The Rhetoric of International Drug Control Academic Article uri icon


  • The Commission on Narcotics Drugs, a United Nations political organ, meets every year in Vienna. Country statements from the Commission's general debate in 1994 and 1995 are analyzed in terms of their rhetorical framing. The dominant frame is of drugs as a scourge or menace against which a war must be waged. There is consensus that the war is being lost. International cooperation and solidarity are proposed as what will turn the tide; in the context of a losing battle, calls for decriminalization are seen as an unacceptable surrender. Fairly uniformly, this rhetorical framing is put forward by a majority of countries, and no clear alternative framing is presented. Historical resonances of the framing and possible future developments are considered.

publication date

  • January 1999