About Us

Harm Reduction International is a leading NGO dedicated to reducing the negative health, social and legal impacts of drug use and drug policy. We promote the rights of people who use drugs and their communities through research and advocacy to help achieve a world where drug policies and laws contribute to healthier, safer societies.

The organisation is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

Our Work

We work to ensure that lifesaving harm reduction interventions are adequately funded; to monitor gaps and progress globally in the availability of health and social services for people who use drugs; and, to ensure nobody’s rights are violated in the name of drug control. This work comes together at our biennial international conference, which is the main global forum for the exchange of information and best practice at the intersection of human rights, drug policy and harm reduction.

Strategic Plan 2018-2021

Harm Reduction International is committed to helping achieve a world in which individuals and communities benefit from drug policies, practices and laws that promote health, dignity and human rights.

The Strategic Plan 2018-2020, extended to 2021 by the HRI board in the context of COVID-19; pursues our mission through the following strategic objectives:

  • To build and share the evidence-base for harm reduction policies, practices and laws
  • To strengthen constituencies and build new allies to advocate for harm reduction and human rights
  • To increase political will to protect, respect and fulfil the human rights of vulnerable individuals and communities, by funding and implementing harm reduction

Governance and Reporting

Harm Reduction International is governed by a Board of Directors who are elected for a three-year term. HRI follows a Foundations Model of governance, in which the directors are also the members of the organisation. Board appointments are made by resolution of the Board itself.

Harm Reduction International is an international, not-for-profit NGO. It is a charitable company limited by guarantee, meaning it is incorporated and registered with the UK Charity Commission (Charity Number – 1117375) and at Companies House (Company number – 3223265).

A summary of our governance and activities can be found in the introduction to the most recent Audited Financial Accounts (below)

Annual Accounts

Harm Reduction International submits annual financial accounts as required under company law in England and Wales. Our accounts are prepared by Sayer Vincent.

Annual Report

Our annual reports document our growth and work at the intersection of drug policy, human rights and public health.

2021 Annual Report

2020 Annual Report

2019 Annual Report

Our Anti-Racist Pledge

Harm Reduction International recognises the racist, colonial and capitalist structures that determine the distribution of wealth and power globally, and the distinct relationship between racism, colonialism, global health and international drug control. This pledge is our commitment to anti-racist practice and the re-structuring of unequal racial power dynamics.

The aim of this pledge is to:

  1. set out an understanding of racism within HRI (including among staff, consultants and board members) and with HRI’s partner organisations;
  2. commit to incorporating anti-racism into all aspects of HRI’s work; and
  3. be accountable and create sustainable goals


Harm Reduction International traces its origins to the first International Conference on the Reduction of Drug-Related Harm, held in Liverpool, England in 1990. The city was one of the first to open needle exchanges, and attracted hundreds of visitors each year who wanted to learn about the 'Mersey Harm Reduction Model'.

The success of the first conference led to its establishment as an annual event held in major cities around the world. It helped to spread the principles behind harm reduction, share knowledge and experience, and build networks of harm reduction practitioners and activists to broaden the response to HIV and unsafe injecting practices. The conference became the primary international meeting and networking point for drug user activists and organisations.

In 1996, the International Harm Reduction Association (IHRA) was launched at the 7th international conference, initially to enable networking and communication between conferences, and facilitate collective advocacy for health-based approaches to drug use and HIV. Over the next few years, the profile of the conference grew, along with the increasing acceptance of harm reduction policies and practice around the world.

In 2006, the organisation expanded its activities beyond the annual conference to include strong programmes of work on public health research, and analysis on human rights. In 2011, 15 years after it was launched, the International Harm Reduction Association became Harm Reduction International.


HRI benefits from the generous support of the following:

  • Open Society Foundations
  • The Robert Carr Fund
  • Elton John AIDS Foundation
  • MAC AIDS Fund
  • The Swiss Confederation, Federal Office of Public Health

As well as partnership with the World Health Organization, UNAIDS and UNODC.

Annual Report 2021

HRI Annual Report 2021

Annual Report 2020

Annual Report 2020

Annual Report 2019

Annual Report 2019

© 2023 Harm Reduction International.

Charity number – 1117375 | Company number – 3223265