Rick has been called ‘a key figure in the emerging field of human rights and drug policy’, and is known for his leading research and teaching on subjects including international drug control law, prisoners' rights, HIV and human rights, capital punishment and harm reduction.  Prior to joining the faculty at Swansea, Rick worked for over 25 years with national and international non-governmental organisations in Canada, Ireland and the UK.

Rick is Co-Director of the Centre on Criminal Justice and Criminology within the School of Law.  He is also a Senior Research Associate with the Swansea University Global Drug Policy Observatory.

He is the former Executive Director of Harm Reduction International (2010-2018) and the Irish Penal Reform Trust (2003-2007), and for more than a decade represented NGOs at high level United Nations fora including the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs, the UN Human Rights Council and the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board. Rick is a past member of the Strategic Advisory Group to the United Nations Drug Use and HIV, the Technical Advisory Group to the Global Commission on HIV and the Law and the Reference Group to the United Nations on HIV and Injecting Drug Use.

He holds an MA in Sociology (York University, Toronto), an LLM in International Human Rights Law (Irish Centre for Human Rights, National University of Ireland Galway) and a PhD in Law (Middlesex University, UK). His first book, Drug Control and Human Rights in International Law, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2017.

Areas of Expertise

  • International Drug Control Law
  • Human Rights and Drug Policy
  • International Human Rights Law
  • Harm Reduction
  • Prisoners' Rights and Prison Reform
  • Capital Punishment
  • HIV and Human Rights


  1. Lines, R. Drug Control and Human Rights in International Law Cambridge University Press
  2. Lines, R., Barrett, D. Cannabis Reform, ‘Medical and Scientific Purposes’ and the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties International Community Law Review 20 5 436 455
  3. Bewley-Taylor, D., Lines, R. The UN Drug Control Treaties: Contemporary Challenges and Reform International Community Law Review 20 5 399 401
  4. Sander, G., Lines, R. The Death Penalty for Drug Offences: Pulling Back the Curtain to Expose a Flawed Regime (Ed.), Collapse of the Global Order on Drugs: From UNGASS 2016 to Review 2019 Emerald
  5. Csete, J., Lines, R., Jurgens, R. Drug use and prison: The challenge of making human rights protections a reality (Ed.), Drug Use in Prisoners: Epidemiology, Implications, and Policy Responses Oxford University Press

See more...


  • ASC215 Crime, Drugs and Alcohol

    The module explores the relationship between drug and alcohol use, society and crime. Throughout the module, the ways in which the criminal justice system responds to the harms presented by drug and alcohol use and related offending is considered. Students are given the opportunity to explore alternative policy approaches to addressing drug use and drug-related harms other than criminalisation.

  • ASC218 Media, Crime & Criminal Justice

    The media is seen as both shaping and reflecting modern culture; it is also the primary public source of information about crime, criminals and criminal justice. This module focuses on some of the key debates surrounding the relationship between media portrayals of crime, and criminal behaviour and criminal justice policy. What impact does the media have on public perceptions and attitudes regarding crime and criminal justice? Or on criminal justice policy-making? Why is crime news reported in the way that it is? Does exposure to violence in the media increase the likelihood of its commission by the viewer? These questions and many others will be addressed as the module explores the portrayal of crime and criminal justice in both factual and fictional formats

  • ASC324 Dissertation

    This module will equip students with the skills needed to produce a dissertation of between 8,000 and 10,000 words. A series of 6 compulsory meetings with dissertation supervisors followed by optional meetings, enables students to complete this task

  • ASCM17 Understanding Criminological Theory

    This module aims to introduce students to the main explanatory approaches used in criminology, with an appraisal of the aspirations, scope and limitations of each. The focus is on how criminologists have used different paradigms of explanation, what insights these have generated, how they have informed research, debate and policies concerning crime, and the extent to which they have received empirical support.

  • ASCM26 Advanced Issues in Drugs, Alcohol and the Criminal Law

    The module explores the relationship between drugs, alcohol and the criminal law. Throughout the module, the ways in which the criminal justice system responds to the problems presented by drug and alcohol-related offending are critically assessed and both domestic and global perspectives (and practices) regarding policy and law development, enforcement and prevention are explored. Radical perspectives such as those relating to human rights and drug-related harm will also feature within this module.


  • The Evolution of International Criminal Investigations: A Socio-Legal Intersectional Analysis of the Role of Technology in the Evolution of International Criminal Investigations (current)

    Other supervisor: Prof Yvonne Mcdermott Rees
  • International Criminal Investigations: Prosecuting the Perpetrators of Core International Crimes in Domestic Courts (current)

    Other supervisor: Prof Yvonne Mcdermott Rees
  • People’s Rights and Drug Policy in Colombia. (current)

    Other supervisor: Prof David Bewley-Taylor

Public Engagements

In May 2019, Dr Lines' book, 'Drug Control and Human Rights in International Law' received a positive review in the Rutgers Review of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books.
Read the full review online.

On March 15th 2019, Dr Lines published a piece with The Conversation, on the New UN guidelines to mainstream human rights in the global drugs debate.

Public Engagements

Dr Rick Lines: Is international drug control in violation of human rights law?
An interesting podcast, featuring Dr Rick Lines, covering key topics on international drug control

Key Grants and Projects

  • New Psychoactive Substance Use in Moldova and Belarus 2019 - 2019

    Funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund, with Project is in partnership with the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association, Lithuania, £14,595

Public Engagements

On October 24th 2019, Dr Lines published a piece with The Conversation: Safe injection rooms save lives – yet the UK government continues to oppose them