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By Martin Elvins (auth.)

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Global change has provided the pretext to broadly reconstruct the international system based around these normative principles. In broad terms this has been attempted along neo-liberal lines, with restatement of the principle of national sovereignty uppermost in this process. The constraints of the process are that it has also brought change at national and sub-national levels, putting pressure on state managers to adapt existing political structures and systems of control to this new situation.

This has led to a situation whereby the realist school of thought (re-formations and variations accepted) has generally taken sovereignty as being about the ability of a state to take authoritative decisions: ultimately, to declare war. In contrast, the liberal interdependence school (which first emerged in the 1970s) has tended to view sovereignty in terms of the ability of a state to control flows across and within its territorial borders. However, both schools have contributed to the notion that conceives of the state as a unitary entity, viewing it holistically.

European (EC–EU) governments have tended to portray the threat from drug trafficking in the broadest of terms, focusing largely on the removal of internal border controls as a factor likely to raise trafficking levels (and hence deemed to increase the supply of drugs and levels of associated violence and money laundering). During the 1980s, official discourse began to support the idea that drug trafficking organizations were operating in ways that made them akin to clandestine corporations (often working together in ‘cartels’).

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