Thank you, Madame Chair, and thank you to the Executive Director for his customarily frank report. We agree with the Member States that the Executive Directors report provides a comprehensive picture of the current context and includes a strong call to action.
In particular, the NGO Delegation shares the concerns expressed by the Executive Director and various Member States related to the funding environment and the current crisis at the Global Fund. We are gravely disappointed, that barely six months after the groundbreaking commitments and clear targets set in the 2011 Political Declaration, we find ourselves in an environment of uncertainty, following the announcement by the Global Fund board to cancel the next round of funding and exclude numerous countries from benefitting from the Transformational Funding Mechanism because several donor countries have failed to deliver on their funding commitments. The fulfillment of this board’s vision of the Three Zeros is now under serious threat.
Madame Chair, in this time of financial austerity, we need to recognize the significant contribution of the Global Fund to the massive gains in the HIV response over the past decade and the value for money illustrated by the number of deaths and new infections averted.
We are finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel with new scientific evidence that can turn the tide of HIV infections. The positive impact of antiretroviral treatment in reducing viral load and infectivity is a powerful compliment to the range of other validated HIV prevention strategies, such as needle exchange programmes and opioid substitution therapy for people who inject drugs. We also commend the political leadership and commitment illustrated by many governments, willing to address the social determinants and underlying causes of vulnerability, including gender inequality and human rights. Therefore, we were very encouraged by the news that the Global Fund board adopted the new Strategy, which builds on the commitments of the June 2011 Political Declaration and place a greater emphasis on human rights in the HIV response. Now is not the time to give up on HIV.
We also agree with you that indeed, it is time for a new development paradigm and commend the countries in the global South, and in particular in Africa and Latin America, who are taking steps towards contributing their fair share to their HIV responses. We recognize that donor countries are beginning to make links between human rights and international development assistance. However, while the NGO Delegation welcomes the noble intentions of approaches that incentivise progress towards increased protection of human rights, we caution against funding conditionality in this context. In attempting to sanction recipient governments for their poor human rights records, donor countries potentially risk exacerbating the context for those they seek to protect.
The Executive Director has highlighted the potential of the Investment Framework to financially model the turning of the HIV epidemic and making a level of investment that will prevent the ever growing bill for the treatment of an ever enlarging pool of people living with HIV. In the current scenario of resource constraints, we welcome the exploration of innovative funding mechanisms that are endorsed by civil society such as the Financial Transaction Tax. We need to ensure that this model continues to be recognised as a work in progress that needs further testing and refining with partners, including civil society, in order for this model to become the influential investment model that it has the potential to become.
We – people living with HIV, key populations at higher risk of HIV, communities affected by HIV and civil society – are looking to UNAIDS to exert strong leadership with global donors to honour their commitments as enshrined in various political commitments, including to fully fund the Global Fund beyond the twenty focus countries. We appreciate the call from the United Kingdom, China, the United States and other Members States to donor countries to honour their commitments to fully fund the Global Fund.
In particular, we call on the UNAIDS Secretariat to support efforts to raise an additional $2 billion for the Global Fund, possibly by hosting an emergency donor meeting in advance of the International AIDS Conference in 2012. As a parallel strategy, as indicated by Sweden, Poland and Canada, we also call on UNAIDS to sensitize country teams to the process of Global Funds cuts, the Transformational Funding Mechanism or the need to re-strategize in the light of the loss of Round 11. This is precisely the time to engage civil society, so that the true implications of cuts or constrained strategies can be based on sound evidence of where the needs are and what interventions have the greatest impact, ensuring that prevention is not sacrificed for treatment and that the consequences of Global Fund historic investment in the most affected and most marginalized are not lost in the postponement of Round 11.
The undermining of the world’s largest donor on HIV is a catastrophic loss that is likely to affect those most vulnerable to HIV, particularly women, key populations at higher risk of HIV such as sex workers, people using drugs and transgender persons, who we know are the populations which are most marginalized and receive the least attention. Again, we are closer to realising the vision of the Three Zeros than we may realize. Now is not the time to give up on HIV.