The NGO Delegation’s 28th PCB Meeting Report is now available.
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What happened at the 28th meeting of the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board (PCB) in Geneva, Switzerland, June 21-23, 2011?
Before the customary moment of silence that opens each meeting, George Ayala (NGO Alternate Delegate from North America) spoke to the memory of friend and former delegate Robert Carr.
The main focus of this board meeting was the Unified Budget, Results and Accountability Framework (UBRAF), which was passed by the board. The UBRAF is the new UNAIDS budget, which aims to include a simplified accountability and monitoring framework, showing how the Secretariat and Cosponsors carry out the agreed UNAIDS strategy at the global, regional and country levels. The UBRAF will be the place to monitor all areas of work, so it is very important that it is clear and complete, and that indicators are appropriate to measure results. Civil society will need to look for opportunities to participate in the revision of indicators and the development of work plans to finalize the UBRAF over the next six months.
In the development of the UBRAF, one of the NGO Delegation’s goals was to make sure that funding to civil society could be shown more clearly. The advocacy of the Delegation in the budget subcommittee and then in meetings with Cosponsors and the Executive Director, led to a decision point in this board meeting to make funding to civil society more explicit. This means that the Secretariat and UN Cosponsoring agencies will now show what money goes to support civil society; this is an important step in recognizing civil society as equal partners in the HIV response. Now the NGO Delegation and civil society will follow up by working with UNAIDS to try to develop a minimum standard for civil society engagement.
However, a consistent and measurable way of working with civil society across all the Cosponsors and Secretariat has not been developed, despite a recommendation in 2009 from the Second Independent Evaluation of UNAIDS and the recognition of partnership with civil society in UNAIDS’ Strategy. The NGO Delegation raised this issue in all of its pre-meetings with board members and during the board meeting, requesting to complete this important work. As a result, there is now an agreement to do so by the December 2011 board meeting.
This meeting followed the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on HIV and AIDS High Level Meeting (HLM) in New York, in which several Member States insisted on the inclusion of a paragraph regarding state sovereignty and cultural relativity in the outcomes document. In the UNAIDS board meeting, Egypt attempted to build on this issue and pushed for its recognition in the UBRAF. This would have meant the weakening of the UNAIDS Strategy and the UBRAF, as Member States could invoke the excuse of state sovereignty in order not to address populations whom they do not recognize, such as men who have sex with men, people who use drugs, and sex workers. Reference to the political outcomes document from the HLM was agreed by all board members, but Egypt met with overwhelming opposition to make it the key reference and eventually withdrew its insistence. The important political dynamic here was how some African Member States, originally all following Egypt, separated themselves from Egypt and exerted their own leadership.
Executive Director Michel Sidibé gave his annual report, entitled “A Game Changing Moment,” in which he talked about where we are after the HLM in the AIDS response.
The NGO Delegation expressed its concern at some of the limitations in the outcomes document agreed at the HLM. As well, they noted advances:
- The naming of key populations – men who have sex with men, sex workers and people who inject drugs
- The naming of vulnerable populations such as migrants and prisoners
- The acknowledgement of human rights as a central component of the global HIV response
- The recognition of the need to challenge stigma and discrimination in order to combat HIV
- The setting of a clear target of 15 million on ARV treatment by 2015
- The explicit endorsement of harm reduction and global target to reduce transmission of HIV among people who inject drugs by 50 per cent by 2015
The NGO Delegation also called for an explanation of future HIV reporting. While it is clear that HIV reporting will continue to be annual, global reporting will be linked to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The Delegation has not had clear feedback as to what happens after 2015 and if there will be global reviews specific to HIV. This is an area of advocacy for all of us in the coming months.
The Executive Director expressed support for country ownership, but the NGO Delegation encouraged much stronger commitment to pursue HIV financing in World Bank-classified “low and middle income countries”. While Sidibй talked about scaling up prevention and the new investments being made in this area, the NGO Delegation requested more information about the Prevention Commission.
The NGO Delegation welcomed remarks on increasing involvement of women living with HIV and the push to invest in women as agents of change. As well, the Delegation highlighted his recognition of the Human Rights Council Resolution on Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity. And, as explained above, the Delegation especially welcomed the Executive Director’s call for “budget lines for use in funding civil society with indicators to judge progress” in the UBRAF.
Read the Delegation’s board intervention on the report.
The NGO Delegation welcomed the new reporting format that shows an increased breakdown of spending and reports from individual organizations, even though the reports remain vague in areas of support to civil society. In response to its meeting with the Cosponsors before the PCB, the Delegation referenced the importance of a partnership strategy and minimum standards of engagement.
Read the Delegation’s intervention to the Cosponsors report.
Follow up to the thematic session: Food and nutrition security and HIV: how to ensure food and nutrition security are integral parts of HIV programming
The NGO Delegation participated in the working group to develop activities and decision points following last December’s thematic session. Civil society developed a decision point to mandate UNAIDS to work to address underlying causes of vulnerability, by further integrating its work around human rights, food and HIV programming within social protection schemes. The Delegation remains concerned that all recommended follow up activities can be costed and monitored as part of the new UBRAF process. The World Food Programme will lead on most of the nutrition-related work but will need to work with the World Bank, UNICEF and civil society to carry out work around social protection.
Read the Delegation’s intervention on the thematic session.
A second report-back was given to the board on the implementation of the Agenda for Accelerated Country Action for Women, Girls, Gender Equality and HIV. This report was based on feedback from 81 participating countries around a scorecard for the agenda. It clearly showed a lack of full implementation of the agenda due to funding, as well as a lack of participation of women living with HIV in country level planning and decision-making, and inadequate data and national funding.
While the monitoring will be linked to the UBRAF, the board agreed that a separate mid-term review of the Agenda in 2012 is needed. With recognition that the Agenda has never been fully funded and that its funding is ending, there were repeated echoes by Member States to governments and donors that women and girls are a priority area, and we need greater investment in women and girls, inclusive of women living with HIV, to ensure that the Agenda for Women and Girls activities are fully implemented.
Read the Delegation’s intervention on the gender-sensitivity report.
Over the last two years, there has been a push from African Member States for more support to better participate on the board. The original proposal was to provide support to the group with a full time position based in UNAIDS Geneva. This latest board agreed to have the already present UNAIDS Regional Support Advisors (RSAs – there are three for Africa) give more support. The NGO Delegation noted that the concerns of the Africa group around timely documentation and translation reflect their own concerns and agreed that the group needs more support. The NGO Delegation was disappointed with the downgrading of potential support from a dedicated person to RSAs due to financial reasons and will work to support the Africa group as needed. It is in the interest of civil society to have strong African Member States, as the consensus way of working allows for more conservative member states to be more influential, as they are better prepared.
Read the Delegation’s intervention on African support mechanisms.
The UBRAF was passed, but the board agreed that more work is needed to simplify the tool and strengthen indicators in the results and accountability framework. Therefore, the board requested a consultative process to address these weaknesses. The Secretariat will propose a way to do this over the next six months, and civil society will be included.
In this agenda item, the NGO Delegation put forward and the board passed a decision point to ensure that reporting on resources to civil society is clearer.
The next PCB will be held in Geneva from December 13-15, 2011, where the NGO Delegation will present its annual report and the thematic session will look at HIV and the law.
The board agreed that the thematic session of the 30th PCB will be “Combination prevention: Addressing the urgent need to reinvigorate HIV prevention responses globally by scaling up and achieving synergies to halt and begin to reverse the spread of the AIDS epidemic (June 5-7 2012).
Lunch time sessions during the PCB
Co-chairs of the International Advisory Group (IAG) on Universal Access to HIV Prevention, Treatment, Care and Support organized a lunchtime discussion to explain the IAG and its value in the future. A PCB NGO delegate spoke on how civil society used the IAG consensus statement in preparations for the HLM, but noted that the group was convened too close to the HLM to have great impact. However, the group could be a valuable resource further monitor progress towards universal access, with a focus on delivery and accountability.
One lunchtime session addressed the High Level Meeting and its outcomes. An NGO Delegate spoke about challenges remaining: the reluctance by some countries to rights-based language and also the lack of definition of follow up mechanisms. A civil society declaration from Latin America and the Caribbean has clearly called for a mid-term review of the progress in 2013 and an evaluation in a high-level meeting in 2016.
The World Health Organization held a side event to launch the first ever guidelines on the prevention and treatment of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections for men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender people. Developed in consultation with key stakeholders and civil society around the globe, the guidelines assess the effectiveness of available interventions and emphasize the importance of a human rights approach to healthcare for these populations.
UNAIDS and UNODC hosted a lunchtime session on “Women who inject drugs: A review of their risks, experiences and needs”. The panel discussed work with female drug users in South Asia and showed good practices of HIV prevention, treatment and care services to female drug users (including those involved in sex work and partners of male drug users) in the community and in prison settings that can be replicated in other countries.