The Centre for the Study of Illicit Economies, Violence and Development (CIVAD) is an international network of affiliated researchers and research organisations working on different aspects of illicit economies across the world. It was built on the foundations of the Drugs and (dis)order project in 2022, to provide grounded, policy-relevant evidence on illicit economies and development in some of the world’s most fragile, conflict-affected regions.


Illicit Economies, Violence & Development Seminar Series, Oct 2022 – March 2023

CIVAD and the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), organised a series of six seminars, bringing together academics, students, policy makers and practitioners with an interest and engagement in questions of illicit economies, violence and development. Watch the recordings of the seminars on the CIVAD website.

Policy Frontiers: Drugs, Development & Peacebuilding Trilemma, 2023

CIVAD organised three policy workshops to discuss drugs, development, and peacebuilding in Colombia and Afghanistan. The workshops focused specifically on the trilemma concept, which points to significant trade-offs between the objectives of peace, development and drug control, indicating that it is impossible to achieve all three simultaneously. These policy workshops, funded by a UKRI consolidator impact grant, draws on research and findings from the Drugs and (dis)order project. 

The Forum on Illicit Drug Crop Economies in the Journal of Peasant Studies (JPS), June 2023 – April 2024

Some of the data and findings of the Drugs and (dis)order project have been introduced into this Forum on Illicit Drug Crop Economies in the Journal of Peasant Studies. The articles address challenges surrounding illicit drug crop cultivation and offer new insights into the problems posed by these prohibited crops, why past policies failed, and what potential solutions might offer. 

The Coercive Brokerage Policy Lab, March 2024 – September 2024

This policy lab led by CIVAD and SOC-ACE brings together specialists and policymakers to explore the nexus between paramilitaries, illicit economies and organised crime, and their relevance regarding sustainable peacebuiding. It advances a conceptual framework for analysing the nexus in borderland and frontier regions and outlines how this concept advances the growing body of recent literature on militias and paramilitaries. 

At the centre of our approach is the concept of ‘coercive brokerage’ which provides a lens for exploring how paramilitaries play a crucial role in shaping power relations by mediating between different scales, jurisdictions and policy domains. This policy lab features four online core-group meetings and two workshops that are conducted in closed sessions with 20 experts, researchers and policymakers. From these sessions, this policy lab will publish a policy brief and final research paper, which follow the two papers on the initial conceptualisation of the coercive brokerage policy debate that were published in early 2024.