Colombian farmer looks at destroyed crop field.

After the Drug Wars

This report, endorsed by 6 Nobel Prize winners, sets out a framework for the future of international drug policy in the 'post war on drugs' era, based on the Sustainable Development Goals.

To build the drugs peace we must replace prohibition based policies with a 'development first, drug control second' approach built upon principles of harm reduction and human rights.

The report includes articles on regulation, policing, public health, and the impacts of drug policy on women, and considers throughout metrics and how to build an evidence base for policy reform.

Read the report:

After the Drug Wars 

Foreword (signed by 6 Nobel Prize Winners)

The post-‘war on drugs’ era has begun. Prohibitionist policies must now take a back seat to the new, comprehensive, people-centred set of universal goals and targets that we know as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Nation states and the global drug regulatory system must shift to principles of sustainable development that include: public health, harm reduction of consumption and supply, access to essential medicines, and scientific experimentation with strict legal regulation.

To enable this transformation, nation states should drastically deprioritise the prohibitionist goals of the past. They must implement new comprehensive development policies dealing with the root causes of problems associated with illicit drugs.

The ‘war on drugs’ caused the international community to prioritise prohibitionist policies over sustainable development at a terrible socioeconomic cost. As the United Nations Development Programme highlights in the discussion paper excerpted in this report, ‘evidence indicates that drug control policies often leave an indelible footprint on sustainable human development processes and outcomes… [and] have fuelled the marginalisation of people linked with illicit drug use or markets.’

This report recognises that key reforms within the global regulatory system will come from changes at the national and local levels. It highlights that the UN drug control treaties recommend an approach grounded in the ‘health and welfare’ of mankind. Further, it emphasises that human rights obligations have absolute supremacy over drug control goals and as such there is sufficient interpretive scope within the treaties to experiment with social scientific policies that can further global health and welfare.

The world can shift away from counterproductive and ineffective drug policies. The UN General Assembly Special Session in 2016 is a key platform for driving debate. However, the ultimate impetus lies with countries to reform their policies based on evidence and local realities. This report provides a framework for achieving this shift.

  • Juan Manuel Santos, President of the Republic of Colombia, 2016 Nobel Peace Prize
  • Professor Daron Acemoğlu, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2005 John Bates Clark Medal 
  • Dr Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, Pasteur Institute, 2008 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine Professor
  • Erik Berglöf, Director, LSE Institute of Global Affairs Professor
  • Paul Collier, CBE, University of Oxford Professor
  • Michael Cox, Director, LSE IDEAS
  • Sir Thomas Hughes-Hallett, Founder, LSE Marshall Institute
  • Professor Gareth Jones, Director, LSE Latin America Centre
  • Professor Emeritus Margot Light, London School of Economics
  • Professor Eric Maskin, Harvard University, 2007 Nobel Prize in Economics
  • Professor Francisco Panizza, London School of Economics
  • Professor Danny Quah, Director, LSE Southeast Asia Centre
  • Professor Dani Rodrik, Harvard University, 2007 Albert O. Hirschman Prize
  • Professor Thomas Schelling, University of Maryland, 2005 Nobel Prize in Economics
  • Professor Vernon L. Smith, Chapman University, 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics
  • Dr Javier Solana, EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy (1999-2009)
  • Professor Oliver Williamson, University of California Berkeley, 2009 Nobel Prize in Economics


  • LSE IDEAS is responsible for the overall conclusions of this report. Each Contributor is responsible solely for the views expressed in his or her contribution.
  • Biographies from time of publication.
  • Professor Danny Quah is Professor of Economics and International Development, and Director of the Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre within the Institute of Global Affairs at LSE. He had previously served as LSE’s Head of Department for Economics (2006 – 2009) and Council Member on Malaysia’s National Economic Advisory Council (2009 – 2011). He is Tan Chin Tuan Visiting Professor at the National University of Singapore, and lectures regularly at Peking University.
  • Dr John Collins is Executive Director of the IDPP at LSE IDEAS. His research focuses on the history and political economy of international drug control. He is coordinating a British Council funded project on ‘Illicit Drug Production and the Search for Peace in Colombia.’
  • Tenu Avafia is a Policy Adviser on law, human rights and treatment access issues in the HIV, Health and Development Group in the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Bureau for Development Policy. His responsibilities include overseeing the implementation of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law Report. He also leads a UNDP programme to increase the access and delivery of new health technologies for neglected tropical diseases in low and middle income countries.
  • Professor Jonathan Caulkins is the H. Guyford Stever Professor of Operations Research and Public Policy at Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University. His research focuses on modelling the effectiveness of interventions related to drugs, crime, violence, delinquency, and prevention.
  • Dr Joanne Csete is Adjunct Associate Professor at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. Previously she was an Associate Professor of Public Health at Columbia University; the Founding Director of the HIV and Human Rights Program at Human Rights Watch; Executive Director of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network; and a senior technical advisor at UNICEF.
  • Sergio Chaparro Hernández is a researcher at Dejusticia, a Colombian human rights organisation and think/do tank based in Bogota. An Economist, philosopher and Master in Law at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, he has worked as a professor of labor economics, consultant at the Colombian Center of Historical Memory, the National Union School and the Ombudsman´s Office. He has also worked as a political adviser in the Bogota Council and Congress.
  • Dr Vanda Felbab-Brown is a Senior Fellow with the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence in the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution. She is an expert on international and internal conflicts and non-traditional security threats, including insurgency, organized crime, urban violence, and illicit economies.
  • Dr Beau Kilmer is a Senior Policy Researcher at the RAND Corporation, where he codirects the RAND Drug Policy Research Center. He is also a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. His research lies at the intersection of public health and public safety, with a special emphasis on substance use, illicit markets, crime, and public policy.
  • Dr David Mansfield is an independent consultant widely regarded as the pre-eminent expert on rural livelihoods and opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan. David has advised a range of bilateral, multilateral and nongovernment organisations, including the UK Government, the EC, the World Bank, GTZ, as well as various NGOs on both policy and operational issues with regard to illicit drugs.
  • Dr Kasia Malinowska-Sempruch is the Director of the Open Society Global Drug Policy Program. A major contributor to the debate about the interplay of drug use and HIV, Malinowska-Sempruch previously headed the Open Society International Harm Reduction Development Program, introducing and significantly scaling up access to needle exchange and substitution treatment across Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
  • Professor Mark Shaw is the Director of the Centre of Criminology in the Faculty of Law, University of Cape Town (UCT). He also holds the South African National Research Foundation (NRF) Chair in Security and Justice. Appointed to the Centre in September 2014, He aims to strengthen and improve research and innovation in the field of security and justice in South Africa, to build capacities required for research that will enhance explanatory and normative understanding of African security and justice.
  • Dr Michael Shiner is Assistant Director of the Mannheim centre for criminology at the London School of Economics, and is a member of StopWatch, which works to ensure fair and accountable stop and search. Prior to this he worked at the Public Policy Research Unit, Goldsmiths College and the Policy Studies Institute. His work has included analyses conducted on behalf of the Independent Committee of Inquiry into the Misuse of Drugs Act.
  • Bryce Pardo is an Analyst at BOTEC. His international work experience and knowledge gives him unique insight into transnational drug trafficking, international drug control, and comparative drug laws. He served five years as an official at the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) within the Organization of American States (OAS). During this time he contributed to and edited the OAS Report on the Drug Problem in the Americas (2013).
  • Dr Catalina Pérez Correa González is Professor and Researcher in Legal Studies Division at CIDE (Mexico). She studied at the Stanford University School of Law in California. She was a Researcher at the Institute of Legal Research of UNAM, a Professor at the Faculty of Law of the UNAM, and visiting Researcher at Georgetown University. Her research interests include law enforcement in Mexico, the operation of the criminal justice system, and drug policy in Latin America.
  • Professor Harold Pollack is the Helen Ross Professor at The University of Chicago. He has published widely at the interface between poverty policy and public health. His recent research concerns HIV and hepatitis prevention efforts for injection drug users, drug abuse and dependence among welfare recipients and pregnant women, infant mortality prevention, and child health.
  • Professor Peter Reuter is a Professor in the School of Public Policy and the Department of Criminology at the University of Maryland. He founded and directed RAND’s Drug Policy Research Center from 1989-1993. He also served as the founding President of the International Society for the Study of Drug Policy (ISSDP). Among his six books is (with Robert MacCoun) Drug War Heresies: Learning from other Vices, Times and Places.
  • Olga Rychkova is a Program Officer for the International Harm Reduction Development Program, focusing on access to health and to justice for women marginalised for their drug use. Prior to joining the Open Society Foundations in June, 2009, Rychkova worked at Mainline, a harm reduction advocacy group in Amsterdam that works to protect health and rights of people who use drugs, and promote better public health policies for marginalised people.
  • Javier Sagredo is Regional Democratic Governance and Citizen Security Advisor at the UNDP. Before working for UNDP, he was Senior Advisor, Section Chief and Coordinator of projects in the OAS in areas like social inclusion, institutional development and public policy on drugs in Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • Rebecca Schleifer is a globally respected advocate, researcher and scholar working in the field of health and human rights. Her expertise encompasses human rights aspects of drug control policies, disability, and HIV and AIDS, with particular attention to girls and women, sex workers, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender men and women, people who use drugs, and other marginalised high risk groups.
  • Dr Francisco E. Thoumi is a member of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB). He is a senior member of the Colombian Academy of Economic Sciences and Corresponding member of the Royal Academy of Moral and Political Sciences (Spain). He has been a Professor at the University of Texas, Rosario University (Bogotá) and California State University, Chico, and worked for 15 years in the research departments of the World Bank and the Interamerican Development Bank.
  • Dr Rodrigo Uprimny Yepes is a Founder and Director of Dejusticia (Colombia), member of CEDD, and Professor of Constitutional Law, Human Rights and Theory of the State at the Universidad Nacional (Bogota). He is the author of numerous articles on human rights, constitutional law, tensions between law and economics, drug trafficking and the court system.

Launch Events

Private Event

After the Drug Wars Policy Planning Workshop

How do we build the drugs peace? To accompany the launch of After the Drug Wars, the Expert Group on the Economics of Drug Policy held a two-day policy Planning Workshop at LSE. Watch short film on YouTube.

Public Event

After the Drug Wars report launch

In this event, contributors to After the Drug Wars from the LSE Expert Group on the Economics of Drug Policy set out a new framework for drug control based on the Sustainable Development Goals.