Research consultancy

We are looking for an experienced policy researcher to build on our research and draft a policy report on international funding for punitive drug law enforcement programmes. Familiarity with drug policy and international funding structures, along with excellent writing skills are essential.


Founded in 1996, Harm Reduction International (HRI) 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.  We provide tools, strategic analysis, and evidence to support advocacy for the adequate funding of harm reduction. We track harm reduction funding trends globally – including support provided by international donors and domestic governments – and the impact these have on HIV and other health responses. We support advocacy for increased investment in harm reduction, including campaigning for the redirection of funding from ineffective drug law enforcement to harm reduction and work with national partners to gather evidence to inform budget advocacy.

Punitive drug control upholds racist and colonial structures as prominent global powers exert influence over drug policy in low- and middle-income (LMI) countries via funding flows, the provision of resources and technical assistance and the promotion of a prohibitionist moral consensus. Wealthy donor countries direct millions of dollars every year into drug control regimes and related law enforcement in LMI countries. This can take the form of bilateral aid or grants via international organisations like the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Decolonising drug policy requires the colonial systems and related funding flows that influence drug policy in LMI countries to be exposed and challenged.

The vast sums channelled into punitive drug law enforcement perpetuate human rights abuses and impede health responses, as well as having broader implications for development and climate justice. It is also completely out of step with the Global AIDS Strategy emphasis on decriminalisation with the 10-10-10 targets to repeal of punitive laws and policies that target key populations and to implement supportive laws and policies that combat stigma, discrimination, and gender-based violence. Redirecting a small proportion of this international funding from ineffective and harmful drug law enforcement to health could begin to address the 95% funding gap for harm reduction in LMI countries.

HRI has conducted research into international drug policy funding flows and decolonising drug policy which we are now seeking a consultant to build upon this to produce a report on international funding for punitive drug law enforcement programmes. The document will serve as the solid evidence base to inform HRI advocacy and campaigning for the redirection of funds from punitive drug law enforcement to health and harm reduction. A background in harm reduction and drug policy, an understanding of international funding structures and decolonising work, as well as experience in writing evidence-based reports is necessary.

The task

The consultant will:

  • Review HRI’s research on punitive drug policy funding flows and decolonizing drug policy alongside other relevant literature
  • Develop succinct report to highlight funding flows (financial, material and technical assistance) for punitive drug control from wealthy, powerful countries and their influence on drug policy in LMI countries.
  • Conduct additional analysis to create the key trend in punitive drug control funding, financial data from top donors and some comparative analysis. This should also include funding managed by the intermediary organizations, say UN, multi-lateral donors on behalf of the donor countries to implement the punitive drug control.


The consultant will be required to submit the following:

  • A 15-20 pages report exposing and challenging international funding flows (financial, material and technical assistance) for punitive drug control in LMI countries, including tables on financial data and trends.

The report will be reviewed by HRI staff and external reviewers and the consultant is required to incorporate input and feedback to the submitted report.

Timeline and terms

The assignment is expected to take around 6-8 days and the work should be conducted in December 2022/January 2023. The available fee is USD 2,750.

Please send your CV and cover letter to hiring@hri.global by midnight on 5th December 2022 to apply.

anti-racist pledge

We encourage applications from all qualified candidates, including people who use drugs and people living with HIV.

We are committed to being actively anti-racist.

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