Skip to content
  • Menu
  • Harm Reduction Decade

    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

    10 by 20 Campaign

    Everything you need to know about the 10 by 20 campaign

    10 by 20 Pie Chart

  • 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.

  • News

    News and Announcements

    Read the latest announcements and updates from HRI.

  • About

    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

    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 outr international conference to acknowledge the contributions of outstanding groups or individuals in the field.

    Strategic Plan

    An international environment supportive of harm reduction scale up

  • 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.

    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.

  • 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,, 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


    HRI relies on trusts, grants and donations to continue our work. To make a donation or pay membership fees, please use our secure payment page.

    Or why not fundraise for us with ‘Discover Adventure’?

    Contact Us

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

    Tel: +44(0) 207 717 1592
    Fax: +44 (0) 207 922 8822
    Join us on Facebook at: Harm Reduction International
    Follow us on Twitter at: HRInews


    Sign up to receive email updates, report launches, harm reduction advisories and information about the forthcoming international harm reduction conference

Statement from INPUD member at High Level Meeting of CND

Date: 11 March 2009

  • Print
  • Bookmark and Share

Mat Southwell is a member of the International Network of People who Use Drugs (INPUD), an advocacy network funded by Harm Reduction International and others. Mat is participating this week in the High Level Segment of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs as a civil society/drug user representative on the UK delegation. Below is the text of a statement he gave yesterday during one of the thematic roundtable sessions.

'Many new and emerging challenges face the international community with regards to the world drug problem, and old challenges remain as vexing as ever, we believe that many of these will be addressed in other round tables that will take place in the course of this High Level Meeting.

From the UK’s perspective one of the clearest imperatives that face us in the area of drug policy is the need to honour our commitments to the Millenium Development Goals in preventing the spread of HIV, and to ensuring universal access to treatment, care and support by 2010.

In the 1980s a number of cities in the developed world countries realized that they had HIV rates approaching or exceeding 50% among injecting drug users. The threat to cities like Edinburgh, Dublin, Milan, and New York led to a fundamental re-think of traditional drug practice approaches. Scientific evidence shows that the introduction of needle exchange, opioid substitution therapy, and outreach services was key to curtailing these public health crises before they became national catastrophes.

Two decades later a new generation of countries and cities are facing HIV rates at or above 50% of injecting drug users. The HIV epidemic is now being driven in some countries by injecting drug user but the consequences will reach far beyond my community. While you may not care about the lives of my community, our deaths also leave our children without parents and our parents without their children. Even if this doesn’t move you, many developing world countries are storing up a public health time bomb that will wipe out swathes of their productive work forces while simultaneously placing a huge burden on fragile healthcare systems.

However, this year’s declaration is so driven by dogma that it will not even acknowledge the life saving impact of harm reduction interventions.

I would like to thank the UK government for inviting the International Network of People who Use drugs (INPUD) to join its delegation. In many countries around the world, we are recognized as partners in the dialogue around the implementation and review of drug policy and practices. However, the UN’s drug control program remains at odds with almost every other division of the UN in its engagement with civil society.

Drug use and drug policy touches the lives of many but the coordination of drug policy remains exclusive to Member States only and as such UNODC has failed to utilize the common participative systems that are deployed as safeguards within other UN processes. UNODC has lost the opportunity during the UNGASS review process to learn from people who use drugs and thereby our expertise and insights are not integrated.

Nonetheless we stand ready to engage with this process and take part and support member states in their search for effective drug policies

Public health and criminal justice approaches are not easy bed fellows. However, within the current system it is still possible to find an effective balance between the need to protect society from crime and the need to protect individual and public health. Many drug user groups are involved in practical partnership with law enforcement agencies including training for police officers, the management of anti-social behavior in local communities and policy discussions. However, when police forces and criminal justice systems follow the most extreme versions of drug policy, drug users are excluded as partners, services are made less accessible, and risk behavior increases.

The United Nations should be the guardian of human rights and all divisions of the United Nations should adhere to the inalienable rights set out United Nations Charter on Human Rights. This declaration is a beacon of hope to oppressed and marginalised peoples around the world. However, within the UN, concern is mounting about the human rights abuses against people who use drugs conducted and justified under in name of Drug Control. My community is routinely denied the human rights that this organisation was founded to defend. It is indefensible that a division of the UN does not pay sufficient attention to addressing policies that may cause breaches of human rights against people who produce, sell and buy illicit drugs. We, the International Network of People who Use Drugs, offer our hand in friendship and invite you to begin negotiations to bring to an end this failed war on drugs.'