The sacrificial international : the war on drugs and the imperial violence of law

Koram, Kwadwo Nyadu (2018) The sacrificial international : the war on drugs and the imperial violence of law. Doctoral thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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Abstract

The United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961 is presumed to be a testament to the progressive teleology of post-war liberal international law. In establishing the prohibition of the illegitimate trade of drugs as a global norm, this treaty serves as the legal grounding for what is popularly referred to as the War on Drugs. International drug prohibition offers a potent exemple of the humanitarian discourse taken to anchor the international legal order in the second half of the twentieth century. In practice, the failure of realising ‘A Drug Free World’ has been outright; international law’s declaration of a War on Drugs has produced little more than the same mass of casualties that all wars tend to produce. In an attempt to enforce the unenforceable, the drug war has visited social death (through mass imprisonment) and material death (through violent state enforcement) onto untold millions. Moreover, empirical studies reveal a sharp racial and geographical asymmetry in the violence that emerged through drug prohibition In this thesis, I will theoretically unpack the apparent contradiction between the humanitarian rhetoric of the international laws governing drug prohibition and the racialised violence of the War on Drugs in practice. Rejecting the orthodoxies that seek to decouple the violence of the war from the law itself, I read the drug war as a telling instantiation of a violence that is not only consistent with but also productive of the liberal international legal order. Through unpacking the discursive association that has been produced between drugs and racial others posited as the negation of idealised ‘human’ underlying liberal international law’s humanitarianism, this thesis will employ a critical study of the War on Drugs in order demonstrate how the operative coherence of twentieth-century liberal international law remained indebted to a violence that I have termed as ‘sacrificial.’

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
School/Department: School of Law
Depositing User: ORBIT Editor
Date Deposited: 01 Mar 2018 18:08
Last Modified: 01 Mar 2018 18:08
URI: http://bbktheses.da.ulcc.ac.uk/id/eprint/307

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