GDPO Quarterly News: July 2018 – October 2018

GDPO Quarterly News: July 2018 – October 2018

While keeping busy with a range of ‘low noise’ impact related activities, the Quarter was relatively quiet in terms of public facing work.  That said, September saw the results of a long-planned research expedition to India by Dave and TNI’s Tom Blickman come to fruition.  There they liaised closely with GDPO Technical Advisor Romesh Bhattacharji on a range of activities relating to the cannabis policy reform project, and specifically ongoing work  on the updated version of the 2014 TNI-GDPO publication, The Rise and Decline of Cannabis Prohibition.     In addition to meetings and interviews with parliamentarians in New Delhi, fieldwork included a return trip to the Himachal Pradesh to examine changes within the cannabis market since a first visit in 2014 (See QN below) and an excursion into the largely unstudied cannabis producing regions of Uttarakhand. Relating some initial impressions from this fieldwork to broader policy discussions, Tom was interviewed by the Delhi Post which subsequently published a story titled Seek drug reform within international law.

Cannabis India3

Cannabis in Uttarakhand

The Quarter proved to be productive regarding GDPO and GDPO related publications.  July saw the publication of a Situation Analysis by Jasmin Gamez (MA student at Central European University,  2017-18), The Environmental impacts of the legalization of cannabis in California.  Another product of the Observatory’s collaboration with the School of Public Policy at CEU, in August GDPO published a timely Working Paper by Shaun Shelly and Simon Howell (University of Pretoria and Research Director, African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum respectively)  titled South Africa’s National Drug Mater Plan: Influenced and Ignored  The following month, after over a year’s research and drafting, we were pleased to publish a Working Paper by young scholar and former University of Bradford  Rotary Peace Fellow, Kari Williams: Crime, Drugs and Power in Honduras: Searching for Better Measures of State Fragility.   Also in September Khalid published an article in Les, ‘Vers une coalition mondiale de commerce du cannabis?’ while the GDPO’s submission on drug policy metrics to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights was reference its significant report Implementation of the joint commitment to effectively addressing and countering the world drug problem with regard to human rights  September also saw the release of the Spanish edition of the GDPO, TNI, WOLA joint publication on Inter Se treaty modification El equilibrio entre la estabilidad y el cambio: La modificación inter se de los tratados de fiscalización de drogas de la ONU para facilitar la regulación del cannabis.  Towards  the end of the month, Axel’s co-edited collection, Collapse of the Collapse of the Global Order on Drugs: From UNGASS 2016 to Review 2019was published by Emerald while Christopher’s first monograph, based on his excellent PhD dissertation, White Drug Cultures and Regulation in London, 1916-1960 was published by Palgrave.


GDPO Quarterly News: April 2018 – July 2018

GDPO Quarterly News: April 2018 – July 2018

April saw Dave visit Vienna and present at the first ever International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) Civil Society Hearing, an event organised by the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs.  Wearing his Transnational Institute Associate Fellow’s hat and as one of ten selected NGO representatives, he presented on Balancing Treaty Stability and Change: Inter se modification and the UN drug control conventions.  

Dave was also briefly in London to meet with Jasmin Gamez, Mai Hla Aye and Anna Dzunic from Central European University’s School of Public Policy Applied Policy Programme.  The meeting was a final discussion of commissioned publications and videos from the GDPO-APP joint project, some of which are listed below.  April also saw Martin Horton-Eddison present his research on the Dark Net via video link to the 3rd Semana Psicoactiva in Bogota, Colombia.

Semena Pscicoactiva

In May, the GDPO was delighted to welcome to Swansea Alex Stevens, Professor in Criminal Justice in the University of Kent’s School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research and Observatory Technical Advisor.  Alex not only spoke to MA students on the Department of Political and Cultural Studies (PCS) Public Policy Module but also gave an excellent presentation on ‘Being Human and the “Moral Sidestep”: Explaining government inaction on drug related deaths in the UK’ at a GDPO organised seminar. We hope Alex will be able to get across to Swansea again next year.

Alex Stevens

In June we were thrilled to welcome as a Swansea University colleague Dr Rick Lines.  While a GDPO Senior Research Associate for some time, Rick was appointed as Associate Professor within Swansea’s Hillary Clinton School of Law.  We look forward to developing various exciting projects when Rick is based in Swansea from September.  Coincidently, in June both Rick and Dave were invited participants at an OHCHR expert consultation meeting in Geneva.  This focused on the Implementation of Joint Commitments of UNGASS 2016 in addressing and countering the World Drug Problem about human rights.   Back in Swansea, June also saw Martin Horton-Eddison give a presentation on Participant Observation at a PGR Methods Workshop.  Here he spoke about his experiences at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in March.       

The quarter was relatively busy in terms of publications.  These included  - as part of the Africa project  - Cannabis and the Drug Law in Tunisia: A Reform Rooted in Social Justice Claims(GDPO Situation Analysis) by Khalid and Ghana Strives for a More Humane Drug Policy (GDPO Situation Analysis) by Maria-Goretti Ane.  Contributing to ongoing work on crypto-drug markets, Alois Afilipoaie  and Patrick Shortis authored another Situation Analysis, Crypto-Market Enforcement - New Strategy and Tactics while Mai Hla Aye wrote on Gender and Drugs in Myanmar(GDPO Situation Analysis)The result of many months hard work by GDPO research associate Constanza Sanchez and Michael Collins (Drug Policy Alliance), GDPO was pleased to publish in June a Policy Brief Better to Ask Forgiveness than Permission: Spain’s Subnational Approach to Drug Policy.  It is the expectation that a Spanish language version will be available later in the year.  A result of the GDPO-APP project, we were also pleased to post a number of videosexamining various aspects of drug policy: Niamh Eastwood (Release), ‘A Quite Revolution: Drug Decriminalization Across the Globe’; Marie Nougier (IDPC), ‘Measuring the “World the “World Drug Problem”: ARQ Revision, beyond traditional indicators’; Julia Buxton (CEU & GDPO), ‘Dealing with Synthetics: Time to reframe the narrative’.  Finally Dave published a short piece in Addiction, ‘Canada, Cannabis Legalization and Uncertainty around the United Nations Drug Control Conventions.’


GDPO Quarterly News: January 2018 – April 2018

GDPO Quarterly News: January 2018 – April 2018 

The new year started on a happy note with the graduation to Doctor of Philosophy in Politics of GDPO PhD student Joe Dixon.  We look forward to the publication of Joe’s research on ‘Afghanistan’s Wicked problems: COIN & CN in Afghanistan 2002-11’.

Joe Dixon PhD

Continuing with the doctoral theme, January also saw Dave serve as a member of a PhD external examinations committee at the University of Kent.  The thesis, ‘Regulating Cannabis Market: The Construction of an Innovative Drug Policy in Uruguay’ by Clara Musto, was submitted to the University of Kent and the University of Utrecht in partial fulfilment of requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy after following the Erasmus Mundus Doctoral Programme in Cultural and Global Criminology. The second part of the examination process is due to take place later in the year in Utrecht. We wish Clara all the best for that viva and in her post-doctoral career. Still on the issue of cannabis, but from a slightly different perspective, Axel presented a paper on medical cannabis cultivation in the UK at the Northern Irish Medical Cannabis Summit.  The following month Dave was in New York at the International Peace Institute (IPI) for a panel presentation around the launch of a new report Aligning Agendas: Drugs Sustainable Development, and the Drive for Policy Coherence. Published by IPI, the report was the result of over a year’s work by the Institute convened International Expert Group on Drug Policy Metrics of which he is a member.  February also saw Khalid participate in several events, including the 3rd Brandenburg Forum on drug and development policies, Lubennau, and the Santa Marta Dialogue on the present and future of global drug policies, Santa Marta.

Dave Bewley-Taylor

In March the GDPO was once again busy in Vienna at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.  Among other things, this involved co-sponsorship of a side-event on drug policy metrics and the European launch of Aligning Agendas as well as an event titled ‘Regulating Cannabis in Accord with International Law’.  Co-sponsored by GDPO, the Transnational Institute and the Washington Office on Latin America, this marked the launch of a major new publication, Balancing Treaty Stability and Change: Inter se modification of the UN drug control conventions to facilitate cannabis regulation, a Report coming out of the TNI-GDPO-WOLA Expert Seminar in Amsterdam in October 2017.   Moderated by John Walsh (WOLA), the well-attended session involved a panel comprising Dave, Martin Jelsma, Annette Henry (Cannabis Licencing Authority, Jamaica) and Allyn Taylor (University of Washington School of Law). Prof. Taylor’s remarks can be found here.

Balancing Treaty Sid Event

In addition to Balancing Treaty Stability and Change the quarter saw several other GDPO related publications.  These included Dave Bewley-Taylor & Marie Nougier Measuring the ‘world drug problem’: ARQ Revision. Beyond traditional indicators? (GDPO Working Paper) Dave Bewley-Taylor and Malgosia Fitzmaurice, The Modernization of Treaty Regimes: The Contrasting Cases of International Drug Control and Environmental Regulation(GDPO Working Paper)andDave Bewley-Taylor, Tom Blickman, Martin Jelsma and John Walsh, ‘Canada’s Next Steps on Cannabis and the UN Drug Treaties’, in iPolitics. Khalid also published a Commentary in the Journal of the International Aids Society, ‘HIV and AIDS among adolescents who use drugs’  with Axel co-authoring with Gary Potter, ‘The three betrayals of the medical cannabis growing activist’ in the International Journal of Drug Policy. In terms of newspapers, Khalid had an article, ‘Cannabis : importer le modèle californien dans nos quartiers,’ published in Les Echos


GDPO Quarterly News: October 2017 -January 2018

October saw Dave participate once again as visiting faculty to the Human Rights and Drug Policy in East and South East Asia workshop run by the Centre for Criminology at the University of Hong Kong.  Later that month he presented joint research with Professor Malgosia Fitzmaurice into treaty reform at a GDPO co-organised event – with the Transnational Institute and the Washington Office on Latin America) - in Amsterdam.  The expert seminar, ‘Cannabis Regulation and the UN Drug Control Treaties’ brought together a group of international lawyers and drug policy analyst to explore various aspects of this increasingly pressing issue.  The GDPO’s ongoing research into drug policy metrics also resulted in Dave being invited to present at a briefing on human rights and drug policy at the Palais des Nations, Geneva.  Moderated by Executive Secretary of the Global Commission on Drug Policy and Swansea University Honorary Research Associate, Dr. Khalid Tinasti, the event was hosted by the Missions of Albania, Brazil, Colombia, Greece, Guatemala, Portugal, Switzerland and Uruguay, together with Penal Reform International, Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales and the Quaker UN Office and Humanas.  

In October Khalid was also engaged in a number of events including presenting evidence to the Information Mission of the Committee of Laws of the French National Assembly on the use of monetary fines to punish drug use (Paris), lecturing at the Executive Course, ‘Drug Policy, Diplomacy and Global Public Health’, (the Graduate Institute, Geneva) and presenting on ‘International Drug Policy: What Challenges?’ at an event hosted by the Swiss-UN Association (Bern). In November Dave visited Central European University for the initial meeting of the GDPO’s collaboration with students from the Applied Policy Project. Meanwhile, back in Swansea Martin Horton-Eddison presented a paper based on his PhD research, ‘The enforcement – innovation paradox: Site takedown strategies and 2nd generation crypto-drug markets,’ at one of the weekly Department of Political and Cultural Studies seminars.  Building upon Martin’s work and other collaborative research into CDMs, this was followed a few weeks later by a visit to Swansea by members of the Home Office Strategic Centre for Organised Crime.  The CHERISH-DE funded ‘away day’ provided a productive opportunity for GDPO to share research findings and discuss future avenues of enquiry, particularly the use of Corpus Assisted Discourse Studies. 

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Dr. Matteo Di Cristofaro speaks about the application of Corpus Assisted Discourse Studies for research into crypto-drug markets at GDPO - CHERISH-DE 'away day' for Home Office officials from the Strategic Centre for Organised Crime

In terms of GDPO related publications, in November we were thrilled to see Observatory Research Associate Constanza Sanchez publish a version of her PhD dissertation, Drug Control: International Norms, National Challenges.  The case of drug policy in Spain.  Later that month Khalid published ‘Fentanyl et autres drogues synthétiques : Un défi émergent auquel il faut faire face’ in Lemonde. Along with John Walsh (WOLA), Martin Jelsma (TNI and GDPO Senior Research Associate) and Tom Blickman (TNI), in December Dave published a short article in the Canadian online magazine iPolitics, ‘Yes, legalizing marijuana breaks treaties.  We can deal with that.’ Also in December, Khalid was co-author of an academic article, ‘Addressing deprivation of liberty, human mobility and tuberculosis in 2018,’ in Public Health Action

GDPO Quarterly News: July 2017 - October 2017

GDPO Quarterly News: July 2017 – October 2017

The beginning of 2017’s third quarter saw the GDPO welcome Allan Gillies, GDPO Research Associate, to Swansea University. In an event co-hosted by GDPO and the Department of Political Studies’ International Studies, Conflict and Security (ISCAS) research group, he presented a research paper drawing on his PhD thesis titled ‘Theorising State-Narco Relations in the Global South: Governance, Order and Bolivia’s Political Transition (1982-1993)’.  Allan’s visit was hot on the heels of Dave’s brief visit to Africa.  This was part of the development of the ‘Barriers to Access’ project and involved interviews with medical professionals directly engaged with palliative care as well as officials within the Botswanan police service and the Ministry of Health and Wellness.  The following month, Axel attended the 'Making sense of Poly drug use' workshop organised by the Finnish National Institute for health and welfare, where he gave a paper called ‘Poly is a joker - the political construction of mono drug use as anti-norm’.  Please contact Alex directly if you want him to explain the title.  August also saw Martin Horton-Eddison filming the Crypto-Drug Markets expert session for a forthcoming Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on drug policy, hosted by the Graduate Institute in Geneva

 400 x 300Allan Gillies presents his research

September saw Axel busy once again, this time giving a series of papers.  At the Drugscience Conference in Berlin he gave a paper titled ‘Global phenomenon, national policy – costs and benefits of the international drug control system’.  This was quickly followed by a presentation on ‘Regulated cannabis markets: A precondition for healthy cities’ at the City Health Conference in Basel.  Axel’s frenetic month then came to a close with his paper on ‘Researching cannabis cultivation in the UK’ in Birmingham at the United Patients Alliance.  September also saw Christopher present a paper on the UN conventions and ketamine at the World Congress for freedom of scientific research, Right to Science and Freedom of Research on Narcotic and Psychotropic Substances held in Turin. Meanwhile, in Budapest Julia and colleagues at the School of Public Policy ran a hugely successful three-day workshop on the Gendered Impacts of Drug Policy.  The workshop covered a wide range of topics with contributions from 30 international experts from around the world.  The workshop programme can be found here with a must watch video on the event also available online.  Later in the month in relatively nearby Vienna, IDPC hosted, with the government of Mexico, a well-attended launch event in the margins of the intersessional meeting of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs for the co-produced report (IDPC, WOLA and GDPO), Edging Forward: How the UN’s Language on Drugs has Advanced since 1990.  Back in Swansea, Martin chaired a panel, and also presented on ‘Crypto-Drug Markets 2.0: What closing Alphabay & HansaMarket might mean for the evolution of darknet drug markets’ at the Cyber Network Conference (CNC17)

 400 x 225Martin discusses Crypto-Drug Markets 2.0

September was also noteworthy in that Julia was made a Regional Head on Latin America at Oxford Analytica and, crucially for the ongoing development of the GDPO, the team had the pleasure of welcoming Dr. Rick Lines as a Senior Research Associate.  We look forward to working with Rick and drawing particularly on his expertise in human rights, international law and harm reduction in future projects.  Similarly, the team was also pleased to welcome Dr Renaud Colson as a Research Associate.  An Associate Professor at the Law & Political Science Faculty of the University of Nantes, Renaud strengthens the Observatory’s expertise on European drug policy.

In addition to the aforementioned Edging Forward report, co-authored by Jamie Bridge (IDPC), Christopher Hallam (IDPC & GDPO), Marie Nougier (IDPC), Miguel Herrero Cangas (IDPC), Martin Jelsma (TNI), Tom Blickman (TNI), & Dave Bewley-Taylor (GDPO), in September the Observatory published a substantive Policy Report, Dealing with Synthetics: Time to Reframe the Narrative. Joint authored by Julia, Dave and Christopher, the Report critiques the history of and current challenges facing the UN’s efforts to control synthetic drugs. Other GDPO publications in the quarter included a Policy Brief from the crypto-drug markets project, Hard Interventions and Innovation in Crypto-Drug Markets: The escrow example, written by Martin Horton-Eddison and our colleague from the College of Law and criminology, Matteo Di Cristofaro.  Also in July, Khalid authored a new View from the Ground blog for the Africa project; Harm reduction, drug policy and the law in the Maghreb: focus on Tunisia and MauritaniaIn terms of academic publications, September saw Allan publish an article, 'Theorising State-Narco Relations in Bolivia's Nascent Democracy (1982-1993): Governance, Order and Political Transition', in Third World Quarterly




GDPO Quarterly News: April 2017 – July 2017

GDPO Quarterly News: April 2017 – July 2017

The second quarter of 2017 was once again a busy period for the GDPO team, particularly in terms of conference attendance and research presentations. April saw Julia attend the Society for Latin American Studies conference where she moderated a panel on drug economies in South America.   Among the presentations was one by Alan Gillies, University of Glasgow and recently appointed GDPO Research Associate, on rent seeking (cocaine revenues) and political transition in Bolivia.  The panel also included Lucia Pol (CELS Argentina), who presented on the human rights dimensions of drug policy enforcement with reference to Argentina.  During the quarter Julia also became a member of the board of YODA (Youth Organisations for Drug Action), a network of youth and student based organisations first established in 2011 to enhance the voice of young people in drug policy deliberations. 

April also saw Dave, Martin and Nuria Lorenzo-Dus, Professor of English Language and Applied Linguistics and Swansea University’s Language Research Centre, travel to London to present at a roundtable co-organised by GDPO, IDPC and the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).  Generously hosted by IISS, the Roundtable on Cyber-Trust in Crypto-Drug Markets: Implications for Policy and Policing was an opportunity to share and discuss research funded at Swansea University by CHERISH-DE.  Chaired by Virginia Comolli, IISS Senior Fellow in Security and Development, the Chatham House rules session, which included presentations on Dealing with Crypto-Drug Markets, Trust and Self-Regulation and How Policing Impels Innovation: The Escrow Example, generated interesting debate and ideas for future work. For an overview of the roundtable see IDPC’s Juan Fernandez Ochoa’s blog here. (QN continued below pictures) IISS Trust Event

IISS Event. (C/W from TL, Dave, Nuria, Martin)

In May Axel, Allan and Christopher all attended the tenth annual conference of the International Society for the Study of Drug Policy, hosted by the Centre for Alcohol and Drugs Research at Aarhus University, Denmark.  Here Axel gave a talk about his research on domestic cannabis cultivation in the UK, entitled ‘The three betrayals of the medical cannabis grower: from multiple victimhood to reconstruction, redemption and agency’.  Christopher presented a working draft of a co-authored (with Jamie Bridge, IDPC, Marie Nougier, IDPC, Martin Jelsma, TNI, and Dave) soon to be co-published (IDPC, TNI and GDPO) titled ‘Edging forward: How the UN's language on drugs has advanced since 1990.’ And drawing on his PhD research, Allan gave a paper on ‘The Evolution of State-Narco Networks in Post-Transition Bolivia (1982-1993): Governance, political order and processes of transition’. Later in the month, and on a different continent, linking with some of his GDPO research, Khalid presented on ‘Drug Policy and the Law in Arab Countries’ at the twenty-fifth International Harm Reduction Conference in Montreal.

In June, Allan was also busy back at the University of Glasgow.  Here he was involved with the organisation of a workshop hosted by the School of Social and Political Sciences and Christian Aid ‘Illicit Economies and Development: Enhancing Cross-Disciplinary Exchange’.  The aim of the day was to develop the main themes and objectives of Christian Aid’s international ‘Colloquium on Survival and Development Transformation in Drugs and Illicit Economies’ to be held later in the year.  Participants from academia, policy and the development sector came together to reflect on the state of knowledge in the field and policy challenges, as well as novel areas of research, ways of engaging different policy communities and distinct approaches to the study of illicit economies.  The day included a keynote address from Professor Alfred McCoy (University of Wisconsin), two lively roundtable discussions, and presentations from Jonathan Goodhand and Patrick Meehan (SOAS), Frances Thomson (University of Sussex), Eric Gutierrez (Christian Aid), Corinna Woellner (GIZ) and Dimitris Skleparis (University of Glasgow).  Both Allan and Axel also gave papers, with Axel presenting on ‘Development cooperation in the fight against Organised Crime - a review of the European experience.’  Anyone interested in the outputs of the workshop should contact Allan directly.  June also saw Julia present on a panel at the board meeting of the OSF Public Health Policy Program, where she provided an overview of graduate level drug policy teaching, with a focus on research skills and methods necessary to capture the views and experience of marginalised and stigmatised members of the drug user community.   Meanwhile, Christopher attended the Alcohol and Drug History Society Conference at Utrecht University, where, using material from his doctoral studies, he presented a paper titled, ‘The Quiet Times? Drug cultures and regulation in Interwar London.’

The quarter also saw the GDPO productive across a range of publications.  In terms of peer reviewed pieces, both Khalid and Dave published (or joint published) in Drugs and Alcohol Today, which Axel edits.  Their articles in the Special ‘After UNGASS’ issue were ‘The influence of global players on the drug control system: an analysis of the role of the Russian Federation’ and ‘Refocusing metrics: can the sustainable development goals help break the “metrics trap” and modernize international drug control policy?’ Khalid and Dave also published, with Ann Fordham (Executive Director, IDPC) a short piece in Drug Science, Policy and Law, ‘WHO and UNDP change in leadership: what views on drug policy and harm reduction?’  Regarding media engagement, Khalid published two opinion pieces in Moroccan newspapers, ‘Prison overcrowding and drug policy’ and ‘Regulation of Cannabis’.  On a related issue, he also signed a manifesto of humanities and social scientists of Morocco on the situation in the Rif region.  Continuing with his interest in Colombia, Ross published an article with Aljazeera, Why is coca production on the rise in Colombia?, while Dave, building upon work from the IISS Roundtable on Crypt-Drug Markets in April, published a piece in Jane’s Intelligence Review (June 2017, Vol. 29. Issue 6).  Similarly, in June Martin authored and co-authored, with Matteo Di Cristofaro of Swansea University’s LRC,  two GDPO Situation Analyses, Updating Escrow: Demystifying the CDM multisig process and Corpus Linguistics Methodology on the Silk Road(s); The Escrow Example In addition to the IISS blog mentioned above, GDPO also published a several others, including Nazlee Maghsoudi’s (ICSDP) Preparing for 2019: Drug Policy Objectives Indicators, System-wide coherence and the Sustainable Development Agenda and Chris’ British System, American Century: A short case study

GDPO Quarterly News: January 2017 - April 2017

January saw Dave make a second visit to Gaborone, Botswana, to develop a project on access to controlled medicines and palliative care initiated during his first trip to the country almost exactly a year earlier.  During this scoping trip, he liaised with faculty from the University of Botswana who will be partners on the ‘Barriers to Access’ project.  Dave also met with the Assistant Minister for Health and Wellness to help ensure that the work package produces policy relevant research.  After a brief stop-over in the UK, Dave then headed to New York where he attended an expert meeting on drug policy metrics.  Organised and hosted by the International Peace Institute (IPI) and the Conflict and Prevention Peace Forum of the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), the two-day event brought together drug policy experts with an interest in metrics and indicators from Europe and North and South America.   It is the expectation that the IPI-SSRC project will produce a policy report that will be presented to officials in various parts of the UN system. Indeed, a second meeting of the group was held at the IPI Vienna office in the margins of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in March.

Early in 2017 the GDPO was also pleased to learn of the success of Dr Allan Gilles’ application to the ESRC Global Challenges Research Fund, a bid with which it was involved as a partner for knowledge-exchange.  Having received his doctorate at the University of Glasgow in late 2016, with Julia acting as external examiner, Allan took up his post of ESRC-GCF Postdoctoral Fellow in January to work on his project, ‘Illicit Drug Economies, Governance and the Security-Development Nexus in the Global South: a case Study of State-Narco Networks in Post Transition Bolivia’. We look forward to collaborating with Allan over the course of his Fellowship.

In February Khalid was an invited participant at the 2nd Brandenburg Forum on Drugs and Development, in Lübbenau, Germany.  This was organised within the Framework of the Global Partnership on Drug Policies and development (GPDPD) – a programme aiming to enhance evidence based development and public-health oriented approaches to drug policy.  Meanwhile, back at Swansea University, as part of his ongoing work on metrics Dave presented a paper, ‘Measuring Morality: Drug Policy and the ‘Metrics Trap’, as part of the University’s Research Institute for Ethics and Law (RIEL) seminar series.

275 x 275 RIEL seminar series 

As is usually the case, with the CND taking place mid-month, March was a particularly busy period for the GDPO.  In addition to Dave’s ongoing research into regime change, this year involving participant observation as a member of the Swiss delegation, the Observatory was involved in the organisation and delivery of two side-events.  The first, organised by GDPO, Transform, WOLA, the Canadian HIV-AIDS Legal Network and TNI was titled ‘Cannabis and the Conventions: Aftermath of UNGASS’.  Moderated by WOLA’s John Walsh, the well-attended and lively session included presentations from Dave, Alison Holcombe (Chief Executive officer, Action Now Initiative), Lisa Sanchez (Project Manager Mexico Unido Contra la Delincuencia/Transform) and Tom Blickman (TNI).  Dave was also a panellist for ‘Preparing for 2019: Drug Policy Objectives and Indicators, System-Wide Coherence and the Sustainable Development Agenda’. Although scheduled for the last day of the Commission’s session, this side-event, which was organised by CELS, ICSDP, SSRC, IDPC, Health Poverty Action, GDPO and co-sponsored by the Government of Switzerland, was also well-attended.  Moderated by Renata Segura (SSRC), the other speakers were Christian Schneider (Federal Office of Police, Bern), Natasha Horsfield (Health Poverty Action) and Luciana Pols (CELS).

275 x 206CND 2017 – Cannabis side-event; A panellist’s perspective

March was also noteworthy in that one of the GDPO - Politics and International Relations PhD candidates, Joe Dixon, passed his viva.  Examined by Dr Alexander Marshall of the University of Glasgow and Dr Krijn Peters from Swansea University, Joe’s thesis, ‘Afghanistan’s Wicked Problems: Counterinsurgency and Counternarcotic, 2002-2011’, required only minor revisions.  We wish him all the best regarding the publication of his research and in his search for an academic post in the US where he now lives. Currently midway through his doctoral studies, March also saw Martin defending his thesis, which focuses on crypto-drug markets and the international drug control system.  This time, however, it was in front of faculty and fellow PhD students as part of the Department of Political and Cultural Studies seminar series.

The first quarter of 2017 saw Julia continue her supervision of a CEU-School of Social Policy Student Applied Policy Project, an eight-month piece of work conducted by a student team in collaboration with an external client, the London based Health Poverty Action.  Julia’s team are assessing the impact of restrictions on drug accessibility for health and development with a focus on ketamine and opioid analgesics. In March, having been preceded by interviews with key international specialists, including Dave, the students undertook field work in India, where they interviewed medics and patients on drug accessibility.

In terms of publications and media engagement, January saw the release of a European Parliament report, A review and assessment of EU drug policy, to which Axel contributed. Early 2017 also saw the publication of an article on access to controlled medicines in the Canadian Journal of Anesthesia , to which Chris and Dave contributed as co-authors.  In February Khalid published an excellent piece, ‘Drug Control Policy Fuels Social Unrest in Northern Morocco,’ in World Policy Blog,  which was also cross posted on the GDPO’s own blog and Julia contributed a chapter to the CELS annual report that examines the nexus between human rights and drug policy in Latin America. And in March Ross gave an interview on the rise of cocaine production in Colombia to the Danish Radio station, Radio24syv  Finally, having been moved from the Swansea University library store to London in late 2016, the GDPO was also pleased to see the Wellcome Library add to its catalogue in January the DrugScope library.  ‘Rescued’ by GDPO from almost certain destruction in 2013, the unique and wide-ranging collection is currently being processed by the acquisitions team, but can be accessed on a case by case basis upon request to Wellcome.

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As many readers will know, at the end of March, the Hungarian government introduced legislation directly targeting the Central European University by requiring the American university to have a home campus in its country of accreditation (the US), and imposing conditions on the hiring of faculty. In parallel new legislation was being debated that will tighten regulations on NGOs.  On behalf of the School of Public Policy and CEU, Julia extends her thanks to all colleagues within the drug policy NGO and academic community that have been pro-active in their support for academic freedom and defence of CEU including TNI, HRI, Release, IDPC, ICHRDP and GDPO. 

GDPO Quarterly News: October 2016 - January 2017

GDPO Quarterly News: October 2016 – January 2017

In October, the GDPO welcomed two new members to the team; Dr Khalid Tinasti and Dr Christopher Hallam.  Currently based in Geneva where he is the Executive Secretary of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, Khalid joins the Observatory as a Swansea University Honorary Research Associate. Having recently been awarded his doctorate from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine under the supervision of Professor Virginia Berridge, Christopher joins the team as a Research Associate.  We look forward to their involvement in developing and strengthening a range of work streams relating to their areas of expertise, including public health and UN drug control policy.   

October also saw Dave once again spend time at Hong Kong University as visiting faculty on the highly successful Human Rights and Drug Policy in East Asia Workshop.   Hosted by the Centre for Criminology, the workshop involved participants with diverse backgrounds (civil servants, government officials, journalists and NGO representatives) from a range of countries within the region (Myanmar, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Nepal, Sri Lanka, China, and Hong Kong) interacting with faculty from HKU and other institutions, including Tom Kramer from GDPOs partner institution, the Transnational Institute.

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HKU - Human Rights and Drug Policy in East Asia Workshop



Shortly after his time in Hong Kong, Dave travelled to Ottawa as part of an NGO delegation that met with Canadian government officials to discuss the forthcoming legalisation of cannabis for recreational purposes. The trip also included a public event at the University of Ottawa, kindly hosted by the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition and the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network.  Titled Regulating Cannabis: Canada in the Global Context, Dave participated as part of a panel including Damon Barrett (International Centre on Human Rights and Drug Policy), Tom Blickman, Transnational Institute), Kathy-Ann Brown (Deputy Solicitor General and Director of International Affairs, Jamaica), Lisa Sanchez, (Mexico United Against Crime & Transform Drug Policy Foundation) and John Walsh (Washington Office on Latin America)  

Meanwhile, Axel was an invited speaker at a CEDLA (Centre for Latin American Research and Documentation) seminar at the University of Amsterdam.  With the event focusing on Drugs and Violence in the Caribbean, he presented a paper titled ‘Ganja as a Development Challenge’. Back in Swansea Dave contributed to the Department of Political and Cultural Studies Public Policy MA  where he lectured on international drug policy and the policy cycle.  Dave’s work on international drug policy also saw him shortlisted for a prestigious University impact award within the Research with Outstanding Global Reach category.  Congratulations go to the eventual winners from Swansea University Medical School.


 300 x 225232 x 223




Swansea University Impact Awards

During the quarter the GDPO continued in its publication activities. Building upon his research time in Colombia, in October Ross published an article, ‘War and Democracy in Colombia’ in NACLA Report on the Americas.  In the same month, the French language magazine produced by the Swiss NGO GREA (Groupement Romand D’Etudes des Addictions), Dépendances, published a version of the GDPO working paper, Can Sustainable Development Goals Help to Improve International Drug Control?. Titled Politique drogues internationale, the October 2016 edition of the magazine also included a French language version of Dave’s co-authored brief with Martin Jelsma on the UNGASS, ‘UNGASS 2016: consensus large ou brisé ?’  In terms of GDPO publications, the quarter also saw Axel produce a Situation Analysis, Ganja in the English-Speaking Caribbean: Security Threat to Development Opportunity, with long-standing friend of the Observatory, Benoît Gomis author a timely Analysis titled US Drug Policy: Clinton vs. Trump. Khalid also produced a View from the Ground blog on one of his areas of continuing research interest, ‘Harm reduction, drug policy and the law in the Magreb; focus on Morocco and Algeria’  





GDPO Quarterly News: July 2016 - October 2016

In July the GDPO team were delighted to learn that, having put in a solid performance in the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition earlier in the year, Martin had won a prize in the University’s Research as Art competition with his entry, ‘Virtual Drug Deal in Server Alley’. With academic events picking up again after some downtime in August, during which GDPO research informed a piece in the Manila Times, September saw Axel participate in a roundtable, ‘New Drugs and the “bigger picture”’ as part of the New Drugs mini-conference at the University of Kent. A few days later, Julia led on the provision of a four-day professional development course at CEU, ‘Drug Policy Reform After UNGASS: Prospects, Proposals Constraints’. Representing another highly successful offering from CEU, teaching faculty comprised Julia, Judith Aldridge (University of Manchester), Joanne Csete (Adjunct Associate Professor, Columbia University, Niamh Eastwood (Executive Director, Release) and Luciana Pol (Senior Fellow, Centre for Legal and Social Studies) and included participants from 20 countries and a wide-range of backgrounds.

400 x 288Martin’s ‘Virtual Drug Deal in Server Alley’

The quarter also saw a number of GDPO and Observatory related publications.  As part of his ongoing work on drug policy in Colombia, in September Ross published the Situation Analysis Colombia: Drugs and The Peace Agreement. In the same month, Dave co-authored, with Christian Schneider, a working paper based upon the GDPO’s research into metrics; Can the Sustainable Development Goals Help to Improve International Drug Control?  This second of the Observatory’s Working Paper series drew on a German language article in the Swiss magazine SuchtMagazinThe same edition of the magazine also published a translation of the TNI-GDPO’s UNGASS 2016: A Broken or B-r-o-a-d Consensus? UN summit cannot hide growing divergence in the global drug policy landscape

GDPO Quarterly News: April 2016 - July 2016

During this busy quarter, much time and energy was devoted to preparation for and work streams resulting from the United National General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem.  This was held in New York, April 18th - 21st.  GDPO was active in the margins of the summit itself, co-organizing, presenting and disseminating research at two side events. The first of these was  ‘Getting Better Results: Aligning Drug Policy Objectives Within the Wider UN System’.  Relating to the Observatory’s ongoing work on drug policy metrics and indicators it was co-hosted by ICSDP, IDPC, TDPF and the governments of New Zealand, Canada, Switzerland and Mexico. Moderated by Hon, Peter Dunne, Associate Minister of Health, New Zealand, the event included a range of excellent presentations and, in the main, constructive discussion and saw the launch of the GDPO’s policy brief, Towards Metrics that Measure Outcomes that Matter

340 x 102‌‘Getting better Results’ side event, UNGASS, April 18th

A few days later, GDPO was also involved with another highly successful and, in UN terms, unusually lively event, ‘Cannabis and the Conventions: The UNGASS and Beyond.’  Sponsored by the government of Uruguay (Junta Nacional de Drogas), WOLA, TNI and GDPO the event saw the launch of Cannabis Regulation and the UN Drug Treaties: Strategies for Reform,.  This briefing paper was produced by a range of organisations – including GDPO -  and co-authored by Martin Jelsma (TNI), John Walsh (WOLA), Steve Rolles (TDPF) and Dave. Expertly moderated by John Walsh, speakers included Dave, presenting on the history of cannabis within the international system, Kathy-Ann Brown (Deputy Solicitor general of Jamaica), Augusto Vitale (President, Institute for the Regulation and Control of Cannabis, Uruguay) and Martin Jelsma. ‌ ‌

160 x 90'Cannabis and the Conventions’ side event, 20th April.  (Big issue, small room)

With the dust having settled after UNGASS, and Dave just about surviving Hostile Environment Training with a number of his colleagues from a range of OSF funded organisations, the rest of the quarter saw GDPO continue with its research and publication programme.  In May Open Democracy published Dave’s assessment of the discussion of metrics at the UNGASS, Missed Opportunity or a Foundation for Future of Drug Reform? Measuring Success at UNGASS 2016  Moreover, in addition to an updated version of Cannabis Regulation and the UN Treaties (also available in Spanish and French), which gained some attention in the South Wales Evening Post,  GPDO joint published a reflective piece on the UNGASS with TNI;  UNGASS 2016: A Broken or B-r-o-a-d Consensus? UN summit cannot hide growing divergence in the global drug policy landscape  Building upon his ongoing work on drug policy in Colombia, in June Ross published a Situation Analysis, Reforms in Reverse: Colombia goes back to Glyphosate. And drawing on her PhD research and a conference presentation at UCL’s ‘Mexico Summit 2016: Lessons from the Global Drug Policy – Moving on from the 2016 UNGASS in June, Emily produced a blog on President Reagan’s militarization of the ‘War on Drugs’.

Other activities included a presentation on the Observatory’s work at the internal launch of SwanseaUniversity’s Research Institute for Ethics and Law (RIEL), on whose board Dave is the representative for the College of Arts and Humanities and the beginning of work into the Concept of Trust Within Dark Net Crypto-Drug-Markets (CDMs).  Based on the GDPO’s previous work on the Dark Net and funded by the University’s CHERISH-DE scheme, the project is a pan-University initiative that includes other members of faculty, principally Prof. Nuria Lorenzo-Duz (PI - Linguistics). The project also will involve Martin Horton-Eddisson, whose PhD research focuses on CDMs.

May saw Dr. Axel Klein join the GDPO as a Senior Research Associate and we look forward to his involvement in developing and strengthening a range of Observatory work packages, especially those relating to Africa and the Caribbean.  Both are areas where, among others, Axel has many years of experience and an impressive publication record.      

GDPO Quarterly News: January 2016 - April 2016

Early in the New Year, Dave travelled to East Africa where, during a multi-country trip (including Botswana, Zambia and Tanzania) linking to one of the GDPO’s key project areas, he developed contacts for further research into various aspects of the drug market within the sub-region.  Among these were access to controlled medicine for palliative care and ‘over-spill’ of opiates from the so-called ‘Southern Route’ from Afghanistan to Western markets.  While in Gaborone, Botswana, he gave a presentation titled ‘Illicit Drugs Markets and Policy Responses in Sub-Saharan Africa: An interdisciplinary Approach’, kindly hosted by Livingstone Kolobeng College, to an audience of government officials (including from the Ministry of Public Health) and members of the Botswana army and police force.  While in Tanzania Dave was also interviewed on Radio Christian Voice and spoke about drug policy research and relevance to the country and the region more broadly.  Listen here.   

350 x 263‌Presentation to government officials at LKC, Gaborone, Botswana

In March Dave was honoured to speak at a event held at Tallinn University. Organised by the Estonian ministry of Justice and opened by Urmas Reinsau, the Minister of justice, Drugs Crime and Punishment – Where to draw the line? was aimed at law enforcement authorities as well as practitioners from the field of healthcare and social care, politicians, researchers and the representatives of civil society. With other speakers including Prof. Sir John Strang (King’s College London) and Brendan Hughes (EMCDDA) presenting on a wide range of issues, Dave’s presentation focused on the history and future of the international drug control system  

300 x 158Part of a cartoon storyboard drawn simultaneously during the ‘Drugs crime and punishment conference, Tallinn, March, 2016.

Later in the month, as with many of those active in the international drug policy world, the Observatory’s attention turned to Vienna and the annual meeting of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.  Continuing its work on drug policy metrics and indicators, GDPO was involved in organising a CND side event on the issue: Improving system-wide coherence by reprioritizing metrics to evaluate illicit drug policy. Co-hosted with ICDP, IDPC, TDPF and the Governments of Mexico, Brazil and Switzerland, the event covered a range of related topics, including the European launch of the ICSDP open letter on the reprioritization of metrics. Dave presented some of the concepts from the GDPO Working Paper, GDPO Working Paper 1.0: January 2016 , that was published January.

350 x 101‌CND 2016 side event on metrics (L-R, Ann Fordham, IDPC, Dave Bewley-Taylor, GDPO, Christian Schneider, Swiss Federal Office of Police Luiz Guilherme de Paiva, Executive Director, SENAD, Government of Brazil) 

In addition to the Working Paper, GDPO continued during the quarter to publish a number of substantive research reports focusing on issues beyond the immediate UN sphere.  Key among these was Above the Law, Under the Radar: A History of Private Contractors and Aerial Fumigation in Colombia, in February. With Ross Eventon as lead author, this co-authored report with Dave represented the fruits of research over the previous 18 months, including fieldwork in Guaviare, Colombia, in May 2015.  In March, Ross also published a significant policy report taking a holistic view of drug policy in Afghanistan;  Through a Broken Glass, Darkly; Drug Policy and the War in Afghanistan. In terms of shorter publications, February saw an output from Ross’s ongoing work into drug markets within Argentina, the Situation Analysis Vulnerable Youth and Drug Trafficking in Rosario, Argentina

GDPO Quarterly News: October 2015 - January 2016

The beginning of October saw the Observatory welcome to the team Martin Horton-Eddison as a doctoral candidate and research assistant.  With a background in International Politics and Strategic Studies (MA, Hull & BSc, Econ, Aberystwyth), Martin’s College of Arts and Humanities funded PhD focuses on the transnational crypto-drug market phenomenon and the associated challenges for drug control policy, particularly at the international level. His work for the GDPO over the next three years will include co-ordinating the GDPO Postgraduate Network and managing the Observatory’s online activities.  Continuing with the theme of Higher Education, October saw Dave spend time at Hong KongUniversity as visiting faculty on the highly successful inaugural Human Rights and Drug Policy in East Asia Workshop.   Hosted by the Centre for Criminology, the workshop involved participants with diverse backgrounds (civil servants, government officials and NGO representatives) from a range of countries within the region (Mongolia, Afghanistan, China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand) interacting with faculty from HKU and other institutions.  Nearer to home, in November Dave visited the University of Dundee as External Examiner.  There he took part in the viva voce examination of Philip Berry’s (Department of Politics and International Relations) doctoral thesis, The US and the UK’s War on the Afghan Opium Industry: A Critical Evaluation of Anglo-American Counternarcotics Policies in Afghanistan 2001-2011.  We are pleased to say that Philip defended his work ably and we look forward to its publication as a monograph in the near future.     

In early December, Dave and Julia had the privilege of participating in an international workshop in Switzerland.  Organized by the Institute of Geography at the University of Neuchâtel this was titled ‘Toward a Global Shift in Drug Policy?’ It involved an evening public event, with Ruth Dreifuss (member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, former President of Switzerland and member of GDPO Advisory Board) as a keynote speaker, and a stimulating full day interdisciplinary workshop involving both faculty and an impressive array of doctoral students from around the world. With Dave presenting on ‘Contemporary Challenges to the International Drug Control Regime: Markets, Knowledge and Increasing Systemic Tensions’, Julia’s subject was ‘More Harm than Good: The Development Impacts of Counter Narcotic Policies’.  

Over the course of the quarter, the GDPO published a Situation Analysis by Anaïs Auvray.  Based on her MA dissertation in African Studies at the University of Edinburgh (2014-2015), The ‘War on Data’ in Africa, or how to provide and alternative discourse to the ‘War on Drugs’ within the international drug control system explores some the practical and conceptual problems associated with data collection within Africa. In December, GDPO research into cannabis policy was cited within the Spanish language magazine eVIDA.   

GDPO Quarterly News: July 2015 - October 2015

GDPO Quarterly News: July – October 2015 


Having already participated in a United Nations University event at the end of June, while in New York in early July Dave was also an invited participant at a related invitation only roundtable on ‘Measuring success in inter-agency organized crime programming, with a particular focus on fragile contexts’.  Involving a wide range of participants, including US and UK government officials, representatives from law enforcement, RUSI and Google, once again discussions informed and were informed by GDPO research into drug policy metrics.     

July also saw Dave visit the Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex as faculty on the International Centre on Human Rights and Drug Policy Summer School course (ICHRDP).  As part of a successful programme, his contribution focused on international relations, drug policy and human rights, a topic that linked with lectures from, among others, Dr Rick Lines (HRI & ICHRDP), Damon Barrett (ICHRDP) Prof. Joanne Csete (Columbia University, Mailman School for Public Health), Julie Hannah (Human Rights Centre & ICHRDP) and Prof. Julia Buxton.  

With generous support from Swansea University’s Impact Acceleration Account, the GDPO ran in September an exploratory ‘sandpit’ event to explore the concept of developing an inter-disciplinary multi-variate Drug Policy Index; a potential project relating directly to the GDPO’s ongoing interest in drug policy metrics.  Involving colleagues from across campus, including from health science, mathematics, computer science and ‘big data’, the workshop was useful in providing a space for discussing the idea from different disciplinary perspectives.  Follow-on activities include the development of a ‘proof of concept’ funding bid.   September also saw Dave’s paper, ‘Legitimacy and modernity via policy transfer: the utility of the 2003 Afghan National Drug control Strategy’ in the International Journal of Drug Policy, shortlisted for the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction Scientific Paper Award.

In terms of publications, August saw Dave publish an article, ‘Drugs policy metrics under review’ in Jane’s Intelligence Review, with his ideas on metrics and other issues also receiving some attention in a World Policy piece, ‘Threading the needle - The UN and the war on drugs’.  His broader research into international drug policy was also featured in an Academy of Social Science, WISERD (Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods) and Swansea University’s Research Institute for Applied Social Science (RIASS) publication ‘Making the Case for Social Science in Wales’.  This was launched in July at the BIS Conference Centre in London before an audience of policy makers, civil servants, MPs and social scientists.  In August, Dave on behalf of the GDPO was also among 37 signatories to an open letter calling for an urgent enquiry into the UK’s role in funding anti-narcotic operations abroad that involve the death penalty.  Following on from a GDPO View from the Ground blog in July, ‘Magical journalism and the chemical war’, Ross published an excellent blog for Le Monde Diplomatique.  Titled ‘Chemicals don’t Discriminate’, the piece focuses on the Colombian government’s decision to halt the use of glyphosate in the aerial eradication of coca crops; a decision that was made while the GDPO team was in Colombia in May. And last but not least, the GDPO congratulates Research Associate Constanza whose PhD thesis was awarded the prestigious Reina Sofía research award on drugs in July. Well done Constanza, we look forward to reading the translated thesis in English!


 Sánchez AvilésThe award winning Dr Sánchez Avilés



GDPO Quarterly News: April 2015 - July 2015

Global Drug Policy Observatory (GDPO) Quarterly News - April - July 2015


With Dave Bewley-Taylor meeting up with Ross Eventon and newly appointed GDPO Research Associate, Dr Alastair Smith in Bogota, May saw members of the Observatory team conduct long planned fieldwork in Colombia.  Examining various aspects of ‘supply-side’ drug policy within the country, particularly the practice of aerial eradication, research involved hooking up with Pedro Arenas, director of the  NGO Observatory of Declared Illicit Crops and Cultivators, Indepaz (now a GDPO partner organisation), and travelling out of the city to South East Colombia and the Department of Guaviare.    

 ‌Sunset over Guaviare countryside (small)

Sunset over Guaviare countryside 


With the team staying in the Department’s capital, San José del Guaviare, Pedro generously used his connections as the town’s former mayor to organise not only a set of meetings with influential and informed individuals within the region (including the governor), but also a rare opportunity to travel out into the countryside.  Benefitting from current peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the FARC and the related ceasefire, the team was - via a sturdy 4X4 - able to get well off the beaten track to meet with communities often ignored within discussion of drug policy (or indeed any policy) within Colombia.  As such, the team had the privilege of meeting community leaders, subsistence farmers and the members of a number of settlements deep within the Department of Guaviare. For a fuller account of the fieldwork, see Alastair’s GDPO blog, View from the Ground: Infrastructure and Coca in Guaviare, Colombia.  Research conducted during the fieldwork will be presented within a forthcoming GDPO Policy Report.  On returning to Bogota after what is best described as an interesting bus journey from San José del Guaviare, both Ross and Dave gave presentations on ongoing GDPO research projects (international drug control and the UNGASS and counter narcotics in Afghanistan) at the Department of Political Science at the University of Los Andes.   

A road in the Guaviare countryside (on a good day)

A road in the Guaviare countryside (on a good day) 


Meanwhile, in Budapest, in her role as Professor within the School of Public Policy at Central European University, GDPO Senior Research Associate Julia Buxton delivered a highly successful two-day professional development course, Anticipating Drug Legalisation.  Assisted by Dr Rick Lines (Executive Director of Harm Reduction International and Chair and co-founder of the International Centre on Human Rights and Drug Policy at the University of Essex), Dr Kasia Malinowska-Sempruch (OSF) and Tom Wales of Oxford Analytica, the course provided managers and strategic planners with the intellectual and analytical tools to enable predictive assessment of drug legalisation on sector-specific investments and interests in a diversity of country contexts. Back in Swansea, mid June saw the GDPO re-engage with its institutional partners, the Cyber-terrorism Project and the Language Research Centre, to develop further a collaborative research project on the Dark Net.  In so doing, this follow-on meeting to an initial exploratory event held in late 2014 involved a smaller group of participants, including colleagues from the University of Manchester and the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), with the goal of putting together a major research bid on the topic of the Dark Net as an enabler of illicit activity and behaviours.    


Later in the month, Dave was also in New York to engage in a number of events organised by the United Nations University.  As part of a daylong seminar, ‘Measuring the Impacts of Security Interventions: Innovating for Success in Drugs Policy, Organized Crime and Countering Violent Extremism’, he moderated and contributed to a panel on Drug Policy Interventions. The event generated interesting discussion concerning the measurement of policy impacts across a range of domains and as such informed the GDPO’s ongoing research into drug policy metrics and indicators.


In addition to the View from the Ground blog mentioned above, a number of others were published during the quarter. Linking to Observatory fieldwork in India in late 2014, in April GDPO Technical Advisor Romesh Bhattacharji offered a fascinating insight into cannabis production in parts of India in Heading for the Hills: Cannabis in Malana.  This was followed by the reflections of Constanza Sánchez Avilés, ICEERS Foundation and GDPO Research Associate, on the ninth Conference of the International Society for the Study of Drug Policy in Ghent in May; Is too much discussion on regulation making us forget prohibition?  This was part of a productive month or so for Constanza with April seeing the publication of a book she co-edited with Josep Ibáñez Muñoz .  Published by Tecnos, Mercados Ilegales y Violencia Armada: Los vínculos entre la criminalidad organizada y la conflictividad internacional, contains chapters by both Dave and Constanza. 


Mercados Ilegales y Violencia Armada


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GDPO Quarterly News - January 2015 – April 2015

Quarterly News:  January 2015 – April 2015

Early February saw Julia take part in a panel discussion on drugs and development at the House of Commons.  The Health Poverty Action (HPA) and The British Group Inter-Parliamentary Union (BGIPU) event marked the launch of an excellent HPA report calling for the development sector to rethink its approach to current prohibition oriented drug policy and coincided with the publication of GDPO’s own report on the issue, Drugs and Development: The Great Disconnect.  As such, Julia’s contribution to the discussion  - with guest speakers also including Baroness Meacher, Chair of the Drug Policy Reform All-Party Parliamentary Group, Catherine Martin, Policy Officer at Health Poverty Action, Sir Keith Morris, Former Ambassador to Colombia and  Jeremy Corbyn MP, Vice-Chair of the Human Rights All-Party Parliamentary Group  -  drew heavily upon her GDPO research.  Indeed, with the organisers kindly distributing The Great Disconnect at the event, the report received much positive feedback.   


untitled 1

Julia at the HPA-BGIPU event at the House of Commons  

Later in the month, and further afield, Dave attended the International Studies Association annual conference in New Orleans.  There he presented on the current dynamics of the international drug control system as part of a vibrant roundtable discussion entitled ‘Drug policy: Challenges and Possibilities of Reform’.  The session was expertly chaired by Renata Segura (Social Science research Council, New York – SSRC), with the other speakers including Sabrina Stein (SSRC), Alison Holcomb (American Civil Liberties Union), John Walsh (Washington Office on Latin America) and Heather Haase (Harm Reduction Coalition and International Drug Policy Consortium, IDPC).    


untitled 2

The ISA Roundtable Panellists. (L-R: Dave, Renata, Alison, Sabrina, John and Heather) 

As is the norm at this time of the year, much energy was devoted to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) at the UN in Vienna.  With Ross relocating from Argentina to Bogotá -  as a visiting researcher in the Department of Political Science at the University of Los Andes - to research drug eradication in Colombia, Dave was involved with preparations for and participation in the CND’s annual session.  In terms of the former, this involved support for and work on a Fact Sheet/sign on ‘letter’ on the proposal to discuss the international scheduling of ketamine at the 58th CND.  At the Commission itself, GDPO co-organised an official side event with IDPC, and the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the OSCE, the United Nations and the International Organizations titled, ‘Towards better measurements and improved system-wide coherence: Policy indicators, development and public health’.    With the other speakers, Mike Trace (IDPC) and Alison Crocket (UNAIDS), covering various aspects of the issue, Dave presented parts of ongoing GDPO research and focused on ‘Norms, Numbers and the Metrics Trap’.  While at the CND, he also chaired a Harm Reduction International, IDPC and Reprieve side event, ‘Drugs and the death penalty: Prioritising human rights, health and harm reduction over punitive approaches to drug policy’ and, on behalf of the ECOSOC accredited IDPC, made a statement in the Commission’s plenary discussion on supply reduction measures.

300 x 300‌‌ 

CND Panel, ‘Towards better measurements and improved system-wide coherence: Policy indicators, development and public health’ (L-R, Martin Matter, Permanent Mission of Switzerland, Alison Crocket, Mike Trace and Dave Bewley-Taylor)

During the quarter, the GDPO continued to publish a steady stream of outputs relating to different research projects.  As part of the UNGASS work stream the Observatory published The Rise and Challenge of Dark Net Drug Marketsand, as noted above Drugs and Development: The Great DisconnectThe latter is also available as an abridged version.  The past few months have also seen a number of new Situation Analyses, namely Assessment of the first year of the legally regulated cannabis market in Uruguayand, as part of the GDPO’s ongoing work on drugs and the Dark Net,  Silk Road: After being closed twice, can the brand ever ‘rise again?’, A year since the closure of silk road, The growing industry of Darknet Marketing, Operation Onymous: International law enforcement agencies target the Dark Net and The booming market of alternative cryptocurrencies. And, last but not least, drawing on research conducted during his time in Argentina, Ross produced an insightful and timely blog on the drug market in Rosario. This is the first in a new ‘View from the Ground’ series of blog posts that seek to complement desk based research by drawing upon GDPO fieldwork and the experiences of colleagues working within different parts of the world. 










GDPO Quarterly News - October 2014 – January 2015

During October, November and December, the GDPO team were involved in a range of activities, including fieldwork and a number of seminars and workshops.  At the beginning of October, with colleagues from TNI and GDPO Technical Advisor, Romesh Bhattacharji, Dave headed to the foothills of Himalayas in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh.  Here, as part of ongoing research for the second edition of the TNI-GDPO report Rise and Decline of Cannabis Prohibition, they visited the remote village of Malana.  Isolated for much of the year due to heavy snowfall, Malana is well known for producing high quality cannabis, although cultivation of the drug is technically forbidden under Indian law.

Tom Cannabis







TNI's Tom Blickman amongst the cannabis and Gods in Malana


Shortly afterwards, Dave was in Amsterdam (VU University of Amsterdam) presenting on the principles of the IDPC’s Modernising Drug Law Enforcement (MDLE) project at the Second International Conference on Law Enforcement and Public Health.  In the midst of a busy few weeks, GDPO then teamed up with partner organisations the Washington Office on Latin America, TNI, and the International Centre on Human Rights and Drug Policy (ICHRDP) for a co-organised expert seminar, International Law and Drug Policy Reform, inWashington D.C.  Involving a wide range of drug policy experts and international lawyers from around the world, the Chatham House rules seminar discussed various issues relating to the tensions and challenges surrounding the extant UN drug control treaties.  The seminar report is coming soon.  Among other things, discussions at the seminar led to the publication by Martin Jelsma (TNI), Damon Barrett (ICHRDP) and Dave of the Huffington Post blog, ‘Fatal Attraction: Brownfield's Flexibility Doctrine and Global Drug Policy Reform.’  Back in Swansea, the end of the month also saw Ross and Dave work with partners within the University to organise and co-host ‘The Dark Web: An Interdisciplinary Workshop’.  Linking with the Observatory’s ongoing work on crypto drug markets and organised and run with the Cyberterrorism project, the Language Research Centre, the Research Institute for Applied Social Sciences and the Research Institute for Arts and Humanities, the workshop engaged with researchers and non-University based practitioners across a range of related fields to explore research synergies.  The event saw Research Associate Tim Bingham present ongoing GDPO research into the Dark Net and Crypto-drug markets.  

In November, Dave and Tim presented on-going GDPO research on drug policy metrics and indicators and the Dark Net  at the IDPC-Chatham House-International Institute for Strategic Studies seminar on MDLE at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House. Later in the month, as in the previous two years, he was also visiting faculty at the Jodhpur NationalUniversity’s Jodhpur School of Public Health where he contributed to the delivery of its third Asian Human Rights and Drug Policy Program.  Back on campus in Wales, towards the end of the month, Ross and Dave contributed to a one-day undergraduate workshop run bySwansea University’s Criminology Department. And importantly, November saw GDPO Research Associate, Constanza Sanchez Aviles, successfully defend her doctoral dissertation on international drug control at her home University, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona.  Congratulations go to Dr Sanchez.  We look forward seeing her work published as a monograph soon.   

Along with the above activities, the GDPO continued to publish a number of outputs. These were, as a complementary publication to Legally regulated cannabis markets in the US: Implications and Possibilities(Nov. 2013), the Policy Brief Selling cannabis regulation: Learning From Ballot Initiatives in the United States in 2012 and the Situation Analysis Not so FAST; The Rise and Rise of the DEA’s Commando Squads.  The latter is the first of a series of publications focusing on various aspects of drug policy in Latin America.  To this end, late December saw Ross depart for Rosario, Argentina, where he will spend time researching and conducting fieldwork. The Observatory’s research once again generated some media interest.  Selling Cannabis Regulation was picked up by the Daily Beast, while Ross was quoted in a Bloomberg News article on US –Russian relations within the context of increasing levels of opium production in Afghanistan.   


GDPO Quarterly News - July 2014 – October 2014

Between July and October, Julia, Ross and Dave were all busy with a range of activities. In July, Dave took part in an ESRC Doctoral Training Centre conference at Cardiff University where he met with postgraduate students to discuss research methodologies.  Mid-July also Julia and Dave involved with the management and delivery of a 10 day intensive Human Rights and Drug Policy summer school, at the Central European University (CEU) in Budapest, Hungary. Funded by the Open Society’s Global Drug Policy Programme, the summer school was attended by 24 participants from across the world. This included colleagues from Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, Lithuania, Tajikistan, Hungary, Jamaica, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, United States of America, Poland, Ireland and the United Kingdom.  Later that month saw the launch of the Spanish language version of the TNI-GDPO report, The Rise and Decline of Cannabis Prohibition (Auge y caída de la prohibición del cannabis. La historia del cannabis en el sistema de control de drogas de la ONU y opciones de reforma).  This was launched by TNI’s Martin Jelsma in Barcelona. During his time in the city, Martin was kept busy with an intensive round of press interviews, with 37,000 copies of the report itself being distributed within Spain as a special addition to the magazine Cañamo, who co-hosted the launch.  


 barca launch






Martin Jelsma – Barcelona launch of Auge y caída de la prohibición del cannabis

Over the summer, both Julia and Dave were members of the Expert Review Panel for the latest report from the Global Commission on Drug Policy, Taking Control: Pathways to Drug Policies that Work, which was launched in September.   Comprising prominent public figures, including numerous ex-heads of state and former UN Secretary General, Kofi Anna, the Commission’s report called for the legal regulation of drugs and an end to the criminalisation of drug users.  Meanwhile, with the focus of activity shifting to the GDPOs on-going work on Afghanistan, September also saw Ross participate in a roundtable discussion held at Glasgow University and organised by the LINKSCH project.  Involving a number of experts and UK government officials, the meeting discussed the current state of opium cultivation in Afghanistan and the nature of US counter-narcotics operations in the country after the military ‘transition’ and partial withdrawal at the end of this year.  At the end of the month, Constanza Sanchez Aviles, GDPO Research Associate & Law, Policy & Human Rights Coordinator at ICEERS Foundation, was core to the organization and running the hugely successful World Ayahuasca Conference in Ibiza. Also at the end of September, Dave was an invited speaker at the 6th Asian Informal Drug Policy Dialogue in New Delhi, India.  An initiative of  TNI and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on belhaf of the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany (BMZ), and incollaboration with the Indian Government, the participants at the dialogue discussed a range of issues, including the traditional use of cannabis within the region and international trends.

The quarter also saw the publication of a number of GDPO grey literature outputs. These were the policy brief From drug war to culture war: Russia’s growing role in the global drug debate and the Situation Analyses A Change of Heart? The Peruvian Government Adopts Alternative Development and Developing drug policy: gender matters.


GDPO Quarterly News - April 2014 – July 2014

During this quarter, members of the Observatory team were involved in various activities. In early May, Dave was the external PhD examiner for Luke Gibbons from the Department of History at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.  Luke’s dissertation Opium, the British Empire and the Beginnings of the International Drug Control Regime ca. 1890-1910 - an excellent revisionist analysis of British attitudes towards engagement with moves to create a multinational control framework - passed with only minor corrections.  We look forward to seeing it published as a monograph in the near future. Later in the month, Julia was part of a panel at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).  ‘Rethinking counternarcotic policies in drug producing countries’ brought together scholars working on the political economy of drugs, conflict and rural issues in Asia, Africa and Latin America.  Debate was around the need of drug policy to incorporate the lessons and insights of an emerging body of research on the political economy of drugs and the role that illicit economies play in broader processes of state formation and agrarian change.  As a result of his prolonged research into drug policy in general, and more recently cannabis policy in particular, in May Dave was invited by officials from the Uruguayan government to become a member of the Advisory Scientific Committee for the evaluation and monitoring of Law 19.172, which established a legally regulated market for cannabis in 2013. In this role, he has been assisting in providing feedback on various evaluation mechanisms.    

June saw both Julia and Dave attended a meeting of the OSF Global Drug Policy Program’s academic grantees in New York.  This was a valuable opportunity to meet up with colleagues from around the world and develop research synergies.  Later that month Julia and Dave also took part in a conference organised by one of the GDPO’s partners, the EC funded LINKSCH project at Glasgow University.  Held in Brussels, ‘Grasping the Links in the Chain: Understanding the Unintended Consequence of International Counter-Narcotics Measures for the EU’ brought together a wide range of researchers with civil society and EC representatives and officials.  The Observatory was well represented with Julia, who is ethics advisor to the project, providing the keynote address and Dave giving a paper on the challenges facing international drug control regime.

In addition to these activities, the GDPO released a number of publications.  In terms of Policy Briefs, these were European policy on khat: Drug policy lessons not learned, Getting high on impact: The challenge of evaluating drug policy and When agendas collide: Combating drugs and organised crime in West Africa. This last Brief is the write-up of a presentation made by Dr Axel Klein, University of Kent, at the GDPO -International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) round-table, ‘The Securitization of Drug Policy in West Africa’, held at the IISS in October 2013.  The Observatory also published a number of Situation Analyses, The Drug Control and Immigration Nexus in the US & the UK and, continuing the work stream on the Dark Net crypo-drug markets, Law enforcement is currently not the greatest threat to the survival of Darknet drug markets.  These publications and general GPDO activities resulted in some media engagement. Research on Khat led to Dave being quoted by and Julia participating as the drug policy expert on a somewhat feisty BBC Radio Wales phone-in. Dave was also quoted in a New York Times piece on the UNODC’s 2014 World Drug Report.


GDPO Quarterly News- Jan-April 2014

January saw both Dave and Julia contribute to a short course on Drug Policy and Human Rights run by the Legal Studies Department at the CentralEuropeanUniversity in Budapest.  Later that month Dave was also involved in a seminar at the House of Lords run by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Drug Policy Reform; a Group with which he is associated as technical advisor on international drug policy.  Directly following the House of Lords event, Dave was an invited participant at a Transnational Institute (TNI) informal Drug Policy Dialogue in Athens.  Co-hosted by the NGO Diogenis and the Greek government this focussed on policy discussion at the UN. In February, Dave contributed to a short course on Human Rights and Drug Policy run by the International Centre on Human Rights and Drug Policy and the Department of Law at the University of Essex and, as part of Swansea University’s festival of research, the GDPO hosted a documentary screening of Raw Opium: Pain, Pleasure a Profits.  This was followed by a lively panel discussion, ‘The Dilemmas of Drug Policy: Global to Local’.  Ably chaired by Julia, in addition to Dave, panellists included Mike Trace (Chief Executive of RAPT and Chairman of the International Drug Policy Consortium), Ifor Glyn (Chief Executive of SANDS Cymru) and Baroness Molly Meacher (Chair of the APPG for Drug Policy Reform since 2011).

As with many other organisations engaged with the study of drug policy, much of the GDPO’s activities in March focused upon the UN’s Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) and its High-Level Segment.  In addition to giving presentations at side-events on ‘Modernising Drug Law Enforcement’ (IDPC) and ‘International Scheduling and the issues of NPS’ (IDPC & TNI), Dave presented ongoing Observatory research on drug policy metrics at a session entitled, ‘Indicators and the Future of Drug Policy’.  Sponsored by the government of Finland, this was co-organised by the GDPO, LSEIdeas, IDPC and the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy.  The CND was also the venue of the official launch of the TNI-GDPO report, The Rise and Decline of Cannabis Prohibition.  One of the report’s co-authors, TNI’s Martin Jelsma, gave an overview of the findings and conclusions at a side-event titled ‘Cannabis regulation in Uruguay and Washington and Colorado’ (sponsored by the government of Uruguay, TNI and the Washington Office on Latin America.).  The event was exceptionally well attended with over 200 hard copies of the report distributed.  It is also of note that research by Dave and Martin was referred to at length during the Uruguayan Senate discussion of the landmark bill to create a regulated cannabis market within the country. Back in the UK, Emily presented a paper relating to her doctoral research entitled ‘The Global Drug Prohibition Regime: America’s War’, at the British Association of American Studies at its annual conference in Birmingham.

GDPO activities also received some media attention.  A number of news outlets, including, reported on the Rise and Decline Report.  Dave was interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme where he spoke about the impact of changing cannabis polices within the USA on US foreign policy.  He was also quoted in The Guardian and the South Wales Evening Post on various aspects of the shifting drug policy landscape. Julia spoke about drug policy reform as part of an eclectic panel discussion on the BBC’s World Service.   

In addition to the Rise and Decline report published with TNI, the GDPO has since January published a number of Situation Analyses, The UK Khat Ban: Likely Adverse Consequences and Brokering Drugs: The emergence of a new breed of online dealer. 

The Post-Graduate Network met for the second time on 24th January at the London School of Economics.  The GDPO-PGN welcomed a number of new members to the group and discussed a range of issues, including members’ research projects. The next meeting is planned for later in the year and looks set to be in London once again.