Agenda 1.3. Report of the Executive Director
Delivered by Alessandra Nilo, NGO Latin America and Caribbean
Thank you, chair.
I would like to reflect on the role that UNAIDS can take in the context of UN Reform. As we know, the UN reform is not politically neutral or merely a technocratic exercise. Bids for power and privilege lurk in every proposal, and while many experts advise for a stronger and more effective UN, some powerful Member-States are opposed to a robust institution, using their clout to block change and taking geopolitical moves against multilateralism and accountable democracy.
It was in this context that, this year, UNAIDS and the PCB NGO Delegation organized a side event at the High Level Political Forum, to share our unique governance experience and to put forward a clear proposal: to have the UNAIDS example considered and adopted by all other UN Agencies governance bodies.
And I would like to use this opportunity to thank Portugal, Botswana, Liberia, France, Jamaica and Brazil for highlighting some benefits of taking stakeholder voices at governance level, ranging from greater legitimacy and trust due to stronger accountability and shared ownership, to the promotion of social cohesion in grassroots outreach, and improving people’s experience in service delivery while fostering greater responsiveness to citizens’ needs.
But there is still a lot of work to do. And we look forward to having other Member States and Co-sponsors express support on this request at this PCB, so we can continue to discuss ways to develop this advocacy agenda further. So, this is my first point . We count on you to take this message forward to the other UN Boards you seat. At this stage, more than having new UN resolutions and guidelines, we need a UN system that delivers on the inclusive nature of the 2030 Agenda by giving such an example.
We face today an unprecedented war against human, social and economic rights. Fundamentalist forces are clearly gaining spaces in governments bodies, creating a serious damage in the context of the AIDS response. This is a reality we face in many countries, including in Brazil, my own country where actions to promote gender equality are now forbidden at schools, while GBV and attacks against LGBTI people increase all over the country.
Therefore, for the NGO delegation, it is very concerning that all reasons to take a different path in responding to AIDS are outlined in our reports, declarations, and international commitments. But power relations stop these from happening at national level. This is why AIDS is far from over. Enough of people still dying due to AIDS; enough of the lack of access to combined prevention and treatment; and enough of discrimination, violence, and human-rights violations that fuel this epidemic.
It is our role, as PCB NGO delegation to bring here the facts we deal with in our daily work. We recognize the advances but we need to highlight the challenges. So please listen to us: To continue the “business-as-usual” approach will have counterproductive consequences. These delays impede addressing the structural or root causes of the AIDS epidemic in all its contexts.
As such, my second point today is to strongly urge Member-States and the UNAIDS Joint Program to take actions toward a paradigm shift. It is important to see the energy and commitment expressed by Michel and many MS here. But it is imperative to do more and do better, including by reversing the alarming trend of shrinking space for civil society.
Indeed, strengthening civil society capacity to sustain and increase its contributions in the AIDS response should be addressed by this board as a matter of urgency. It should be aligned with an inclusive set of global, regional, and national priorities, with accountability mechanisms and indicators about effective civil society engagement, to ensure an enabling context for sustainable development and accountable governance. It is time to face reality: in order to advance we need to full engage and fully fund civil society. Otherwise, stop saying you will leave no one behind and will end AIDS.