Brooklyn Journal of International Law


Jonathan Hasson

First Page



The Article examines Thailand's political economy of drugs and use of sanctions, including capital punishment, using a historical approach. It traces Thailand's nation building and emergence as a global hub for illicit drugs against the backdrop of European and US interventions since the colonial era. The Article reveals how Western concepts and discourses were appropriated by Thai elites to advance local agendas while suppressing democratic movements. The Article explores how the drug trade became entangled with government corruption, militarization, and extrajudicial state violence which often targeted ethnic minorities. In light of recent cannabis policy changes, the Article considers the historical trajectory of Thailand's drug policies and laws. It locates the origins of contemporary developments in the historical role of Western powers in Thailand's drug production and control. The Article touches on both formal and informal punishment systems related to drugs, highlighting the relationship between commuting death sentences and periodic extrajudicial killings. In conclusion, it cautions against portraying human rights as moral imperialism, and argues for recognizing the role of grassroots activism in the context of anti-death penalty efforts.