Viewpoints on the Global Review Panel (GRP) Recommendations on Governance
Jeffry P. Acaba, Asia Pacific delegate
I was requested by Co-Chairs Ambassador Lennarth Hjelmåker of Sweden and Health Minister Awa Coll-Seck of the Republic of Senegal to present the recommendations of the Global Review Panel (GRP) on the third pillar, which is on Governance, at the multi-stakeholder consultation that happened on April 28, 2017. The details of my presentation below included insights on these recommendations, based on the consultations that we conducted with colleagues from civil society and community networks, and feedback from Member States present at the multi-stakeholder consultation.
- Enhancing Oversight by UNAIDS Board of global efforts to Fast-Track and end AIDS
In 2015 and in 2016, UNAIDS PCB and the UN General Assembly made two historic decisions: the UNAIDS Strategy 2016-2021 and the 2016 Political Declaration on Ending AIDS. These two documents set the scene on how we can end the AIDS epidemic by 2030, if we are to achieve our Fast Track targets by 2020. Doing so would need a strengthened approach in monitoring our progress and looking at the broader response as a whole. However, the Panel found that at the PCB, members spend considerable time reviewing progress through the Unified Budget, Results Accountability Framework (UBRAF). While this is helpful for the Joint Programme, this only covers 13% of the entire global AIDS response. If we see the Joint Programme as the global authority of the AIDS response, it needs to take responsibility and devote a significant time looking at the progress of the Joint Programme from the broader Political Declaration and the UNAIDS Strategy targets as a whole. This would mean taking into consideration reviewing the non-core funds and how it contributes to meeting our global targets, highlighting the joint work of different Cosponsors and the Secretariat.
Conducting a broader monitoring exercise at the PCB can be cumbersome, according to some Member States, given that there is so much agenda on the table that are more important to discuss.
- Working towards shared multi-stakeholder, multi-sectoral platforms at country level for monitoring and review of the response
This recommendation underlines the importance of making sure that the intersectoral approach of UNAIDS Governance is reflected at the country level. We can build on the ongoing Global AIDS Monitoring (GAM) process that reflects the 10 Fast Track commitments set forth in the Political Declaration; however, doing so would need harmonization of reporting instruments – which includes national instruments and national indicators, as well as donor reporting indicators including that of the Global Fund. At the same time, we need to ensure that different sectors are able to participate and engage in monitoring and accountability of the Joint Programme. There has been a proposal to explore creating a partnership forum as a platform to enable multi-sectoral monitoring. While this is ideal in the spirit of inclusiveness, the Joint Programme sits on the principle of “constituency approach”, an approach that made the Board, with the Member States, civil society and communities, and Cosponsors, effective. Adding another layer of “partnership” with a function that might overlap with other existing platforms might even duplicate the work. Most of our colleagues, as well as some member States, expressed their concern on the partnership forum, and instead of coming up with a new platform, suggested reviewing and strengthening already existing platforms such as the CCM, the national AIDS councils, or even the UN country teams and enable these to invite other stakeholders in its regular meetings.
- Reinvigorating strategic policy focus and coherence of the Committee of Cosponsoring Organizations (CCO)
Refining UNAIDS governance will require a review of how we utilize the CCO as a platform in itself where high-level discussions can be made. I was at the UBRAF review of implementation last 27th April and it was amazing for me, coming from the community and as a PCB member, to see how Cosponsors are working together in the delivery of results and I thought this kind of presentations should be opened to a wider audience to witness how strategic partnerships, value of money, and monitoring progress based on the UBRAF and on the Global Targets are made. This is the kind of discussion that we need to have at the PCB. Both the Secretariat and the CCO must utilize this platform to leverage broader ownership of the Joint Programme among Cosponsors.
- Pursuing greater policy coherence across the Boards of UNAIDS and Cosponsors and ensure greater commitment to the AIDS response
With regards to ensuring policy coherence across other UN Boards, while it was found that UNAIDS and PCB decision points are taken into the discussions in other Boards, the engagement to UN boards generally varies and sometimes inadequate. If we are serious in taking HIV out of isolation, we need to make sure that we can clearly see how HIV links with other UN agencies’ priorities. If we want to achieve ownership of the Joint Programme among Cosponsors, we need to see people working effectively and efficiently to achieving this goal. The Global AIDS Coordinators play a crucial role in mainstreaming HIV into their respective agencies. At the same time, we also need to track the consistency and coherence of Member States who sit in multiple boards. By way of scorecards, perhaps we can ensure whether decision points from within PCB are brought into the agenda of other Boards, even in Boards outside of the UN such as UNITAID and the Global Fund. The idea of “scorecards” was supported by some Member States, but was not as welcomed among those who had concerns about their performance in meeting their commitments to the Political Declaration, despite possibly having NGOs taking a lead in the development of this scorecard. One Member State saw this as a possible “ridicule” or an “attack” towards other Member States’ performance, which might affect the relationship of Member States with each other at the PCB.
The PCB, in itself, has also been considered a good practice and this must be highlighted and used as a reference within the UN system. Some Panel members raised the need, for instance, to engage at the UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF) to highlight this good practice and influence how the UN system can be more inclusive.
Lastly, the Panel found the critical role of key population communities and people living with HIV at the Governance level. We have witnessed this at the PCB through its constituency approach. It was raised at the two Panel meetings in January and in March that there is a need to strength and empower civil society in its participation in monitoring both the Strategy and the 10 Fast Track commitments. In the report, there was a recommendation encouraging Member States to allot a seat within their respective Delegations in other to achieve this. But more than this, communities and civil society need to be supported financially and allowed to thrive, especially in places where spaces are shrinking – and this is where we need the political leadership and support of the Joint Programme, its Cosponsors, as well as Member States sitting in the PCB. We have Fast Track Commitments: seven on community-led responses and eight on funding for social enablers, but community engagement indicators are not reflected well in the UBRAF. As communities, we want to know how UNAIDS is supporting the global AIDS response in meeting these targets.
To quote the report, “the [establishment of UNAIDS] was propelled by the activism of people living with HIV and people affected by the epidemic.” This still rings true to this day, that despite the continuous violations that our communities experience in varying degrees in different regions, there will be no UNAIDS without us. The UNAIDS We Need is a UNAIDS that works closely with and is accountable to key population communities and people living with HIV.
 The Global Review Panel (GRP) was constituted based on the 39th UNAIDS PCB Decision Point 6.4, to review the ‘fit for purpose’ and relevance of the UN Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS. The outputs of the review will inform the revision of the UNAIDS Operating model, to make UNAIDS more efficient to meet the goal of ending AIDS by 2030. The Panel review looked at three pillars: joint working, financing and accountability, and governance.