David is a Professor of International Relations and Public Policy and founding Director of the Global Drug Policy Observatory (2013). He was appointed as a lecturer at Swansea University in 2000 and since then has been visiting faculty at universities in the US (University of Wilmington), Australia (University of Sydney), Hungary (Central European University) and India (Jodhpur National University).

David has been researching aspects of drug policy for over 20 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. He has written two major research monographs - The United States and International Drug Control, 1909-1997 (Continuum, 2001) and International Drug Control: Consensus Fractured (Cambridge University Press, 2012) - a number of book chapters and published in a wide range of academic journals. David has given papers in Europe, North American and Australia and is a speaker or invited participant at civil society and government drug policy dialogues, colloquia and symposiums.

David was the founding Secretary of the International Society for the Study of Drug Policy (2006-7), and is currently on the Editorial Boards of The International Journal of Drug Policy and the International Journal on Human Rights and Drug Policy. He is also a member of the International Advisory Committee of the International Centre on Human Rights and Drug Policy, (University of Essex), a member of the International Advisory Board of the David F. Musto Center for Drug Policy Studies (Shanghai University), an Associate of the LSE IDEAS International Drug Policy Project and a technical advisor to the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy. David has collaborated with and produced policy reports for a range of drug policy organisations beyond academia and at present is an Associate of the International Drug Policy Consortium and a Research Fellow of the Transnational Institute’s Drugs and Democracy Programme.


  1. Canada, cannabis legalization and uncertainty around the United Nations drug control conventions. Addiction 113(7), 1226-1228.
  2. (2017). Narcotics Anonymous: Crypto-drug markets adapt to law enforcement intervention. (Jane's Intelligence Review No. 29).
  3. Refocusing metrics: can the sustainable development goals help break the ‘metrics trap’ and modernise international drug control policy?. Drugs and Alcohol Today 17(2)
  4. & Access to controlled medicines for anesthesia and surgical care in low-income countries: a narrative review of international drug control systems and policies. Canadian Journal of Anesthesia/Journal canadien d'anesthésie 64(3), 296-307.
  5. & (2016). An overview of recent changes in cocaine trafficking routes into Europe. Background paper commissioned by EMCDDA for 2016 EU Drugs Markets Report.

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  • LAMM26 Darknet Crypto-Drug Markets: Challenges and Opportunities

    Although still relatively limited in scale, darknet crypto-drug markets (CDMs) are becoming increasingly significant in terms of both the changing shape of traditional illicit drug markets in a growing number of states and the concomitant challenges they pose to law enforcement authorities. At the same time, emerging research suggests that CDMs also possess several harm reduction characteristics. Drawing on a range of disciplinary approaches, this module will explore the emergence and proliferation of CDMs, how they intersect with extant illicit drug markets and the successes, or otherwise, or law enforcement interventions designed to counter them. Attention will also be given to the internal dynamics of CDMs and their potential to reduce a range of drug and policy related harms, including those relating to health and human security, within the current prohibition dominated policy environment.

  • PO-3316 Shadow Wars: US Presidents and covert action from the Cold War to Obama

    The Obama Administration¿s used of drones and special operations has rekindled interest in the role of covert action in US Foreign policy. The module will provide students with an analysis of the place of covert action in US foreign policy. The module will explore the strong connection between US Presidents and covert action, discussing the institutions, organizations and individuals involved. The module will adopt a chronological approach discussing presidencies from the Cold War to Barack Obama. This structure will also provide an opportunity to explore themes (e.g. assassination, regime change) and areas (e.g. Central America, the Middle East) central to the conduct of US foreign policy.

  • PO-M25 Dissertation

    Individual research based, under the guidance of appointed supervisor.

  • PO-M59 Drug Policy and Human Rights

    In 2001 the General Assembly of the United Nations noted, "Countering the world drug problem¿must be carried out in full conformity with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and other provisions of international law, and in particular with full respect for¿all human rights and fundamental freedoms." This interdisciplinary module explores the ongoing tensions that exist at the intersection between drug control policies and human rights. It explores issue areas on both the supply and demand side of the ¿drug problem¿ including HIV prevention, discrimination, crop eradication, militarized drug ¿wars¿ and the death penalty.

  • PO-M67 The Policy Making Process

    This module introduces or reintroduces students to the policy-making process and the major strands of thinking and models for understanding the policy cycle over the last twenty years. It makes use of case studies and analytic perspectives in order to understand the complexities of managing policy and government at local, regional, national and supra-national levels within the context of changed and changing ideas about governance.


  • Access to medical opioids as a human right and the international drug control system.«br /»«br /»«br /»«br /»«br /»«br /»«br /»«br /»«br /»«br /»«br /» This remains appropriate (current)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Prof Roland Axtmann
  • Crypto-Drug Markets: A Unique Challenge to the Global Drug Prohibition Regime? (current)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Prof Alan Collins
  • Ethics and Genetic biobanks (current)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Prof Michael Mcnamee
  • 'Afghanistan''''s Wicked Problems. Counterinsurgency and Counternarcotics in Afghanistan 2002-2011.' (awarded 2017)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Dr Stephen Mcveigh