Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Making policy in Iran

The starting point for cooperation is agreement.

Nearly everyone agrees that non-theraputic drug use is a bad thing. But, the perceptions of causes, the beliefs about deterrents, and the context within which policies are made can complicate the process of cooperation.

Bill Samli writes on the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty web site that those complications are exactly what Iran is facing in its fight against illegal drug use, production, and transport.

Ask your students to identify the problems in policy making outlined in this article. (The whole article has many more details than this excerpt.) Then ask them to compare this policy making arena with the policy making environment in another country: most similar, perhaps China; most different, probably the UK.

Iran: UN Helps Combat Drug Problem, But Bureaucracy Could Hinder Effort

"Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), announced a $22 million contribution to Iran during his November 7-9 visit to that country...

"For more than two decades, the Iranian government concentrated on interdiction as the preferred way to deal with drug abuse. Tehran insisted it was a supply-driven problem. Despite mounting anecdotal evidence, it dismissed suggestions that unemployment and a lack of constructive social outlets might be behind the demand for drugs.

"It was only in the final years of President Mohammad Khatami's administration (1997-2005) that a greater proportion of the drug-fighting budget was earmarked for demand reduction.

"The creation of new addiction-treatment camps suggests that the Ahmadinejad administration -- after some deliberation -- has decided to continue on that path.

"This emphasis on the demand side could help curb Iran's drug problem, as might the United Nations' recently announced financial contribution.

"But competition within the Iranian counternarcotics community could hinder success. A deputy national police chief, Colonel Seyyed Hassan Batouli, said recently that 13 organizations are involved in the drug fight, Mardom Salari reported on October 5. The state prosecutor-general, Qorban Ali Dori-Najafabadi, noted that each province is conducting its own campaign, Hemayat" reported on October 2. 

"Resolving those bureaucratic issues could be as important as any funding from the United Nations. But it is unclear whether UNODC chief Costa addressed these problems during his recent trip to Iran."

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