Adrian Arena


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.  Over the past 10 years it has expanded to a programme with six 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 learnt 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 currently serves on the Board of Ariadne (the European Human Rights Funders Network) and the Open Society Institute Human Rights and Governance Programme (Budapest). He is a keen cyclist.