31st UNAIDS PCB Meeting NGO Delegation Communiqué
The 31st board meeting agenda covered themes of civil society participation, investment in the HIV response and the issues of gender and non-discrimination. Discussions on the post-2015 agenda were also prominent with UNAIDS committing to engage further in the global conversation.
The NGO Delegation’s role and value at the PCB was front and centre at this meeting with a comprehensive review of its development over the past five years. Despite the disapproval voiced by a few conservative Member States of the interventions and proposals of decision points from the NGO Delegation, the majority of Member States spoke up to support the Delegation’s important contribution to discussions at the PCB, the success of its work and its watchdog role.
The Delegation clearly demonstrated their value for civil society in this board meeting: in the Gender item, it added language for “women from key populations” and “women’s rights and health organizations” and secured UNAIDS to report on the implementation of recommendations from the mid-term review; under Strategic Investment, the Delegation lobbied for and gained reporting on UNAIDS’ technical support; and it pushed for, but did not obtain, the promotion of investments in new prevention technologies and clear recognition for the use of existing prevention technologies.
Over the next six months, the Delegation will focus on follow-up to decisions from the June 2012 NGO report on the HIV funding crisis, the post-2015 agenda, pursuing UNAIDS for a report on technical support and understanding UNAIDS linkages with the Global Fund and its new funding mechanism. The Delegation is concerned about the potential loss of decision points that arise from the Board’s thematic sessions. As a place where controversial issues can be discussed and highlighted, there is pressure to diminish the sessions’ influence on Board actions due to the normative nature of some themes. The Delegation will continue to clarify this issue within the Bureau.
NGO Observers who attend and intervene in the board meeting are a vital part of reminding the board of all the persons who are implicated in its work. Their presence also strengthens the work and accountability of the NGO Delegates.
THANK YOU to the civil society Observers and organizations who supported the NGO Delegation. Thank you also to all civil society partners who contributed to preparatory briefing calls and supported the development of the thematic session.
Report from the Executive Director: Unprecedented progress, but AIDS is not over
The Executive Director’s (ED) report focused significantly on both investment and AIDS in the post-2015 agenda. The Delegation had lobbied over the past year for UNAIDS to take a stronger leadership role in prioritizing HIV in future goals and welcomed the recent initiative of UNAIDS to engage in the ongoing review of the MDGs as it is concerned that the global AIDS response is being de-prioritized in terms of both political commitment and as a donor priority. The Delegation agrees with the ED that the AIDS response can serve as a test case for what is feasible in a framework of global solidarity and shared responsibility, but that UNAIDS and the wider AIDS community needs to mobilize more to bring forward this case within the post-2015 framework.
For several months, the Delegation has advocated for the findings of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law to be incorporated into the work of the PCB and was pleased to hear the ED’s request for indicators to monitor progress on the implementation of the Commission’s recommendations. The Delegation also worked with drugs NGOs to highlight the continuing barriers to civil society’s meaningful participation with UNAIDS Cosponsor UNODC and its ED’s hesitancy in endorsing harm reduction in his World AIDS Day statement.
Delegates noted their appreciation for the ED’s call for further funding of the Robert Carr Civil Society Networks Fund as a mechanism to support programmes for hard to reach populations but stressed that much fund is still needed. Forgotten in the speech was a call for the creation and use of the Financial Transaction Tax which the NGO Delegation continues to advocate UNAIDS to support as part of its long-term sustainable financial goals.
The Delegation also urged UNAIDS to pay more attention to middle-income countries’ response to HIV. Following up to the CrowdOutAIDS initiative, the Delegation requested UNAIDS to translate the recommendations into actions. Finally, the European NGO Delegates welcomed the informative board site visit to Ukraine and commended HIV civil society and UNAIDS for their quick and clear response to the anti-homosexual propaganda law that was presented in Ukraine’s parliament just before the visit.
Leadership in the AIDS Response
Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief of the Lancet, presented the launch of the UNAIDS/Lancet Post-2015 Commission on the End of AIDS expressing that it will be a vehicle for informing the UN post-2015 health and development goals. Civil society will want to both inform and monitor the Commission process to ensure that it is formally integrated in the post-2015 processes, that it includes civil society representation and that AIDS will be an important goal within the new framework.
Gender-Sensitivity of AIDS Responses (pdf)
Negotiations on the gender item were long and laboured due to conservative Member States’ attempts to suppress decision points calling for “gender transformative” responses, sexual rights and funding of networks of women from key populations. Ultimately, those items were secured along with decision points calling for increased coordination and funding, reallocation of funds, additional resource mobilization and implementation of all recommendations in the report.
Strategic Investment (SIF) (pdf)
Once again, the Delegation highlighted the importance of coordination of and a human rights-based approach to the SIF. It requested UNAIDS to play a key role in country-led dialogues and to undertake strategic advocacy to ensure broad participation of all civil society, particularly key populations, in all 4-step investment processes. The Delegation’s key demands included greater emphasis on the recognition of critical enablers as high funding priorities and inclusion of the gender dimension within the framework, civil society roles and the role of community mobilization in various contexts. The intervention by the Global Network of Sex Work Projects on Cambodia’s programme of indefinite detention of sex workers as an HIV prevention strategy underscored that the implementation of the SIF must at all times be inherently a rights-based process.
As the SIF will be used to implement the Global Fund’s new funding mechanism, the NGO Delegation was eager to receive the delayed findings from the October SIF consultation in Bangkok; the report is now available on our website.
Combination Prevention: Follow-up to the thematic segment from the 30th meeting (pdf)
The Delegation emphasized the need to fully implement and make accessible the evidence-supported prevention technologies that already exist, such as male and female condoms, lubricants and needle exchange and to support research and access to new preventive technologies, such as microbicides and vaccines. However, the Delegation stressed that neither behavior change programmes nor a complete set of biomedical tools will end AIDS without access to hope for a future with dignity, respect of human rights and opportunity.
Review of NGO/Civil Society participation in the PCB (pdf)
The last independent review of the NGO Delegation and wider civil society participation at the PCB was presented at the June 2007 board meeting. This 5-year follow-up highlighted the inclusion of civil society as “an important principle and valued asset” of the PCB and how the Delegation has contributed successfully to the overall strategic, administrative and accountability frameworks of UNAIDS. The NGO Delegation reaffirmed its role to represent diverse constituencies and also its need to continue to develop its outreach, along with the support of the Communications Facility. Decision points reiterated again the call for overall strengthening of collaboration with the NGO Delegation and for Member States to involve civil society representatives on their delegations and in consultations around board meetings.
Monitoring and Evaluation Reference Group (MERG) (pdf)
The Delegation approved of the MERG’s new priorities and its focus on civil society and key affected populations and offered support in its ongoing task of refining and strengthening indicators for civil society engagement in partnership with the Cosponsors’ Evaluation Work Group (CEWG). The Delegation has since been invited to a meeting in March 2013 focused on preparing the first report back on Unified Budget, Results and Accountability Framework (UBRAF) indicators. Appointed Delegates will continue to emphasize the importance of collecting data that paints a clearer picture of how UNAIDS and Cosponsors include civil society in their work to achieve the goals and objectives as laid out in the UNAIDS Strategic Plan.
Thematic Segment: Non-Discrimination (pdf)
This thematic session offered an opportunity to learn from global responses to discrimination ranging from legal remedies, youth programming and sensitization campaigns. Throughout all examples, it was clear that both community involvement and stable funding were essential to sustain and scale-up interventions to address and prevent non-discrimination. With the increasing conservative environment, UNAIDS and other entities must continue to push for legal reform, human rights and interventions to halt all forms of discrimination. While thematic speakers weighted heavily towards participating government spokespeople, civil society observers and members of the UNAIDS Reference Group on HIV and Human Rights provided the most profound and passionate examples.
Two publications were launched during the board meeting: the WHO “Prevention and treatment of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections for sex workers in low- and middle-income countries” and UNAIDS “Women out loud: How women living with HIV will help the world end AIDS”. NGO Delegates supported the creation of Women out loud and are committed to incorporating the concerns of women living with HIV in the UBRAF.