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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 International Drug Policy Project 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.


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."


Damon Barrett is the Deputy Director of Harm Reduction International and the Director of the International Centre on Human Rights and Drug Policy based at Essex University. He was a member of the UK delegation to the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs from 2008 – 2011. Damon is an Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal on Human Rights and Drug Policy.

Area: International.


Ross Bell is Executive Director of the New Zealand Drug Foundation, a position he’s held since 2004. Ross is a board member of the International Drug Policy Consortium. Prior to his role at the Drug Foundation, Ross was involved in social policy advocacy and worked for New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Ross holds degrees in international aid and development.

Area: New Zealand.


Dr Henri Bergeron is Senior Research Fellow at the CNRS and Scientific coordinator of the Health Chair at Sciences PO. He was previously Deputy Scientific Coordinator of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, an EU Agency.

Area: France.


Professor David Bewley-Taylor is the Director of the Global Drug Policy Observatory at Swansea University. He is also a senior lecturer at Swansea. His main areas of interest are US drug policy, the UN and international drug policy and more recently counter narcotic strategies in Afghanistan.

Area: International.


Professor Catherine Comiskey is the Chairperson of the Irish National Advisory Committee on Drugs and Alcohol (NACDA). She is also Director of the Centre for Practice and Healthcare Innovation (CPHI) and a Professor of Healthcare Statistics in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Trinity College Dublin.

Area: Ireland.


Virginia Comolli is the Research Associate for Transational Threats at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). She co-authored the Adelphi Book Drugs, Insecurity and Failed States: the Problems of Prohibition (2012).

Area: West Africa.


Niamh Eastwood is Executive Director of Release, The UK's  national centre of expertise on drugs and drugs law. She recently co-authored a report in partnership with the LSE Mannheim Centre The Numbers in Black And White: Ethnic Disparities In The Policing And Prosecution Of Drug Offences In England And Wales.

Area: The United Kingdom.


Ann Fordham is Executive Director of the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC). Her previous role was at the International HIV/AIDS Alliance where she was engaged in policy work around prevention, treatment and care for people who use drugs.

Area: International.


Dr Patricia Lewis is the Research Director for International Security at Chatham House. Previously she served as Deputy Director at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at Monterey Institute of International Studies; Director of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research and the Director of VERTIC.

Area: International.


Donald MacPherson is Executive Director of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition. He holds an Adjunct Professor position in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. He is the author of Vancouver’s Four Pillars Drug Strategy that precipitated a broad public discussion on issues related to addiction in Vancouver. 

Area: Canada.


Geoff Monaghan is a Research Fellow with the Semeion Research Center, Italy. He is a former career detective with the London Metropolitan Police Service. Previously he served as the Regional Drugs and HIV/AIDS Expert at the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Russia; and as the HIV/AIDS Prevention and Care Expert for UNODC in Vietnam.

Area: Russia & South East Asia.


Katherine Pettus is Advocacy Officer for Human Rights and Palliative Care with the International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care. She holds a PhD in Political Theory from Columbia University in New York, and a Masters in Health Law and Policy from the University of California San Diego and California Western School of Law

Area: International


Lisa Sanchez is the Latin American Programme Manager for Transform Drug Policy Foundation and México Unido contra la Delincuencia. In 2013 she served as a member of the Organization of American States expert group producing the Report on the Drug Problem in the Americas. Lisa is currently a Chevening Scholar at LSE.

Area: Latin America.


Sanho Tree is a Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. He is director of the Drug Policy Project and an expert on the international drug war. He is a former military and diplomatic historian and in the late 1980s he worked at the International Human Rights Law Group.

Area: The United States.


Dr Dan Werb is a Visiting Postdoctoral Scholar at UC San Diego School of Medicine. He is a researcher at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and co-founder of the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy. 

Area: International.


Professor Yong-an Zhang is Director of the David F. Musto Centre for Drug Policy Studies at Shanghai University. Previously he was a Visiting Fellow of the Centre for Northeast Asian Policy Studies (CNAPS) at the Brookings Institution, and visiting Associate Professor of History of Medicine at Yale University’s School of Medicine.

Area: China.



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

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