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International Drug Policy Project

International Drug Policy Project

The LSE IDEAS International Drug Policy Project is a large scale multidisciplinary and cross-regional research undertaking. It has been created to produce a deep strategic re-evaluation of the international drug control system through rigorous academic research and policy analysis. 

The current strategy originated in 1909 with aim of eradicating the use of certain drugs by controlling their supply. It was solidified in the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and subsequent treaties. Its execution is currently governed through the UN drug control system and is led by a number of core states.

In 2012 IDEAS released the Governing the Global Drug Wars Report. It represented a far reaching examination of the historical evolution of the international drug control system and discussed potential options for reform. It concluded that "no serious scholar questioned" that international drug control efforts had largely failed. Further it concluded that the current strategy was making the situation worse in many important respects, ranging from human rights to socio-economic development.

Following this report, the Expert Group on the Economics of Drug Policy was created to produce a thorough and independent economic analysis of the current international drug control strategy. It aims to provide the hard economic evidence required by policy makers to make sound tactical and strategic decisions as they pursue a more effective approach to managing global drug issues.

Supported by:

Supported by

Project Director


Professor Michael Cox is Founding Co-Director of LSE IDEAS. He is also Head of the United States Programme. He has also acted as Academic Director  of  both  the LSE/PKU Summer School and of the Executive Summer School. In  2011 he launched a new Executive Masters in Global Strategy designed to teach senior foreign policy practitioners. 


Expert Group Chair


Professor Danny Quah is Professor of Economics and International Development, and Director of the Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre within the Institute of Global Affairs at LSE. He had previously served as LSE’s Head of Department for Economics (2006 – 2009) and Council Member on Malaysia’s National Economic Advisory Council (2009 – 2011). Quah is Tan Chin Tuan Visiting Professor at the National University of Singapore, and lectures regularly at Peking University.


Project Coordinator


Dr. John Collins is the IDPP Coordinator at LSE IDEAS. His research focuses on the history of international drug control. He edited the 2012 LSE IDEAS Report Governing the Global Drug Wars.


Project Assistant

Jay Pan

Jay Pan is the Project Assistant for the IDPP. He is currently studying history at the LSE and went to school in Cambridge. Previously, Jay has worked at HSBC, a law firm, The Historical Association and the UK National Archives. Jay is the Co-Editor-in-Chief of the inaugural LSE Economic History Review as well as a keen social activist.


Policy Associate

Alexander Soderholm

Alexander Soderholm is the Policy Associate of the IDPP. He completed an MSc in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies at the LSE in 2015. Upon finishing his studies, he interned for the UNODC in Tehran, having previously worked in a number of developing countries. His research focuses on the intersection between drugs and development, specifically on scaling up harm reduction in the Middle East.


The Global Drug War: Ten Critical Developments in 2014

Article by Nick Alexandrov detailing some of the important changes seen on the international stage over the previous year, arguing that "the policy of prohibition...fuels the very war it is allegedly intended to end."

Find out more about the International Drug Policy Project's Expert Group on the Economics of Drug Policy.

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