Virginia Comolli

Senior Fellow for Security and Development


Main Responsibilities:

  • Establish an independent Security and Development Programme
  • Research complex forms of insecurity afflicting the developing world, with attention to the way in which development objectives are being hampered by these challenges, and what the appropriate policy responses should be
  • Represent the IISS internationally at conferences and in the media
  • Perform an advisory role in respect of the Chart of Conflict and West African conflicts covered in the Armed Conflict Database
  • Project management, development of project proposals and fundraising 


Virginia Comolli runs the IISS Security and Development Programme established in 2014. She first joined the Institute's Defence Analysis Department in 2006 conducting research on Sub-Saharan Africa. A member of the Transnational Threats and Political Risk team between 2007 and 2014, she worked on international terrorism, radicalisation, organised crime and conflict with a special focus on West Africa, the Sahel and Latin America. In this capacity she was seconded to the UK Ministry of Justice.

Prior experience includes working for the intelligence unit of a private security company where she concentrated on the Persian Gulf region, the Maghreb and Afghanistan. She also had a previous brief experience with a strategic intelligence company.

Virginia is a member of the European Expert Network on Terrorism Issues (EENeT) and of the Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime. She seats on the international advisory board of the African Centre for Peace Building (AFCOPB), Ghana, and acts as a Project Associate for the International Drug Policy Project at the London School of Economics (LSE) and as a Technical Advisor at the Global Drug Policy Observatory at Swansea University, UK.

Virginia holds a First Class Honours degree in War Studies and American Studies from the University of Wolverhampton and a Master's degree in Intelligence and Strategic Studies at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.


Virginia is the author of Boko Haram: Nigeria’s Islamist Insurgency (London: Hurst, 2015) and the co-author on the Adelphi Book Drugs, Insecurity and Failed States: the Problems of Prohibition (2012).

Back to IISS experts list