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About HRI

HRI is a leading non-governmental organisation working to reduce the negative health, social and human rights impacts of drug use and drug policy by promoting evidence-based public health policies and practices, and human rights based approaches to drugs. Read more about HRI’s history.

Vision and Mission

Our vision is a world in which individuals and communities benefit from drug laws, policies and practices that promote health, dignity and human rights.


Meet our staff at HRI


HRI is governed by a nine person Board of Directors, elected for three-year terms.

What is harm reduction?

Harm reduction refers to policies, programmes and practices that aim to reduce the harms associated with the use of psychoactive drugs in people unable or unwilling to stop. The defining features are the focus on the prevention of harm, rather than on the prevention of drug use itself, and the focus on people who continue to use drugs.

Harm reduction definition and principles in 12 languages

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Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or queries about our website, our work, membership or the international harm reduction conference.


HRI benefits from the generous support of the Open Society Foundations, the European Commission, the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the MAC AIDS Fund, UNAIDS, the World Health Organization, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, the World Bank, The Robert Carr Networks Fund and the Swiss Government.

Harm Reduction International Awards

HRI presents a number of awards at outr international conference to acknowledge the contributions of outstanding groups or individuals in the field.

Strategic Plan

Our vision is a world in which individuals and communities benefit from drug policies, laws and practices that promote health, dignity and human rights

Our Work

Evidence for advocacy

HRI produces groundbreaking research and policy analysis informing advocacy across our sector.

Spending where it matters

Funding for harm reduction services is dangerously short while billions are wasted on drug enforcement. HRI works to assess resourcing needs and advocates for a reinvestment in health.

Harm Reduction Decade

Read our latest report calling for a Harm Reduction Decade, sign the Harm Reduction Decade Declaration, call for #10by20, and stand up for human rights of people who use drugs, their families and communities.

10 by 20 Campaign

We are calling on governments to redirect 10% of the resources currently spent on ineffective punitive responses to drugs and invest it in harm reduction by 2020.

Human rights-based policy

Human rights abuses and drug enforcement go hand in hand. HRI challenges laws, policies and practices that generate harm.

The Death Penalty for Drug Offences

HRI monitors the death penalty for drugs in law and practice worldwide, and also considers critical developments on the issue.

Sector strengthening

HRI builds advocacy coalitions and supports emerging harm reduction networks to strengthen the international harm reduction sector.

International conference

Harm reduction is a global movement. Our biennial gathering is the International Harm Reduction Conference, convened by HRI.


News and Announcements

Read the latest announcements and updates from HRI.

Global State of Harm Reduction

Global State of Harm Reduction

Our flagship publication is the biennial Global State of Harm Reduction report. First published in 2008, it involves a coordinated effort across practitioners, academics, advocates and activists to map global data and responses to HIV and hepatitis C epidemics related to unsafe injecting and non-injecting drug use. It is the only report to provide an independent analysis of the state of harm reduction in the world. The information collated within the report is stored and regularly updated on an interactive e-tool for researchers and advocates.

The Global State of Harm Reduction report is supplemented by regular thematic reports and advisories on key issues and emerging challenges. Please search our Resource Library for more information or join our e-list for regular updates.

Interactive e-tool

Global State of Harm Reduction’ e-tool is an interactive resource containing up-to-date information on harm reduction policy and programming around the world. Users can select countries or regions and create tables for an at-a-glance guide to the current state of harm reduction worldwide.

Resource Library

Resource Library

Use our extensive resource library to search for HRI, NGO and academic reports, articles and presentations, including materials from past international conferences.

Harm Reduction Journal

Harm Reduction Journal, www.harmreductionjournal.com, is an open access, peer-reviewed, online journal whose focus is on the prevalent patterns of psychoactive drug use, the public policies meant to control them, and the search for effective methods of reducing the adverse medical, public health, and social consequences associated with both drugs and drug policies.

Contact Us

Contact Us

Harm Reduction International
Unit 2C09 Southbank Technopark
90 London Road
SE1 6LN  

Tel: +44(0) 207 717 1592
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Conference 2019

The 26th Harm Reduction International Conference (HR19) which will take place April 28-May 1 in Porto, Portugal at the Alfândega Porto Congress Centre.

Register to attend HR19 here.

UN body warns against reintroduction of the death penalty for drug offences in Mauritius and advocates public health interventions as an alternative

Date: 25 May 2010

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UN human rights monitors have warned against the reintroduction of the death penalty for drug offences in Mauritius,  suggesting instead a range of public health interventions designed to address drug related harm in the country, including the decriminalisation and legal prescription of buprenorphine (Subutex). Harm Reduction International (Harm Reduction International) and Collectif Urgence Toxida (CUT) have today applauded the findings.

Throughout May the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights reviewed a comprehensive report submitted by Mauritius along with submissions from international and national NGOs. Among these was a report submitted by Harm Reduction International and CUT on the drug and AIDS situation in Mauritius that contained 7 recommendations. In its “Concluding Observations” released yesterday in Geneva, the Committee adopted all these recommendations and stated that it was “concerned at the alarmingly high number of injecting drug users” in the country and “about the sharp increase in cases of HIV/AIDS, particularly concerning intravenous drug users, sex workers and prison inmates”. It recommended that the Government “undertake a comprehensive approach to combat its serious drug problem.”

In recent years Mauritius has recognised the seriousness of its injecting drug use problem and injection driven HIV, scaling up harm reduction programs in the form of needle and syringe exchange and methadone prescription. According to the UN Committee, however, this has not been enough for Mauritius to live up to its international human rights commitments. The Committee monitors national implementation of the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, a key international treaty ratified by Mauritius in 1973.

“It is certainly laudable that the Government has identified injecting driven HIV/AIDS as a major problem, but what the Committee has said is that Mauritius must do far more if it is to fulfil the right to health of some of its most vulnerable citizens,” said CUT President Percy Yiptong.

“Clearly the Committee was not misled by the statement coming from the Mauritian Government’s delegation in Geneva saying that  `drug use was not at the alarming level the Committee had been led to believe and it was still a marginal problem.´

"This declaration has shocked all the NGOs members of CUT. Government and opposition parties during the recent electoral campaign declared that one of their priorities would be to fight the big drug problem.

 “If, as the Mauritian delegation declares, `drug use is still a marginal problem,´ why would our Prime Minister threaten to reintroduce the death penalty to fight drug issues?,” concluded Yiptong.

The number of injecting drug users in Mauritius is very high, estimated at between 10,000 and 18,000 people. The majority of people inject buprenorphine (Subutex), a synthetic opioid, and the UN states that Mauritius has the second highest rate of opiate use in the world per head of population. The overall prevalence of HIV in Mauritius has been estimated at 1.8% by UNAIDS in 2007, representing approximately 12,000 people.In 2005, 92% of new HIV cases were related to unsafe injecting practices.

The UN Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights  also warned strongly against the reintroduction of the death penalty as a means of  dealing with drug issues. On February 24th Prime Minister Ramgoolam pledged to bring back capital punishment for trafficking in buprenorphine (Subutex) and went on to repeat this pledge during his election campaign. While the Committee recognised the need for the government to take “necessary measures to combat drug trafficking and related corruption”, it also stated clearly that “these measures (must) fully comply with the international human rights standards, including in relation to the abolition of the death penalty.”

“The UN  Committee´s statement is significant because  it makes clear that the death penalty is not solely an issue of civil and political rights, but also one that impacts negatively on economic, social and cultural rights as well,” said Rick Lines, Harm Reduction International’s Deputy Director. “The Committee has warned against such a draconian and abusive measure and has instead recommended the opposite – an approach based on human rights and public health. Its suggestion to decriminalise and legalise prescription of buprenorphine to those who are dependent is excellent. This would both reduce the potential for abuse and would get to the heart of the problem by significantly damaging the profits that are generated from the illicit trade.”


About The Treaty, the Committee and the reporting process:

·       The UN Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights is the independent expert body mandated to monitor implementation of the International Covenant on Economic social and Cultural Rights.


·       This treaty has been ratified by 160 States and is a core document in the International Bill of Rights. http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/cescr.htm

·       As part of each State’s obligations under the treaty, they must report every 5 years to the Committee on legislative, budgetary, administrative and other measures that have been taken to achieve progress towards the full realisation of the rights contained in the covenant, which include the right to health, and the right to an adequate standard of living. The report is followed by a meeting between the Committee and a delegation from the Government.

·       Mauritius has recently submitted its periodic report to the Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights. It is a consolidated report comprising earlier reports that were due but not submitted and as such was thirteen years late


·       NGOs are an integral part of this reporting process and ‘alternative’ or ‘shadow’ reports may be submitted to critique the state report, raise concerns and offer recommendations. NGOs may also meet the Committee in person prior to the Committee’s meeting with the Government delegation to discuss the State’s report.

© 2018 Harm Reduction International.

Charity number – 1117375 | Company number – 3223265

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