Vanda Felbab-Brown is a senior fellow in the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence in the Foreign Policy program at Brookings. She is also the director of the Brookings project “Improving Global Drug Policy: Comparative Perspectives and UNGASS 2016” and co-director of another Brookings project, “Reconstituting Local Orders.” She is an expert on international and internal conflicts and nontraditional security threats, including insurgency, organized crime, urban violence, and illicit economies. Her fieldwork and research have covered, among others, Afghanistan, South Asia, Burma, Indonesia, the Andean region, Mexico, Morocco, Somalia, and eastern Africa.

Felbab-Brown is the author of “The Extinction Market: Wildlife Trafficking and How to Counter It” (Hurst, 2016, forthcoming); “Narco Noir: Mexico’s Cartels, Cops, and Corruption” (Brookings Institution Press, 2019, forthcoming);  “Aspiration and Ambivalence: Strategies and Realities of Counterinsurgency and State-Building in Afghanistan” (Brookings Institution Press, 2012) and “Shooting Up: Counterinsurgency and the War on Drugs” (Brookings Institution Press, 2010). She is also the author of numerous policy reports, academic articles, and opinion pieces. A frequent commentator in U.S. and international media, Felbab-Brown regularly provides congressional testimony on these issues.

Among her recent publications are: “Who Pays for Peace in Colombia,” The Brookings Institution, September 29, 2016; “What’s the Best Way to Organize a Coalition around Countering Terrorism,” (with Seyom Brown), The Brookings Institution, June 7, 2016; “Blood and Faith in Afghanistan: A June 2016 Update,” The Brookings Institution, June 2016; “The Hits and Misses of Targeting the Taliban,” The New York Times, May 25, 2016; “Little to Gloat About,” The Cipher, April 3, 2016; “Breaking Bad in the Middle East and North Africa: Drugs, Militants, and Human Rights,” (with Sultan Barakat and Harold Trinkunas) The Brookings Institution, March 22, 2016; “The Global Poaching Vortex,” (with Bradley Porter), The Brookings Institution, March 2, 2016; “Safe in the City: Urban Spaces Are the New Frontiers of International Security,” The Brookings Institution, February 18, 2016; “Drugs and Drones: The Crime Empire Strikes Back,” Oxford University’s Remote Warfare Blog, February 18, 2016; “Cuidado: The Inescapable Necessity of Better Law Enforcement in Mexico,” LSE, February 2016; and “No Easy Exit: Drugs and Counternarcotics Policies in Afghanistan,” The Brookings Institution, April 2015.

Felbab-Brown received her doctorate in political science from MIT and her bachelor’s from Harvard University.

Council on Foreign Relations, member
Crime Law Enforcement, member, advisory board
Global Initiative Against Organized Crime, network member
New York University Center for International Cooperation, U.S.-China Dialogue on Afghanistan and Pakistan, member
Taliban Resources Project, member, advisory board

202.797.6304 — Research Assistant
202.797.6103 — Foreign Policy Program
Crime & Criminal Justice
Drug Trafficking & Counter-Narcotics Policy
Latin America & the Caribbean
South Asia
Terrorism & Extremism
Foreign Policy
Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence
Africa Security Initiative
Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Initiative
Latin America Initiative
Additional Expertise Areas
Drugs and other illicit economies
Counternarcotics policies
Civil war
Conflict management
Stability operations and reconstruction
Positive versus coercive inducement strategies
Latin America
Past Position
Assistant Professor, Security Studies Program, Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service (2007-2008)
Ph.D., MIT, 2007
B.A., Harvard University, 1999

Vanda Felbab-Brown on Twitter