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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 Board of Directors of up to nine people, who are 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

Contact Us

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 our 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.

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
61 Mansell Street
E1 8AN

Tel: +44(0) 207 324 3535
Join us on Facebook at: Harm Reduction International
Follow us on Twitter at: HRInews
Join us on Instagram at: hrinews


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.

69 years later, we’re still arguing for the right to life

Date: 17 December 2017

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This article was originally published on Medium. The original can be found here.

Gen Sander, Human Rights Analyst, Harm Reduction International

Alireza Madadpur, a young man with no criminal record from a poor family, was executed for drug offences in Iran last summer. Scraping to make ends meet, Alireza agreed to a cleaning job offered by an acquaintance. As he waited outside on his first day, police raided the house and found 990 grams of crystal meth. Although only guilty of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, Alireza was arrested.

Alireza was interrogated for weeks then assigned a state lawyer who never took the time to meet him. During Alireza’s trial, the judge sentenced him to be lashed and hanged after just 20 minutes. Alireza’s petitions for a retrial and pardon were rejected.

This horrific story is the violent front line of the so-called ‘war on drugs.’ Most shocking is the fact that stories like these are not isolated – thirty-three countries still have laws enabling them to prescribe the death penalty for drug offences. While often justified as being a necessary deterrent, the death penalty does not reduce drug use or trafficking.

This week, sixty-nine years ago, the international community adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, marking an optimistic new era in which the dignity, rights and equality of every individual would be observed. The fact that the so-called ‘war on drugs’ continues to ignore human rights law and destroy the lives of ordinary people and their families is simply unacceptable.

At Harm Reduction International, we have researched, studied and advocated against the death penalty for drug offences since 2007. We have monitored state practice and demonstrated that the use of the death penalty for drug offences is a violation of international human rights law. Yet our findings show that, in the name of drug control, countries continue to execute hundreds of people for non-violent drug offences every year, while many hundreds more remain on death row. Most of these men and women are poor, vulnerable and marginalised low level couriers who are often subjected to forced confessions and unfair trials.

Our latest research, which will be published in early 2018, indicates that between January 2015 and November 2017, more than 1,300 people were executed for drug-related offences. An extreme fringe of the international community – Iran, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Indonesia – are responsible for these deaths. While this estimate does not include China as data on the use of the death penalty remains a ‘state secrete’ and figures are too unreliable, Amnesty International maintains the country continues to execute thousands of people every year for all crimes, including drug-related offences. Just this past June, it was reported that thirteen men and women accused of drug offences were sentenced to death in front of a crowd of 10,000 in Guangdong Province.

Under international human rights law, the death penalty is not prohibited, but is heavily restricted. In countries that retain the death penalty, the law says it may only be imposed for the “most serious crimes” - specifically intentional crimes with lethal consequences. Human rights authorities and international drug control bodies have repeatedly confirmed that drug offences do not meet this threshold.

With the exception of this extreme fringe of countries aggressively pursuing disproportionately harsh penalties for drug crimes, there is growing international recognition that the use of death penalty for drug offences is a violation of the right to life, and a breach of the prohibition of torture. As the UN Secretary General recently affirmed, there is no place for this cruel, disproportionate and irreversible penalty in the 21st century.

On Human Rights Day 2017, we call on states to ensure that drug laws and policies are implemented in full compliance with international human rights law and standards to safeguard the dignity and lives of people like Alireza. This requires taking immediate measures to halt executions, commute death sentences, and abolish the death penalty for drug-related offences as a first step towards its full abolition.

Photo Nigel Brunsdon, Release Museum of Drug Policy, from the "Waiting Girls" by Sadegh Souri.

© 2018 Harm Reduction International.

Charity number – 1117375 | Company number – 3223265

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