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Regulations and prohibitions: Anglo-American relations and international drug control, 1939-1964

Collins, John (2015) Regulations and prohibitions: Anglo-American relations and international drug control, 1939-1964. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis examines the Anglo-American Relationship around international drug control and addresses two main questions: first, was there a ‘special relationship’ in the field of drug control? Second, what impact did their relationship have on international control efforts? It highlights that the relationship was far from ‘special’ and was frequently strained. Further, it argues that the outcomes of international drug control efforts, between the collapse of the League of Nations system during World War II and the coming into force of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs in 1964, derived from a triangulation of three international drug control blocs: control advocate states, led by the US; producing states and their noninterventionist allies, led by Turkey and the Soviet Union; and moderate manufacturing and consuming countries, led by the UK. In this triangulation process the UK and US remained the lead international actors and represented the two core policy strands within the system: regulation and prohibition respectively. The Anglo-American drug relationship saw overlap and division in policy interests, resulting in both cooperation and competition. They overlapped around pursuing a global regulatory system managing the flows of ‘dangerous drugs’ internationally. They diverged around the peripheral or frontier aspects of this system: namely, where to draw the line between licit and illicit consumption; how tightly to restrict, regulate and prohibit global production; how much national oversight and interference to provide international organisations; and how to deal with existing drug consuming populations. Where their policy interests overlapped, and when the UK and US consciously worked together, international political progress was possible. Where the two diverged, around strict adherence to prohibitionist principles; overly restricting the manufacturing sector’s ability to procure raw materials; and assuming national obligations for a repressive ‘closed institutional’ model of dealing with ‘addiction’, political momentum generally stalled. Finally, this thesis argues that the 1961 Single Convention evolved via Anglo-American ‘competitive cooperation’ and was ultimately a joint Anglo-American creation: a regulatory system with prohibitionist aspects. However, the 1961 Single Convention ultimately represented a victory for the regulatory strand and the UK over the US-led prohibitionist strand.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2015 John Collins
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > International History
Supervisor: Ashton, Nigel

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