The Global Initiative Network

GIN Member

Axel Klein

Project Coordinator, SWAIMS project, Human Dynamics

Axel takes a critical approach to the framing and the definitions of organised crime, and pays attention to the institutional interests behind the actions that are taken to combat it. As an anthropologist with long experience of seeing things from below he looks at crime as a cultural construct.

Criminal opportunities, he thinks, arise in the interstices between legal prohibitions imposed by idealist policy makers, and the underlying demand from the less perfect sections of the public. To contain the harm caused by this friction requires pragmatic realism as much as operational capability. A long-standing advocate for the regulation of markets for sex, drugs and gambling, he is particularly interested in questions of systemic corruption, unintended consequences and institutional obstacles to accountability and reform. Crime reduction involves political measures, market modifications and civil society engagement as much as the criminal justice sector.

Axel is currently working on maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea as the Project Coordinator for the Support to West African Integrated Maritime Security, addressing both piracy/armed robbery at sea, illegal and unregulated fishing and pollution offences. He is a Senior Fellow at the Global Drug Policy Observatory at Swansea University, and has recently completed an assessment of cannabis licensing regimes in Jamaica.

He has worked as a consultant for government agencies in the UK, for the European Commission, UNODC, the Caribbean Community and Market, the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States as well as private sector clients. Axel holds a Ph.D. and a BA from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

  • Klein, Axel, Patwardhan, Sudhanshu, Maria Goretti Ane Loglo (2020) Divergences and commonalities between the US opioid crisis and prescription medicine mis/use in West Africa International Journal of Drug Policy, Volume 76, February 2020.
  • Gary Potter and Axel Klein (2020) Coming out of the closet: risk management strategies of illegal cannabis growers in Susan McGregor and Betsy Thom (eds.), Risk and Substance Abuse: framing dangerous people and dangerous places. London: Routledge
  • Klein, Axel (2019) Lutte contre le crime organisé en Afrique de l’Ouest financée par les donateurs – modestes propositions visant à rendre efficace le développement de la justice pénale. In Africa Connection (ed) Laurent Guillaume. Paris: la manufacture des livres
  • Klein, A. 2019. Drug Problem or Medicrime? Distribution and Use of Falsified Tramadol Medication in Egypt and West Africa. Journal of Illicit Economies and Development, 1(1), pp. 52–62. DOI:
  • Klein, Axel (2012). More Police, Less Safety? Policing as a Causal Factor in the Outbreak of Riots and Public Disturbances’, in Briggs, Daniel (ed.) (2012). The English Riots of 2011. Sherfield on Loddon, Hampshire: Waterside Press.

--:-- | --:--