Africa is rapidly emerging as a new locus of the global drug trade and a key target of the 'war on drugs'. This panel will address issues of consumption and transhipment of traditional and modern drugs from political, cultural and public health perspectives.
Over the past two decades, Africa has emerged as a new locus of drug trafficking and consumption on the transnational crimescape, making it a key new target of the 'war on drugs'. Linkages with organised crime groups from South America, the Far East and Europe, have enhanced the capacity of African traffickers to challenge state-based security agencies. At the same time, literal interpretation of anti-drug policies, dominated by imported models and mediated by UN agencies, has resulted in repression of domestic drug consumption, but little control over transit activity. Presenting research in East, West and southern Africa, this panel will address the continent's role both as a transhipment zone and an expanding market for heroin and cocaine, while drawing out contrasts and commonalities with other drugs including khat and the ubiquitous cannabis. It will examine the social organisation of informal and criminal networks that incorporate African countries into transnational economies, as well as local entrepreneurship, national and international institutions of policing and control. These interactions will be reviewed in the light of foreign-inspired policies to curb the drug trade throughout the continent, and in the broader context of the global war on drugs. The actual role of drugs in African society, both traditional and modern will also be scrutinised. The panel will explore the social and cultural parameters of drug consumption, the ways in which African states attempt to control those trading and consuming drugs, as well as the progress of policy-making endeavours vis-à-vis medical support for drug users.