32nd UNAIDS PCB Meeting NGO Delegation Communiqué
Priority agenda items at the 32ndBoard meeting included AIDS in the Post 2015 Development Agenda, the UNAIDS United Budget, Accountability and Results Framework (UBRAF), the Executive Director’s report, and follow-up to the Non-Discrimination Thematic presented at the 31st PCB.
The Delegation’s strong engagement and advocacy around the Post 2015 Development agenda was evident in its interventions. The Delegation maintains a clear position that UNAIDS must play a stronger leadership role if it is to ensure both that HIV and AIDS are identified as priorities in the Post-2015 Agenda and also that the ‘business’ of addressing the global pandemic is far from over. The Delegation, in discussion with allies on the PCB, fought hard to have language on human rights, evidence-informed and gender equity included in the Decision Points resulting from the Post-2015 Agenda. The Delegation was disappointed to see once again that a limited number of member states act recalcitrantly in their refusal to adopt this approach, blocking adoption of more progressive language in the PCB.
The Delegation is now represented on the Lancet Commission and will use this platform as an opportunity to reiterate and emphasize human rights, gender, and structural interventions to address social drivers as fundamental to HIV and AIDS responses within the Post-2015 context.
In PCB discussion on the performance and financial reporting under UBRAF, the NGO Delegation stressed the need to re-assess and revise Civil Society (CS) related indicators. Having actively participated in the development of the UBRAF, the Delegation remains concerned that the current CS indicators are without the rigor required to effectively measure meaningful engagement and support for CS. In meetings just prior to the PCB, the UNAIDS Secretariat agreed to a proposal made by the Delegation to engage a specialist to review and revise these indicators.
The Delegation raised serious concerns about UBRAF funding with respect to the EECA, MENA and the Caribbean regions. As sites of rapidly escalating epidemics, the Delegation argued that they must remain priorities for funding and UNAIDS support. At the same time, PCB Members were asked to recall the Decision Points approved at the 30th PCB in response to the NGO Delegation’s report on HIV Financing, and reminded that funding for CS generally and broadly remains in decline, a situation that must be resolved if we are to effectively respond to the HIV and AIDS pandemic
The Delegation has continued to lobby for the inclusion of Decision Points for Thematic Sessions. The follow up session on the Non-Discrimination Thematic (31st PCB) provided an opportunity for the Delegation to move this agenda forward by proposing a Decision Point to ensure all Thematic Sessions return to the next PCB for discussion on required action. While this Decision Point was not adopted, the Delegation will continue its advocacy with Member States and via the Bureau in the lead up to the next PCB.
Over the next six months, and in preparation for the 33rd PCB in December 2013, the Delegation will focus on the Post-2015 Agenda, the upcoming Thematic on Youth, assessment of current CS indicators within UBRAF, and preparation of its NGO report which theme is under discussion now. The delegation will be recruiting four new members over this period also with nominations now being sought for representatives from Africa, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Asia-Pacific.
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 continuation of the thematic session.
The Delegation maintained its vocal and persistent commitment to human rights as a critical element to all responses to HIV. Responding to the Executive Director’s report, the Delegation noted the continuing silence of the Joint Programme and Co-Sponsors on legislative reforms in Nigeria and Russia which will undermine the right of LGBTI communities to access health and other services. The current environment in Brazil, where regressive policies put the successful HIV response in that country at risk, was also highlighted as a situation which required urgent response from UNAIDS and others. In order to ensure that UNAIDS activities in EECA, the region where the human rights of key populations are often violated, are performed with respect to human rights and according to the highest international health standards, the Delegation proposed to organize oversight committees which would include PLHIV and other key populations and would monitor UNAIDS Programmes and advise on potential improvements.
The NGO Delegation again raised the issue of Decision Points being proposed as the outcome of Thematic Day sessions held annually at the December PCB. This issue was raised at the 31st PCB meeting where it was decided that Thematic Days were primarily for information gathering and sharing, with the ‘potential’ of Decision Points considered on a ‘case-by-case’ basis. The Delegation disagrees with this position and maintains that Decision Points must be associated with all Thematic Sessions.
The NGO Delegation believes that the absence of Decision Points is a wasted opportunity and is concerned that there remains no criteria or process through which to determine a ‘case-by-case’ approach, that is, by who and how cases would be determined. Could it mean that, when the topic was too difficult and likely to actually be more significant, Decision Points would not be allowed as it would be too difficult to reach consensus?
The Delegation also voiced its concern at the loss of valuable input from members of the Thematic Working Group in the development and writing of Thematic Day reports. In the past, Thematic Working Group members contributed to these reports but this has recently changed with the UNAIDS Secretariat now taking sole responsibility for finalization of the report.
The Delegation proposed a Decision Point which would have ensured that the Thematic Day topic would automatically become a standing item at the following PCB meeting so as to enable action and possible Decision Points. This Decision Point was not accepted but instead it was proposed that the Bureau continue discussion on these matters in the hope that resolution will be achieved at the December PCB.
The main mechanism for translating the UNAIDS Strategy into action is the Unified Budget, Results and Accountability Framework 2012-2015 (UBRAF) which has completed its first year. It is an instrument for planning, budgeting, measuring and monitoring the contribution of the UN towards 2015 global AIDS targets. It includes a core budget for the UNAIDS Joint Programme which aims at leveraging Cosponsors’ own and other resources beyond the core UBRAF funding which itself only represents a fraction of the total UN funding on HIV.[i] The Delegation and all states and Cosponsors agreed that UBRAF is a huge step in the right direction towards transparency and accountability. The Delegation did express concern, however, about the flat lining of the core UBRAF budget for a further two years, representing a decrease in real terms.
The mid-term review of UBRAF will occur in 2014 and this will be an opportunity to address a key concern of the Delegation about indicators. There are currently 123 indicators and, apart from believing these are far too many, the Delegation also believes they do not really measure what we need to know. It is generally accepted that the indicators need to be reduced and the Delegation supported this on condition that the quality of the indicators be improved, with clear baselines, and specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound targets that meet MERG indicator standards.
The Delegation is already working with UNAIDS on CS indicators. Of the 11 CS-specific indicators within the current UBRAF, the Delegation’s view is that none are entirely adequate in effectively measuring and assessing the UN’s role in strengthening CS engagement in HIV responses. Following significant advocacy from the Delegation, the UNAIDS Secretariat has now agreed that an independent expert will be engaged to work on the development of higher quality but fewer CS indicators over the next three months.
The Delegation commended the reorganization and re-launch of the Global Coalition on Women and AIDS as a marked improvement in investment in women and girls. In speaking to this topic, the Delegation acknowledged and supported a call from the Australian block to expand data disaggregation by sex and to continue investments in women and girls (with specific and targeted approaches to meet their needs) to ensure rapid progress of the Accelerated Agenda for Women and Girls
The UNAIDS Post-2015 Discussion Paper presented at the 32ndPCB clearly outlined the significant potential risks to the global response if the visibility of HIV and AIDS is weakened in the Post-2015 Development Framework. The Delegation could not agree more and remains resolute in its belief that HIV and AIDS continue as urgent global threats to health, sustainable development and human rights.
In speaking to the discussion paper at the 32nd PCB, the NGO Delegation expressed strong concern that HIV currently has limited visibility in key Post-2015 documents, including the eleven thematic outcomes in the High Level Panel report. As a further example, the Delegation expressed its alarm that the recent report from the Open Working Group meeting on Health (held 17-19 June) omitted mention of HIV altogether.
In her keynote address to the PCB, Amina Mohamed, Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General on Post-2015 Development Planning, made clear that UN people outside the “AIDS field” are not aware that AIDS remains a priority; she noted that the messages they receive mainly indicate AIDS is a “case of success” among the MDGs. She appeared surprised that we risk losing the gains made so far if support for the global AIDS response is weakened at this point. In responding to our request to have HIV kept in the Post-2015 Framework as a strong priority, she thanked the delegation for raising the issue and we are now following the theme directly with her and with the Secretary General’s UN office in New York.
During the 32nd PCB, the Delegation formally requested UNAIDS to develop a clear strategy for the Post-2015 agenda focussed on two primary areas:
- Strengthening and accelerating efforts so as to achieve the current MDGs.
- Ensuring HIV remains a priority within the Post-2015 agenda, and particularly ensuring synergy with HIV across other development areas and sectors beyond health.
The Delegation made clear that a lack of such focus will undoubtedly result in losses for HIV in prevention, in the reduction of incidence, in the ability to sustain progress, and in ensuring the quality of life and health outcomes of people living with HIV.
Reminder: What is the PCB again?
The Programme Coordinating Board (PCB) is the governing body of UNAIDS. It is made up of 22 voting Member States, the 11 UN Cosponsors that make up the UNAIDS program, and an NGO Delegation (consisting of one delegate and one alternate from each of 5 regions). Please visit our website at: www.unaidspcbngo.org to see all presentations, decision points and talking points. If you are not already a subscriber, please join our mailing list.
[i] While the majority of the UBRAF core budget is allocated to UNAIDS secretariat costs it also includes some allocation to the 11 Co-sponsor organisations that make up the Joint Programme.