A new and innovative Global Drug Policy Observatory is to be launched at Swansea University, following an award of $370,000 US Dollars to expert Dr David Bewley-Taylor by the Open Society Foundation.
The Observatory, located in the Research Institute for Arts and Humanities (RIAH), will promote evidence and human rights based drug policy at national and international levels.
It will produce reports on a wide range of existing and emerging drug policy issues, develop a website/new media platform and organise seminars and policy dialogues. For example, reports will be released this summer on the illicit drug market in West Africa and moves towards the legalisation of recreational cannabis use in some US states.
Dr Bewley-Taylor said: “National and international drug policies and programmes that privilege harsh law enforcement and punishment in an effort to eliminate the cultivation, production, trade and use of controlled substances – what has become known as the ‘war on drugs’ - are coming under increasing scrutiny.
This is driven by concerns that such a policy approach often results in ineffective strategies that not only have limited impacts in reducing the harmful consequences of the illicit market, but also can themselves lead to significant adverse consequences in a range of domains including public health, human rights, governance and security."
Professor Chris Williams, Director of Swansea’s Research Institute for Arts and Humanities said: “Dr Bewley-Taylor’s international standing in this fast-moving and highly topical field has been demonstrated by this impressive new award. It is another example both of how research in the arts and humanities can connect meaningfully to the issues and problems of modern society, and of the innovative work being carried on by colleagues at Swansea University.”
Former president of Switzerland and Minister of Home Affairs, current member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy and Chair of the Observatory’s Advisory Board, Ruth Dreifuss, said: “Awareness of the need to review current drug control policies is growing in jurisdictions worldwide. So is the political will to experiment with new policy approaches. Nothing is more timely than the establishment and operation of an observatory to provide analysis of such experiences and to allow policy reforms to be based on evidence: evidence of failures and evidence of successes.”
Dr Bewley-Taylor added: “The Observatory aims to promote evidence and human rights based drug policy through the comprehensive and rigorous reporting, monitoring and analysis of policy developments at national and international levels. Acting as a platform from which to reach out to and engage with broad and diverse audiences, the work that we undertake aims to help improve the sophistication of the current policy debate among elite opinion formers as well as within law enforcement and policy-making communities.”
Dr Bewley-Taylor is a senior lecturer within the Department of Political and Cultural Studies (PCS). He has been researching various aspects of drug policy for over twenty years with his main areas of interest being US drug policy, the UN and international drug policy and more recently counter narcotic strategies in Afghanistan, an issue area that took him to Kabul in 2012.
More on this story in the Media:
- Wednesday 26 June 2013 08.00 BST
- Monday 8 July 2013 16.50 BST
- RIAH, Swansea University