Intervention on agenda item 4 – UNAIDS Unified Budget, Results and Accountability Framework
Delivered by Laurel Sprague, North America NGO Delegate
Following previous direction given by the PCB, the Joint Programme provides annual reporting on engagement with civil society. As civil society members of the PCB, we look forward eagerly to this information. It can be difficult to measure civil society engagement in a consistent way under current tracking systems for some co-sponsors. To attempt to get more precise information at the country and regional level, this year’s report takes a close look at how the Joint Programme works with civil society in three sites: Cambodia, Zambia, and the MENA region. We thank the Joint Programme Civil Society Engagement Working Group for this very important and useful report.
The report demonstrates the absolute necessity of civil society and networks of people living with HIV, young people, women, and key populations in the response across all sites. The report paints a compelling picture showing that efforts to increase HIV testing, to address persistent punitive legal environments, to shape domestic policies on trade and intellectual property, to ensure adherence to medication – alongside ensuring adequate nutrition — among others, are all reliant on collaboration with civil society organizations.
The discussion of challenges and gaps in this report are particularly welcome as these provide a roadmap for the work that remains to be done. Let me highlight four that call out for immediate attention:
- Civil society continues to work within contexts of ongoing human rights violations and without meaningful access to legal protections or justice – in fact, sometimes it is the state that perpetrates these violations.
- The presumption among policy makers that civil society members should provide services for free or low cost This is a particular concern as enthusiasm grows for “task shifting” to communities, which often shifts the responsibility solely to communities, and translates to exploiting women’s unpaid labor and the labor and capacity of key population groups.
- Ironically, sustainability for civil society as organizations are closing their doors for lack of funding in every region, and generally the first to close are organizations that support key and vulnerable populations and those most affected by HIV.
- Funding and technical support for local initiatives and autonomy for civil society organizations to do their work based on their local knowledge of needs, rather than focusing on predetermined government or donor priorities.
We echo the comment from Ambassador Birx earlier on the importance of putting the communities back to the centre of the response. This will only be possible if the Joint Programme sees us not only as beneficiaries, but as key partners in ending the AIDS epidemic.
Lastly, we look forward to seeing risk management strategies in October related to raising or not raising the needed added funds for the Fast Track strategy.