Harm Reduction International is a leading NGO dedicated to reducing the negative health, social and legal impacts of drug use and drug policy. We promote the rights of people who use drugs and their communities through research and advocacy to help achieve a world where drug policies and laws contribute to healthier, safer societies.
The organisation is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
We work to ensure that lifesaving harm reduction interventions are adequately funded; to monitor gaps and progress globally in the availability of health and social services for people who use drugs; and, to ensure nobody’s rights are violated in the name of drug control. This work comes together at our biennial international conference, which is the main global forum for the exchange of information and best practice at the intersection of human rights, drug policy and harm reduction.
Harm Reduction International is committed to helping achieve a world in which individuals and communities benefit from drug policies, practices and laws that promote health, dignity and human rights.
The Strategic Plan 2018-2020 pursues our mission through the following strategic objectives:
- To build and share the evidence-base for harm reduction policies, practices and laws
- To strengthen constituencies and build new allies to advocate for harm reduction and human rights
- To increase political will to protect, respect and fulfil the human rights of vulnerable individuals and communities, by funding and implementing harm reduction
Harm Reduction International is governed by a Board of Directors who are elected for a three-year term. HRI follows a Foundations Model of governance, in which the directors are also the members of the organisation. Board appointments are made by resolution of the Board itself.
Harm Reduction International is an international, not-for-profit NGO. It is a charitable company limited by guarantee, meaning it is incorporated and registered with the UK Charity Commission (Charity Number – 1117375) and at Companies House (Company number – 3223265).
A summary of our governance and activities can be found in the introduction to the most recent Audited Financial Accounts (below)
The Board of Directors meets twice a year. Between meetings of the full Board, a four-person Executive Committee, comprised of the Board Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary and Treasurer, implements decisions of the Board.
The following documents and reports describe how we operate:
The formal document establishing Harm Reduction International in 1996 (then under our old name, the 'International Harm Reduction Association') includes details of the aims, objectives and powers of the association in accordance with company law in England and Wales. This document was updated in 2010.
As a company limited by guarantee, there are certain rules and regulations governing how Harm Reduction International operates, which are set out in the Articles of Association (revised 2015) and the Conflicts of Interest Policy.
Harm Reduction International submits annual financial accounts as required under company law in England and Wales. Our accounts are prepared by Kreston Reeves.
Harm Reduction International traces its origins to the first International Conference on the Reduction of Drug-Related Harm, held in Liverpool, England in 1990. The city was one of the first to open needle exchanges, and attracted hundreds of visitors each year who wanted to learn about the 'Mersey Harm Reduction Model'.
The success of the first conference led to its establishment as an annual event held in major cities around the world. It helped to spread the principles behind harm reduction, share knowledge and experience, and build networks of harm reduction practitioners and activists to broaden the response to HIV and unsafe injecting practices. The conference became the primary international meeting and networking point for drug user activists and organisations.
In 1996, the International Harm Reduction Association (IHRA) was launched at the 7th international conference, initially to enable networking and communication between conferences, and facilitate collective advocacy for health-based approaches to drug use and HIV. Over the next few years, the profile of the conference grew, along with the increasing acceptance of harm reduction policies and practice around the world.
In 2006, the organisation expanded its activities beyond the annual conference to include strong programmes of work on public health research, and analysis and on human rights. In 2011, 15 years after it was launched, the International Harm Reduction Association became Harm Reduction International.
HRI benefits from the generous support of the following:
- Open Society Foundations
- European Commission
- Elton John AIDS Foundation
- MAC AIDS Fund
- World Health Organization
- The Swiss Government
- The Robert Carr civil society Networks Fund
- Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs