International Drug Policy Unit

Setting the agenda on international drug control

The International Drug Policy Unit (IDPU) is a cross-regional and multidisciplinary project, designed to establish a global centre for excellence in the study of international drug policy.


I have long believed a 'war on drugs' to be a simplistic and counterproductive response to a complex policy issue. I am delighted to see LSE take a strong lead on developing a new generation of evidence in this field and harnessing it for use by policy makers as they move beyond the failures of the 'war on drugs' era.

George P. Shultz


By utilising LSE's academic expertise and networks, IDPU fosters new research, analysis, and debate of global drug policies.

Working closely with governments and policymakers around the world, it develops innovative evidence analysis and helps design and implement new policies at local, national, regional and international levels.

History of the International Drug Policy Unit

In 2012, LSE 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.

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.

The Expert Group's ground-breaking study, Ending the Drug Wars, was published in 2014. This hugely influential report was named one of the top ten policy studies by a think-tank worldwide.

The IDPU expanded, working with governments around the world and hosting Policy Planning Workshops to research and examine the economic and social scientific evidence on global drug policy.

In 2016, the Expert Group published After the Drug Wars, ahead of the UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS). The report was presented before its release to the Colombian government at a packed event in Bogota and at an UN meeting in Vienna.

Since then, IDPU has appointed its first Visiting Fellows and Visiting Senior Fellow, held the first Innovation Lab in Rome, and co-hosted 2016 Nobel Peace Prize winner Colombian President Santos at LSE.

In September 2017, the International Drugs Policy Project became the International Drugs Policy Unit, and transferred to the LSE's United States Centre.

Journal of Illicit Economies and Development

The Journal of Illicit Economies and Development (JIED) is an initiatve of the International Drug Policy Unit, published by LSE Press. It is a peer-reviewed, open access, electronic journal publishing research and policy commentary on the complex relationship between illicit markets and development. JIED journal is cross-disciplinary and engages with academics, practitioners, and decision makers in facilitating for interventions and development planning that incorporates an in-depth understanding of the dynamics of illicit markets. 

Visit the JIED website for more information.

Subscribe to receive regular email updates from JIED.

The International Drug Policy Unit is supported by 
Open Society Foundations, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (giz) and LSE Knowledge Exchange and Impact. 

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Contact us


Telephone +44 (0)20 7107 5630


LSE International Drug Policy Unit, Centre Building, 10th floor, 2 Houghton Street, London, WC2A 2AD

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