IISS-WOLA-IDPC Discussion Meeting
Virginia Comolli
Research Associate for Transnational Threats, IISS
David Bewley-Taylor
Associate, International Drug Policy Consortium; Professor, Swansea University, U.K.
Vanda Felbab-Brown
Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution
IISS-US, Washington DC
Wednesday 06 November

For decades, drug law enforcement has been focused on the ultimate goal of reducing the size of the illicit drug market: eradicating drug production, distribution and retail supply. It has become increasingly clear in recent years that these strategies have been unable to significantly or permanently reduce the supply of, or demand for, the main drugs of choice in consumer markets. Given this reality, drug law enforcement strategies need to be adjusted to fit the new challenge – to manage drug markets in a way that minimizes the range of harmful impacts on communities – crime, corruption, money laundering, and threats to health and development goals. The Modernising Drug Law Enforcement Project being carried out by IISS, IDPC and Chatham House aims, through a publication series, network development and  seminars, to collate and refine theoretical material and practical examples of these new approaches, and to promote debate amongst policy makers, law enforcement leaders and experts on the implications for future strategies.


Virginia Comolli is the Research Associate for Transnational Threats at IISS in London. In her current capacity she has responsibility for extremism, transnational organized crime, and security threats in West Africa and the Sahel.  Previous experience includes a secondment to the British Ministry of Justice and work for a private security company and a strategic intelligence firm. Virginia is the co-author with Nigel Inkster of “Drugs, Insecurity and Failed States: the Problems of Prohibition” (London: Routledge, 2012) and author of a forthcoming book on Boko Haram’s insurgency in Nigeria (Hurst Publishers/Oxford University Press, 2014).

David Bewley-Taylor is a Professor of International Relations and Public Policy and Director of the Global Drug Policy Observatory within the College of Arts and Humanities at Swansea University. He gained his PhD from the University of Wales in 1996, was appointed as a lecturer at Swansea University in 2000 and has been a visiting lecturer at a number of Universities in the US, including the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He is an IDPC Associate, where he directs the Modernizing Drug Law Enforcement Project, an Associate Fellow at the Transnational Institute and was the founding secretary of the International Society for the Study of Drug Policy. His most recent book is International Drug Control: Consensus Fractured (Cambridge University Press, 2012).

Vanda Felbab-Brown is a senior fellow with the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence in the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institute. She is an expert on international and internal conflicts and nontraditional security threats, including insurgency, organized crime, urban violence, and illicit economies. Her fieldwork and research have covered, among others, Afghanistan, South Asia, Burma, Indonesia, the Andean region, Mexico, Morocco, Somalia, and eastern Africa. She is the author of Aspiration and Ambivalence: Strategies and Realities of Counterinsurgency and State-Building in Afghanistan (The Brookings Institution Press, 2012) and Shooting Up: Counterinsurgency and the War on Drugs (Brookings Institution Press, 2009).

The discussion was chaired by Randolph Bell, Managing Director, IISS-US and took  place at IISS-US, 2121 K Street NW, Suite 801, Washington, DC 20037.

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