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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.

Harm Reduction International Executive Director announces his departure

Date: 29 May 2018

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After eleven years at Harm Reduction International, eight of them as Executive Director, I will be stepping down at the end of August.

This year marks my 25th anniversary working in harm reduction.  I first started in 1993, at a tiny AIDS service organisation in Toronto providing HIV services to people in prison. Our job was to fight the system to get people access to meds, to outside HIV specialists, to early release and for wider policy change such as provision of needle exchange and OST.  It would be several years before I first heard the term ‘harm reduction’, or learned that the philosophy we followed in our work was part of a growing global movement for health and justice.  Little did I imagine that one day I would have the opportunity to work for, let alone lead, an organisation like Harm Reduction International.  At the same time, little did I imagine that so many of the injustices we were fighting against 25 years ago would remain unresolved today.

While debates about the ‘definition of harm reduction’ continue to cause conflict within many UN settings, the harm reduction approach for me was always easy to understand: treating people with dignity and respect; valuing the lived experience of peers; believing no one should have their lives or health put at risk – or go to prison – simply because of the drugs they chose to use; fighting stigma and discrimination, and the laws and policies that drive them; recognising the pernicious relationship between drug laws and racism, sexism, poverty, homophobia, colonisation and other societal evils.  

The former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health (and longstanding HRI friend) Paul Hunt has described harm reduction as human rights put into practice, which I think is as good a definition as any.

My experience in those early years has driven my work at Harm Reduction International, and played a huge role in the trajectory of our development over the last eleven years. I am incredibly proud of the work we have achieved together over that time, innovative work that in many cases has shifted the way our sector thinks about our issues, and how we engage with others.

HRI’s ground-breaking work on the death penalty for drugs offences; our pioneering use of international human rights law and UN human rights mechanisms as engines for harm reduction advocacy; our ongoing mapping of the Global State of Harm Reduction; our monitoring of international and national financial support for harm reduction; our work on harm reduction in prisons; all of the incredible HRI conferences; and much more.   It’s a legacy of work all of us at HRI can be proud of, and none of it would have been possible without the great team of people I have worked with over the last decade. I want to thank all my dedicated co-workers, our Board members, our donors, our partners and the many many people in our amazing international harm reduction family for making my time at HRI so enjoyable and inspiring.

In September, I will take up an appointment as Associate Professor of Criminology and Human Rights in the School of Law at Swansea University in Wales, where I will continue to pursue my long term goal of mainstreaming drug control into wider human rights advocacy, and fostering the development of new generations of human rights activists and lawyers dedicated to our cause.

Our Board will oversee the implementation of our leadership transition plan, commencing in June 2018, details of which will follow on our website.  

While leading HRI has been an immense privilege, I believe that part of good leadership is knowing when it’s time to step aside and make space for the next generation of leadership to emerge.  I will watch that process with excitement and anticipation.

Hope to see you all in Porto for HR19!

Rick Lines

© 2018 Harm Reduction International.

Charity number – 1117375 | Company number – 3223265

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