Drugs Civil Society Group
The Drugs Civil Society Group is a civil society partnership mechanism with the UNODC Global HIV Programme. It brings together over 24 regional and global networks focussed on the HIV response with people who use drugs and people in prison. I work for the International Drug Policy Consortium three days per month to provide Secretariat support to the Drugs CS Group funded by UNODC.
We held our fifth annual partnership meeting in March 2018 before this year’s Commission on Narcotic Drugs. UNODC funds representatives from this collection of harm reduction, drug policy and drug user networks to meet together in Vienna to review progress with our partnership programme. We also agreed a new annual work-plan to drive out partnership activities for 2018/19. In 2017/18 our partnership included developing and piloting guidelines on people who use stimulant drugs and HIV and women who inject drugs. We are seeking funding together to develop guidelines on young people and harm reduction in 2018/19.
We also review the progress of UNODC in its High Priority Countries, driving partnership work at the country level between UNODC country officers and national civil society organisations, and drug user groups in particular. This provides an important mechanism for civil society accountability and feedback.
UNODC also continued with a small grants programme designed to foster partnership working between drugs civil society and UNODC. We are grateful to UNODC for protecting the small grants programme despite the cuts in their overall budget. It is notable that there were over 600 applications for the 6 available small grants. The small grants fund is a dynamic, exciting and efficient model for pioneering partnership work in different areas of the HIV/drugs response. We commend this approach to Member States and other donors as a practical strategy for supporting partnership and innovation on drugs/HIV that would provide a strategic focus for bilateral funding of the UNODC HIV programme
Today is Support Don’t Punish day and all around the world people are calling for a progressive response to the rights and health of people who use drugs. Last year Support Don’t Punish events took place in 205 cities and 95 countries and this year we expect the event to be event larger. We welcome the positive engagement with Support Don’t Punish day from both WHO and UNODC.
Network of Sex Work Projects
Consensus action points from 18-19 June 2018 Consultation on Preventing and Addressing Sexual Harassment at the UNAIDS Secretariat and across the UN:
- UNAIDS must uphold, respect, protect, and fulfil the human rights of all women, in all of our diversity, in the workplace.
- UNAIDS must put in place an inclusive and comprehensive process to halt and reverse its harmful organizational culture, and address the structural barriers and policies that hinder timely investigations and progress for all.
- This requires UNAIDS to ensure zero tolerance of sexual harassment and abuse of power at all levels, and to foster a safe, equitable, and inclusive work environment for all.
- This also requires working towards gender parity across UNAIDS, including in leadership roles, as well ensuring a workplace where everyone is treated with dignity and respect, and where appropriate use of authority and influence become the norm.
- UNAIDS needs to make public a Road Map outlining key activities, roles, responsibilities and a timeframe for developing new policies, instituting staff training, strengthening and streamlining investigation procedures, including protection for whistle-blowers and the safe re-integration of staff who have lodged grievances.
- Women from civil society, including women living with HIV, with expertise and lived experience of sexual harassment and abuse of power must be included in the Independent Expert Review Panel; ensuring a balance of academic and experiential capacity.
- Diverse women from civil society will establish an Independent Reference Group to engage with UNAIDS and the Independent Expert Review Panel, to ensure that voices, experience, and expertise from the frontline inform the current process, serving as watchdogs. This work will need to be resourced to ensure adequate capacity to engage with UNAIDS during this time of change and to influence the broader UN system wide reform in this area.
Agreed by women civil society participants in 18-19 June 2018 consultation co-convened by ATHENA Network and UNAIDS:
Mpwenda Abinery, NETWO+
Souhalia Bensaid, Association Tunisienne de Prévention Positive
Revati Chawla, International HIV/AIDS Alliance
Michaela Clayton, ARASA
Tyler Crone, ATHENA
Dona Da Costa Martinez, Family Planning Association of Trinidad and Tobago
Febe Deug, Aidsfonds
Mariana Iacono, ICW Latina
Ebony Johnson, ATHENA
Ruth Morgan Thomas, The Global Network of Sex Work Projects
Lydia Mungherera, ATHENA
Lillian Mworeko, ICWEA
Lucy Wanjiku Njenga, Positive Young Women Voices
Dorothy Onyango, WOFAK
Aarthi Pai, Sangram/Vamp
Assumpta Reginald, ICWWA
Nyasha Phanisa Sithole, AfriYAN Eastern and Southern Africa Network
Sibongile Tshabalala, Treatment Action Campaign
Martha Tholanah, Zimbabwe
Tendayi Westerhof, PAPWC-Zimbabwe
SRHR Africa Trust
I speak on behalf of the SRHR Africa Trust (SAT).
Chair, who we appear to be is not always who we are. Yet it is often who people think we are. And for those who look to us, it can be either who they aspire to be, or who they feel allowed to be.
Around the world today leaders and those they enable are driving us back decades on issues of rights, enabling homophobia, enabling extreme white racism, enabling xenophobia and the persecution of stateless people, and enabling misogyny and the rolling back of rights for women and girls. Global citizens now face an onslaught of leaders aiming to take us back to a past of less rights and not a future of more rights.
How we behave, and how we are seen to behave, either resists, or assists this race to the past. In this room, in the joint programme, and in the Secretariat, how we respond and are seen and perceived to respond to issues of sexual harassment has an enabling or a disabling impact on many of the very aspects that have driven and worsened HIV globally.
When we hear people say that our role in ending AIDS is too important to be distracted by the recent issues of sexual harassment, they are clearly not paying attention and clearly don’t understand this moment in history. This are exactly the attitudes that have allowed harassment and abuse, particularly by men in power, to be condoned, to flourish and to hide in plain sight.
How we behave and how we treat one another in our response is not tangential or marginal to the response. It is central to the response. How we allocate time, attention and even funds to this issue is not a deflection from the global HIV response. It is how we allocate time, attention and funds to how we go forward with the response.
On the slightly broader issue of gender inequality and inequity that allow harassment to flourish – and on which we heard earlier from the Deputy Executive director – there is a network emerging in civil society, inspired by Global Health 5050, that encourages organisations and agencies to walk the talk, not only on harassment, but on much deeper issues of gender equality and gender equity. The #Workplace5050 network will soon approach UNAIDS and ask it to consider signing up to the 9 commitments to gender equality and equity so as to take the UN-SWAP programme, & the gender equality plan into a broader arena where UNAIDS can move to show leadership on gender in how it operates as well as for what it programmes.
Finally, Chair, as the 5 point plan and as the independent panel move forward with crucial work we wish to issue a note of caution on the TOR and on the work of the next 6 months. There appears there may be an agenda – deliberately driven by some and inadvertently supported by others – to drive us back decades on the issue of meaningful involvement of most affected populations. In the righteous fight against harassment, assault and abuse, there is a stream of activism now speaking on behalf of, though not in collaboration with, sex workers. Chair, sex work is work. Sex workers, along with other key populations, are key to our success in ending AIDS. Our caution to this room is that in the 5 points, in the panel, and in our multiple collective and respective engagements with other structures and with the public in general, is that we not allow the terms “exploitation”, “abuse” and “sex work” to be used inter-changeably in our discourse. If we do, discrimination will surely follow discourse, action will follow discrimination, and, we will be in danger of rolling back decades of success in integrating key populations into the core of our response.
I thank you.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation
Distinguished PCB members and observers, Senior UNAIDS staffer,
AIDS Healthcare Foundation seeks PCB leadership and action to end the current crisis of
sexual harassment at UNAIDS.
However, the Chair of UNAIDS PCB on behalf of the Bureau refused Martina Brostrom, the to speak at PCB today to share her experience related to tackling sexual abuse in the workplace, which could help to catalyse the process, give a face to the issue and help the healing of many women victims within and beyond UNAIDS.
In reviewing the structure of the suggested independent expert panel we have a few concerns:
- The real independency of the expert panel, which is funded by UNAIDS
- The secretariat controlling ‘access’ to information and details the panel will request
- And need the panel not reviewing the current cases
We are concerned that the approach is built on conflict of interest and will not lead to the reform that is needed.
Michel Sidibe is not equal UNAIDS, quite the opposite now. There is no way for the healing and the reform to happen with him in charge. The AIDS community and the response needs better than this. We need solidarity, accountability and integrity in order to end AIDS by 2030 or ever.
UNAIDS does not need rewritten policies and procedures now. The cause of current crisis is not lack of sophisticated paperwork. The cause of current crisis is lack of accountability by its leadership.