Virginia Comolli

Senior Fellow for Security and Development



  • Non-state armed groups, conflict trends
  • Nigeria, West Africa, Sahel
  • Violent Islamic extremism in Sub-Saharan Africa, transnational organised crime, hybrid insecurity

Languages: English, Italian

Summary: Virginia Comolli leads the Security and Development Programme, setting its research priorities and direction. She contributes to IISS research, represents the Institute at conferences internationally and in the media, and delivers briefings to government and corporate audiences.


  • 2014–2016: Research Fellow for Security and Development, IISS
  • 2012–2014: Research Associate for Transnational Threats, IISS
  • 2010: Expert Analyst, Ministry of Justice, UK (secondment)
  • 2007–2012: Research Analyst; Assistant to the Director of Transnational Threats and Political Risk, IISS

Selected Publications:

  • ‘Boko Haram and Islamic State’ in Akil Awal and Steven Staffell (eds.), Jihadism Transformed: Al-Qaeda and Islamic State’s Global Battle of Ideas (London: Hurst Publishers, 2016)
  • Boko Haram: Nigeria’s Islamist Insurgency (London: Hurst Publishers, 2015)
  • ‘The regional problem of Boko Haram’, Survival (57-4, 2015)
  • ‘Drug Markets, Security and Foreign Aid’, Modernising Drug Law Enforcement, Report 6, (London: IDPC, Chatham House, IISS, 2013) (with Claudia Hofmann)
  • Drugs, Insecurity and Failed States: The Problems of Prohibition (Oxon: Routledge, 2012) (with Nigel Inkster)

About the Security and Development Programme:

The Security and Development Programme studies how armed violence affects large urban centres in less-developed countries and limits their ability to meet development goals. In doing so, the team produces policy recommendations to mitigate the impact of insecurity, build resilience and reduce vulnerability to future challenges facing large cities in developing and emerging countries. The programme also considers the effectiveness of existing military and non-military responses to hybrid threats, with particular attention to the international challenge of organised crime.

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