31st UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board Meeting
NGO Delegate for Europe
1.3 Report of the Executive Director (pdf)
Thank you, Chair, for giving me the floor, and thank you, Michel, for giving an overview of the progress and challenges in the global HIV response. I would like to address two points.
Along with the Chair and my fellow European NGO Delegate I was able to attend the informative field visit to Ukraine. The NGO Delegation would like to commend UNAIDS Country Office in Ukraine and the UNAIDS Secretariat for organizing a very informative and interesting field visit to Kiev.
The NGO Delegation would like to thank the Ukrainian Government for their hospitality and for generously making their staff available to us at the HIV service facilities that we visited.
We would also like to thank Ukrainian civil society for taking time to meet with the European NGO Delegates to let us learn about the experiences of drug users, sex workers, MSM and people working with street children. The meeting allowed us to get insights on the domestic AIDS response and to understand the barriers that exist for people living with and affected by HIV to access services.
The NGO Delegation commends Ukrainian civil society’s response to the passing of the first reading of the law banning homosexual propaganda as well as UNAIDS for responding rapidly and decisively to the law and its implications for the AIDS response.
The NGO Delegation is aware of the human rights challenges facing people who use drugs, sex workers and men who have sex with men, and stands in solidarity with civil society groups working to facilitate access to services and a more enabling environment for these and other key affected populations.
Secondly, I want to seek the assistance of Michel and this Board.
In December 2009, INPUD attended this Board as NGO Observers and we welcomed the constructive discussions about HIV prevention, treatment, care and support with people who inject drugs. This experience led us to commit substantial resources from an emerging global network to join this PCB and this experience has helped us forge new understanding, new relationships and a constructive engagement with divisions of the UN.
INPUD would particularly like to acknowledge our partnership with UNAIDS and WHO that has included opportunities to contribute to the development of new guidelines on TB, VH, and overdose, and our engagement in the development of each organization’s HIV strategies. In addition, we have been pleased to support the dialogue between PLHIV/key populations and faith based communities facilitated by EEAA and UNAIDS.
In all this work we have sought to be robust but constructive partners and alongside other civil society stakeholders, we have sought to play our role as community watch dogs and technical experts. The experience of meaningful participation is that as engagement takes place so trust forms, old suspicions and concerns ease, and healthy relationship evolve that can respect difference while focusing on opportunities for collaboration. Of course we have a way to go and we will seek to further develop this engagement but a solid foundation if forming.
Sadly our experience with UNODC, our lead Cosponsor, could not have been more different. In three years we have had only three opportunities for meaningful participation and the absence of any systematic form of engagement means that civil society has very limited knowledge of UNODC’s plans, activities and results. This inhibits meaningful participation and the community watch dog function. However, I am pleased to have met with UNODC yesterday and to have received commitments about our future relationship. We are grateful to UNAIDS staff for facilitating the dialogue with UNODC.
The World AIDS Day statement from the ED of UNODC, Mr. Fedotov, highlights the gross misalignment of UNODC from the global norms of the HIV response. When the ED of a lead Cosponsor cannot commit himself on World AIDS Day to the core HIV prevention interventions with people who inject drugs, we are in trouble. Pressing for male circumcision with people who inject drugs but not needle and syringe programmes (NST) and opiate substitution therapy (OST) is both incredible politically and lacks credibility scientifically. Despite the fact that the statement correctly says that UNODC wants to base the interventions on evidence, it is disturbing that he does not mention the key term ‘harm reduction’. And this is not just about prevention – all the evidence shows that OST provides a core platform for the delivery of ARVs and treatments for TB and Hep C. If UNODC cannot bring itself to embrace and champion the interventions that are central to the response with our community and moreover endorsed by this Board, Commission on Narcotic Drugs and WHO guidance then the growing calls for the lead for the HIV response among people who inject drugs to pass to another Cosponsor will only grow in intensity and legitimacy.
The work of UNAIDS and WHO highlights that the meaningful participation of people who use drugs and wider drugs civil society can be an asset that contributes to the development of a respectful and purposeful engagement. We call on UNAIDS and this Board to help us address the dislocation of civil society from the work of UNODC and for the endorsement of core strategies by UNODC.