collates all transactions into financial reports in an accurate and transparent manner and assists the Co-Presidents in budgeting decisions. Study in finance or accounting would be an advantage, and the successful applicant will have at least basic financial literacy. Much like 2019, the Treasurer will share the role of Sponsorship Manager with the Secretary. Both Leaders will manage the club’s sponsors and external relations along with the Co-Presidents. The role will require you to be confident and proactive.

APPLY HERE NOW!

For any concerns about the application, or any further questions, do not hesitate to email us at uoapublicpolicyclub@gmail.com.

Blog | Nothing To Lose: Lessons from Portugal’s Drug Policy Reform

By Pau Sicat

It is quite rare that a government would propose drastic solutions like decriminalising all drugs as a way to alleviate the country’s drug problems, yet Portugal has done just that. Current day Portugal is like a dream come true for recreational drug users. In 2001, the government decriminalised all drugs, and sought to implement drug policies which effectively shifted the government’s focus from penalising recreational drug use and redirected it towards more rehabilitative measures that focus on health, treatment and reintegration. However, the question on whether or not Portugal’s drug reform would bring about similar success in other countries struggling with the war on drugs like the Philippines, the US, the UK and some countries in the Middle East remains unknown. Why does Portugal’s drug policies work so well for their country? Could other countries potentially follow suit with a policy transfer and recontextualise the drug policies through amendments to suit their situation better?

Context

The Portuguese Colonial War occurred from 1961 to 1974 in the country’s African colonies which led to a great number of soldiers being exposed to narcotics during their time overseas. This eventually led to Portugal’s drug crisis in the late 1990s. In the late 1990s, Portugal saw an escalation of problematic drug use with an estimated 1% of the population of a little over 10 million were addicted to heroin. This meant that 1 in every 100 Portuguese were addicted to heroin. At the time, the country was also dealing with high rates of HIV infection, ranking the highest in the European Union. In an attempt to tackle Portugal’s drug problem, the government formed the Commission for the National Strategy for Drug Control on February 16, 1998 and entrusted it with creating a proposal for a national strategy to combat drugs. [5] The process resulted in policies for the decriminalisation of illicit drugs, from marijuana to cocaine to heroin which ultimately shifted Portugal’s focus from criminal punishment to treatment and other rehabilitative measures.

Portugal’s move towards decriminalisation of drugs sought to implement the following policies to combat drug use across the country. [1]:

  • The National Strategy for the Fight Against Drugs and Drug Addiction (1999-2004): The strategy decriminalised drug use and reclassified drug use, possession, and purchase as civil offenses and does not go into the offender’s criminal record.
  • The National Plan for the Reduction of Addictive Behaviours and Dependencies (2013-2020): This policy picks up from the 1999 policy with the aim of reducing drug demand and drug supply by taking a wider and more unified stance towards drugs and addiction which includes substances, gambling, alcohol, prescription medications and anabolic steroids.
https://www.statista.com/chart/20616/key-developments-since-portugal-decriminalized-drugs/

Decriminalisation of Drugs: Radical or Reasonable?

Drugs are not legalised in Portugal, rather they are decriminalised. The Legalisation of drugs means the use, possession, manufacture and supply of narcotics do  not hold any criminal penalty. On the other hand, decriminalisation of drugs removes criminal penalties but not civil penalties for low-level offences. [4] Furthermore, offenders are directed to the Commission for the Dissuasion of Drug Addiction. The commission is made up of three specialised experts assessing the person; an attorney, a social worker and a psychiatrist. If all three professionals classify the person as having an addiction problem, they can either order them to do community service or offer them treatment; they cannot impose treatment on them. [4] In a report carried out by the Drug Policy Alliance, a non-profit organisation based in New York, the number of people in Portugal incarcerated for drug law violations has seen a decrease from 44% in 1999 to 24% in 2013. [1]

According to the Drug Policy Alliance, a policy of drug decriminalisation would make an effective solution to public health, social, and public safety issues surrounding the criminalization of drug possession. Their 2017 report lists the following to support the push towards drug decriminalisation policies in the case of the US. [1]:

  • Drastically reduces the number of people arrested, incarcerated, or otherwise swept into the justice system, thereby allowing people, their families and communities to avoid the many harms that flow from drug arrests, incarceration, and the lifelong burden of a criminal record;
  • Alleviates racial, ethnic and income-based disparities in the criminal justice system;
  • Improves the cost-effectiveness of limited public health resources;
  • Revises the current law enforcement incentive structure and redirects resources to prevent serious and violent crime;
  • Creates a climate in which people who are using drugs have an incentive to seek treatment;
  • Improves treatment outcomes (when treatment is called for);
  • Removes barriers to the implementation of practices that reduce the potential harms of drug use, such as drug checking (adulterant screening); and
  • Improves relationships between law enforcement agencies and the communities they have sworn to protect and serve.
https://www.drugpolicy.org/resource/its-time-us-decriminalize-drug-use-and-possession

Decriminalisation in Other Countries

Looking at how countries all over the world are tackling their war on drugs, countries like Ecuador have also moved toward decriminalisation as a solution to their country’s drug trafficking problems – such as in 2008 to reduce drug cartel activity. According to a 2019 report, Ecuador’s decriminalisation policies sent a shockwave through the population.Religiosity and morality are woven into their culture, which makes it difficult to garner support for drug reforms. Ecuador’s drug reform policies are not seeing the same success as Portugal, their government funding and oversight towards rehabilitation centres and other public health services meant to help addicts were lacking insufficient and therefore, largely inefficient. [6]

On the other hand, in 2012, Croatia decriminalised marijuana and implemented liberal policies to cover harder drugs. Those who get caught with harder drugs do not face jail time and instead potentially face fines, community service and rehabilitation. [7] Croatia’s number of offenders have not made any significant decrease since the drug policy reform. According to research, Croatia continues to have a massive problem with inefficiency and a lack of human resources and financial support for treatment programs. Furthermore, prevention continues to be a weak point of Croatian drug policy as it is based predominantly based on ineffective legal deterrence through punishment. Evaluation mechanisms of treatment, prevention and reintegration programs are insufficiently developed especially for drug offenders after serving their sentence. [8]

In the cases of Ecuador and Croatia, despite both countries implementing decriminalisation of drugs to some extent, neither of their governments sufficiently funded their public health sector for addicts which is why it has not seen much success overall. On the other hand, Portugal has government funding and efficient oversight to back up their level of commitment to their drug reform, which is why they have made the progress in their ongoing war on drugs.

Featured Image: https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/dec/05/portugals-radical-drugs-policy-is-working-why-hasnt-the-world-copied-it

[1] https://www.drugpolicy.org/resource/its-time-us-decriminalize-drug-use-and-possession

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dU5yiKBqCk&t=384s&ab_channel=VICE

[3] https://www.emcdda.europa.eu/countries/drug-reports/2019/portugal_en

[4] https://www.drugfoundation.org.nz/matters-of-substance/may-2013/drugs-are-legal-portugal/

[5] https://www.loc.gov/law/help/decriminalization-of-narcotics/portugal.php#:~:text=In%201999%2C%20after%20the%20approval,turned%20such%20conduct%20into%20misdemeanors.

[6] https://filtermag.org/ecuador-drug-decriminalization/

[7] https://www.inspiremalibu.com/blog/drug-addiction/10-countries-that-ended-their-war-on-drugs/

[8]https://www.researchgate.net/publication/303020326_Drug_Policy_and_Drug_Legislation_in_Croatia/citations

[9] https://www.vox.com/2016/4/25/11445454/end-war-on-drugs