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Coca, Bolivia, and the War on Drugs: the Tension between Freedom from Fear and Freedom from Want

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posted on 2021-11-10, 09:33 authored by Yap, Renee

This thesis aims to demonstrate the tension between human security's core categories of freedom from fear and freedom from want. The two core categories of human security are often held to be complementary to each other. However, by applying a human security analysis to the War on Drugs in Bolivia, particularly with reference to the ideas of freedom from fear and freedom from want, it can be seen that the War on Drugs in Bolivia typifies a freedom from fear approach. This is illustrated through the War on Drugs focus on protecting individuals from physical violence and human rights abuses relating to situations of conflict, as well as its use of coercion strategies, such as sanctions or non-unilateral force; all of these of which are usual to a freedom from fear approach. An examination of how the War on Drugs has impacted upon the individuals of Bolivia reveals that despite the desired outcome of protecting individual safety and well-being, the War on Drugs has actually compromised the safety and well-being of Bolivians. In addition, in typifying freedom from fear, the War on Drugs in Bolivia has also challenged freedom from want by marginalising or threatening economic, community, food and health security, and thus defying claims that freedom from fear and freedom from want are complementary. This thesis concludes that by pursuing political and personal security, freedom from fear marginalises and even contests food, health, environmental and most especially economic and community security - the focal points of freedom from want. Security policies adopted to address transnational threats in developing countries must ensure that they not only account for the freedom from fear and freedom from want components of human security, but that they also account for, and manage, the potential for freedom from fear to undermine the wider goals of freedom from want.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

International Relations

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of International Relations

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations


Shilliam, Robbie