An update on Dr Dave Bewley-Taylor's project which focuses on the policy formulation process behind opium control strategies in Afghanistan.

This project focuses upon the policy formulation process behind the largely ineffective and often counterproductive opium control strategies operating in Afghanistan since the allied intervention in 2001. Applying the organizational framework of ‘Policy Transfer’ analysis to, until recently, the predominantly external development of the Afghan National Drug Control Strategy (NDCS), it explores the dynamics surrounding the limited engagement of local actors, particularly analysts and scholars, within that process. In this context, the project seeks to not only provide a critique of Counter Narcotics (CN) policy making, but also work towards the development of in-country analytic capacity, generate transnational linkages and enhance the involvement in policy formulation and evaluation of Afghan scholars and analysts who possess invaluable and often overlooked local knowledge. This is of increasing importance within the current transition environment; an environment where CN seems to have slipped from the political agenda.

Dave Bewley-Taylor  Since the project began in September 2011, Dave has been conducting a wide-ranging set of interviews with policy-makers and analysts (both in post, retired and those now working in different fields) within the UK and the USA. In this regard, he has met individuals from the US State Department’s International Law Enforcement and Narcotics Affairs Bureau, the Office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, the World Bank, USAID, the US Government Accounting Office, the Pentagon, the DEA, Brookings Institute, the FCO and DFID. In the course of his research he has also interviewed former US ambassador to Afghanistan.

In addition to conducting further primary research, the capacity building and networking components of the project took Dave to Kabul in early May 2012. There he met with officials from the Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics, the British Embassy and the UN Office of Drugs and Crime. He also spent time with the Director, Sultan Mohammad, and some of the core staff of the Organization for Sustainable Development and Research (OSDR). This Kabul based NGO is the lead Afghan partner for the project. Additionally, Dave was privileged to meet a group of Helmandi field researchers who were in Kabul for an FCO project debrief with OSDR and the opium survey leader David Mansfield, consultant and research fellow at Tufts University’s Feinstein International Centre.

In late May Sultan Mohammad took part, via teleconferencing, in an off-the-record colloquium organized with the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in London. Co-funded by the International Drug Policy Consortium and chaired by Nigel Inkster, Director of Transnational Threats and Political Risk at IISS, ‘CN Policies in Afghanistan: transition and Beyond’ involved presentations from Dave and David Mansfield and generated productive discussions among the other participants. These included an interesting mix of individuals including representatives of the UK government (FCO and Home Office), NGOs and Afghan country experts and academics.


(See IISS blog on the event - http://iissvoicesblog.wordpress.com/2012/06/11/rethinking-the-drugs-war-in-afghanistan/)

Dr David Bewley-Taylor is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Political and Cultural Studies at Swansea University.