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The influence of global players on the drug control system: an analysis of the role of the Russian Federation

Khalid Tinasti (Global Commission on Drug Policy, Geneva, Switzerland) (the Swansea University, Swansea, UK)
Isabela Barbosa (Underserved Population Programme, Geneva, Switzerland)

Drugs and Alcohol Today

ISSN: 1745-9265

Article publication date: 5 June 2017




The negotiations leading to the UN Special Session (UN General Assembly Special Session on drugs (UNGASS)) on drugs have highlighted the lack of consensus among the global players, with some strengthening the prohibitionist approach and others seeking policy reforms. The purpose of this paper is to focus on the Russian Federation’s national policies and diplomatic activism to influence the outcome of the negotiations at the multilateral level.


A systematic review of the federal legislation on drug control and the legislation on HIV/AIDS has been undertaking in October 2016. Peer-reviewed, grey literature, policy documents, UN reports and news reports were used to gather information on the country’s response to drugs internally and externally.


Despite its limited regional influence on harm reduction and declining financial power, the Russian Federation has been successful in preserving its international priorities by opposing harm reduction and maintaining the prohibition paradigm in the UNGASS outcome.

Research limitations/implications

Every effort was made to identify valid sources of information on the levers of influence of the Russian Federation. Little data were available on the real outcome of the efforts deployed in influencing the BRICS and other regional and international assemblies.


This paper presents an overview of the national policies of the Russian Federation, a global player, and provides a better understanding of how the national approach to illicit drugs and their perception influences its international position. It analyses the geographic, economic and diplomatic sphere of influence of the country in drug policies, and provides explanations on the successes and shortcomings of the Russian influence at the multilateral discussions on drugs.



Conflict of interest: the authors declare no competing interests. The views in this paper reflect the research of the authors and not those of the authors’ organizations.


Tinasti, K. and Barbosa, I. (2017), "The influence of global players on the drug control system: an analysis of the role of the Russian Federation", Drugs and Alcohol Today, Vol. 17 No. 2, pp. 124-134.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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