(LONDON 30 July) – Harm Reduction International (HRI) announced today the appointment of Naomi Burke-Shyne as its new executive director. She will take the position on 1 September 2018, replacing Dr Rick Lines who has served as executive director since 2010.
Naomi joined Harm Reduction International in October 2017 as deputy director and has worked across harm reduction, human rights and HIV for over a decade. Immediately prior to HRI, she worked for Open Society Foundations’ Public Health Program, supporting civil society to challenge the negative impact of drug policy and to strengthen access to justice for people who use drugs.
From 2009-14, Naomi worked for the HIV and Health Law Program of the International Development Law Organization (IDLO), posted in Jakarta, Kathmandu, and Kampala. During this period, she supported programmes advancing the rights of populations vulnerable to HIV via legal services and national human rights mechanisms. Naomi is a trained lawyer with an additional five years of legal practice experience in Australia.
Harm Reduction International board chair, John Ryan, said: “We are delighted that Naomi has accepted the offer to lead Harm Reduction International. Her tremendous international experience working with key populations, including people who use drugs, truly made her stand out during a competitive hiring process. The diversity of Naomi’s professional background as lawyer, grant-maker and advocate, makes us confident that she will build on the great work of Rick Lines and take HRI from strength-to-strength.”
Naomi Burke-Shyne said of her appointment: “I’m honoured to take this role at an organisation with such a strong history of producing forward-looking research and policy analysis. Too many people remain unnecessarily criminalised, discriminated against and stigmatised for drug use and possession. This negatively impacts their rights and ability to access the health services they need - including lifesaving harm reduction interventions. I am committed to continuing to promote evidence-based public health policies and practices, and approaches to drug policy that are grounded in human rights.”
Harm Reduction International— an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations—was founded in 1996. Its work monitors the death penalty for drug offences, harm reduction in prisons and funding for harm reduction in low- and middle-income countries. The organisation also provides technical assistance to country-level partners working to advocate for a redirection of drug control spending to harm reduction.
Every two years, HRI publishes the only independent analysis of the state of harm reduction around the world, with the next publication due out later this year. In 2019, the organisation will hold its 26th international conference, HR19, which will take place in Porto, Portugal from 28 April – 1 May. This follows the 2017 conference, which was held in Montreal, Canada.