Global Drug Policy Observatory

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GDPO - image 1National 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 increased 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.   

Reporting - Monitoring - Analysis

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Within this context, The Global Drug Policy 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 initiative aims to help improve the sophistication and horizons of the current policy debate among the media and elite opinion formers as well as within law enforcement and policy making communities.

The Observatory engages in a range of research activities that explore not only the dynamics and implications of existing and emerging policy issues, but also the processes behind policy shifts at various levels of governance.

The GDPO Team

Dave Bewley-Taylor 3Professor David Bewley-Taylor, GDPO Director

David is a Professor of International Relations and Public Policy within the Department of Political and Cultural Studies. 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. David has published widely on many of these and other topics, has collaborated with and produced policy reports for a range of drug policy organizations beyond academia and at present is an Associate of the International Drug Policy Consortium and a Associate Fellow of the Transnational Institute’s Drugs and Democracy Programme. He is editor-in-chief of the GDPO Policy Reports, Policy Briefs and Situation Analyses.‌


Ross Eventon, GDPO Research Assistant

Ross has been researching and writing about conflict, social justice, human rights and drug policy for over 5 years. For two years he was based in Latin America, primarily Colombia, where he researched paramilitary violence in rural areas and took part in numerous human rights delegations, often accompanying communities under threat. His publications include a series on the Afghan war for the Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre (NOREF) - Russia, Afghanistan and the Great Game, Russia, the U.S. and Drugs in Afghanistan, The War for Afghanistan - and reports for the Amsterdam based Transnational Institute (TNI) - A Veritable Revolution: The Land Restitution Law and the Transformation of Rural Colombia,Eyes Wide Shut: Corruption and Drug-related Violence in Rosario. Ross was previously the Samuel Rubin Young Fellow at TNI. He holds an MA in International Relations from Webster Graduate School and a BSc in Economics from the University of York.

Liz Whitwell, Administrative Assistant

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Liz has worked at Swansea University since August 1991 and graduated this year with a BA Hons from Swansea University. Before joining the College of Arts and Humanities in September 2012 she previously worked in the Department of Adult Continuing Education (DACE), which offers a wide range of part-time courses to prospective students without prior qualifications.





Danielle Richards, Administrative Assistant

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Danielle has worked in the University since 2009. Before joining the College of Arts and Humanities, Danielle worked in a number of different departments around the University, including within the College of Medicine, English Language Training Service, Bioscience, Human Resources and also Academic Registry. Danielle is the Student Information Assistant for the College of Arts and Humanities.




 Julia Buxton

Julia Buxton, GDPO Senior Research Associate

Julia is Professor of Comparative Politics in the School of Public Policy at the Central European University, Budapest ( She researches on narcotic drug markets, with a specific focus on the inter-relationship between illicit drug economies, conflict, peacebuilding, and economic and democratic transitions. She has a particular interest in the impacts of counter narcotics strategies on gender, social justice and development. Her drug related publications include The Political Economy of Narcotics (Zed, 2006), the edited collection The Politics of Narcotic Drugs (Europa 2010), ‘Opportunity Lost: Alternative Development in Drug Control’ in J. Tokatlian (ed) Old Wars: New Thinking, (Libros Zorazal, 2010); ‘A History of Drug Control’ in P. Keefer and N. Loayza (eds) Innocent Bystanders, (World Bank Publications, 2010) and ‘The UK drug problem in global perspective’, Soundings, Issue 42, Summer 2009.

Twitter: @BuxtonJulia


Tim Bingham, GDPO Research Associate

Tim Bingham

Tim Bingham is a researcher on emerging drug trends and on-line drug market places. He has authored and co-authored a number of journal articles on these issues (, with a recent focus on the ‘Dark Web’ and the on-line drug commerce site Silk Road. These include Surfing the Silk Road’: A study of users’ experiences and Responsible vendors, intelligent consumers: Silk Road, the online revolution in drug tradingin the International Journal of Drug Policy.  In 2013 he was a member of an expert panel at the Drug Policy Alliance Conference in Colorado on new and emerging drugs and presented to the European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction on the Silk Road market place, the developments of drug markets and crime and supply reduction.  Tim holds a BA Honours in Applied Addiction Studies and a Diploma in the Psychology in Criminal Behaviour and is a visiting lecturer to a number of Universities in Ireland. 


Constanza AvilesConstanza Sánchez Avilés, GDPO Research Associate

Constanza Sánchez Avilés is a PhD candidate in International Relations at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF) and received her LL.M. at the UPF and M.A. in International Relations at the Barcelona Institute of International Studies (IBEI). From 2007 to 2013 she worked as Teaching Assistant at the Department of Public International Law and International Relations at the UPF, where she completed her master thesis, entitled "The US war on drugs in Latin America. A study of new forms of hegemonic action". Her work focuses on political economy of illicit drugs, transnational organized crime and national and international drug control policies. She has been visiting scholar at the University of Miami (2010) and the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego (2012) and did fieldwork on drug policies in Peru, United States, Mexico and the US-Mexican border.

Emily CrickEmily Crick, GDPO Research Associate

Emily has been working as a researcher on drug policy issues for five years including two years as a research associate at Transform Drug Policy Foundation where she contributed to ‘After the War on Drugs: Blueprint for Regulation’.  She is currently undertaking a PhD at Swansea University analysing the securitization of drugs by the UN, US and Russia.  Before this she carried out research into sport and national identity in Pakistan and India and spent 10 years working in the international media for companies including Reuters and NBC News. Her recent publications include Drugs as an Existential Threat - An Analysis of the International Securitization of Drugs, International Journal of Drug Policy, September 2012. Emily is responsible for co-ordinating the GDPO Postgraduate Network.