Director / International Human Rights Programme


Adrian Arena started the International Human Rights Programme on joining the Oak Foundation as a Programme Officer in February 2003. In its first year of operation, the programme had an annual budget of USD 2 million and largely focussed on supporting international NGOs. Since then, it has expanded to a programme with seven staff and an annual budget of around USD 20 million, operating in diverse geographies with both local and international organisations.


Prior to joining Oak Foundation, Adrian spent three years as Deputy Secretary General of the International Commission of Jurists, a Geneva-based organisation that promotes the global rule of law with a particular emphasis on the independence of the judiciary. Here he was responsible for management and fundraising and learned first hand the challenges of being a grant seeker.


Adrian began his career in the Australian Foreign Service serving as a diplomat at the Australian Embassies in Tehran, Stockholm and Rome. He undertook a range of responsibilities including political and economic reporting, representation and immigration work.


A fluent Italian and French speaker who has also studied Farsi and Indonesian, Adrian holds a degree in Arts/Law from the University of Sydney. He is a keen cyclist.



Our mission

Oak Foundation commits its resources to address issues of global, social and environmental concern, particularly those that have a major impact on the lives of the disadvantaged. With offices in Europe, Africa, India and North America, we make grants to organisations in approximately 40 countries worldwide.


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