Global Health Centre

Research Café with Naomi Burke-Shyne

Naomi Burke-Shyne, Global Health Centre
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The Fab, petal 2 - 4th floor, Maison de la paix, Geneva Graduate Institute

Research presentation and coffee chat with Visiting Fellow Naomi Burke-Shyne

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The funding landscape for harm reduction – interrogating aid for the war on drugs and new funding solutions for services for people who use drugs

The criminalisation of drug possession and sale under the international drug control conventions formed the basis for a multi-decade political war on drugs. Punitive approaches to drug control have sidelined the needs of individuals and communities, justified the failure of states to provide services for the most vulnerable, and offer a rational for mass incarceration. This environment and violent rhetoric of the war on drugs influences attitudes towards drug use, and drives significant investment in policing, raids, surveillance and paramilitary operations. It estimated that USD 100 billion is spent annually on drug law enforcement.

In contrast, resource needs estimates, independent research, government data and case studies reveal a dearth of funding for care and services for people who use drugs at both national and global level. Four strategies are being tested to address this funding crisis: (1) optimise existing funding; (2) pave the way for funding from domestic government budgets; (3) maintain and expand international donor engagement; (4) explore bold new ideas.

Join our Research Café to learn more about this topic from our Visiting Fellow at the GHC, Naomi Burke-Shyne.

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Naomi is the Executive Director of Harm Reduction International and a Visiting Fellow of the Global Health Centre, Geneva Graduate Institute. She is an expert on harm reduction and drug policy, bringing two decades of international work experience at the intersection of law, HIV, human rights and public health.

Naomi previously worked for the Open Society Foundations, leading a portfolio of funding and policy engagement that supported civil society to challenge the negative impact of drug policy on access to controlled medicines, and strengthen access to justice for people who use drugs. Between 2009 and 2014, Naomi worked in a regional capacity for the HIV and Health Law Program at the International Development Law Organization (IDLO), posted in Indonesia, Nepal and Uganda. Naomi spent the first five years of her career practising law in Australia, in the private sector and as a pro bono legal adviser at community centres.

Naomi is a member of the Technical Review Panel of the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria; a member of the Strategic Coordination Group to the UN on HIV and Drug Use; and a member of the World Health Organization Guidelines Group on ‘Ensuring Balance in National Policies on Controlled Substances.’


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The Global Health Centre (GHC)



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