The NGO Delegation's Communique for the 47th UNAIDS PCB Meeting is already out. The Communique contains the following sections: Report of the Executive Director; Report by the NGO Representative; Annual Progress Report on HIV Prevention 2020; Evaluation; UNAIDS Strategy beyond 2021; Statement by the Representative of the UNAIDS Staff Association; COVID-19 and HIV; Report of the PCB Working Group on the Joint Inspection Unit Management and Administration Review of the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), and Update on progress on implementation of JIU Recommendations; Thematic Segment: Cervical cancer and HIV- addressing linkages and common inequalities to save women’s lives
You may download a PDF version of the Communique (with photos from the virtual PCB Meeting) here.
Jules Kim, Asia and the Pacific Delegate
The 47th UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board (PCB) meeting, held online between 15-18 December 2020 was the second virtual PCB meeting to be ever held due to the COVID-19 crisis. Chaired by the US, the virtual meeting was held on the zoom platform with interpretation available in the six official UN languages. As with the previous online meeting for the 46th PCB, the 47th PCB meeting was reduced to 3 x 3.5 hour days, with an additional day for the Thematic Segment. It was preceded by themed pre-meetings between November 18 to December 9, with an additional day to consult and discuss all decision points on the 10th of December, as well as virtual drafting rooms held on the 15th and 16th.
In order to manage the reduced times and the large number of agenda items, the agenda items on the follow-up to the thematic segment from the 45th PCB meeting (Mental Health and HIV) and the report of the Task Team on Community-led AIDS responses were discussed during the pre-meetings, and only briefly presented at the PCB with accompanying decision points. In place of the debate at the PCB, the papers on these agenda items were circulated to PCB participants with a deadline to submit written comments by the 15th of Jan 2021.
Although the virtual PCB meeting format continued to provide challenges and present inequities to participation, the meeting appeared to run somewhat more smoothly than the June meeting. Perhaps this was a consequence of us all having had prior experience of an online PCB meeting, not to mention almost a year of other virtual meetings. Despite the difficulty of managing varied time zones, with a number of the NGO Delegates having to attend meetings at untenable times, the NGO Delegation managed to conduct bilateral meetings with Member States, Cosponsors, UNAIDS Secretariat, and civil society observers to ensure full participation and representation at the 47th PCB meeting.
Agenda 1.3: Report of the Executive Director
Jonathan Gunthorp, Africa Delegate
The UNAIDS ED’s report spoke to a UNAIDS navigating a world in crisis. Winnie Byanyima focused internally, externally, and looking forward.
Internally, she focused on the difficulties of culture transformation, rebuilding trust after trying times, issues of justice, and bedding down new policies and procedures. From the NGO Delegation’s dialogue with the UNAIDS Secretariat Staff Association (USSA), we’re aware that all of these are difficult and often controversial areas and that staff wish that progress was swifter.
Externally, focusing on the context, the ED spoke to the current COVID-19 crisis, its impact on service disruptions and supply chains, and how it has highlighted global inequality and weaknesses in health systems. She emphasised the point made extensively and over time by the Delegation that the HIV response has set in place systems and relationships of value to wider health. Also of importance for civil society is that COVID-19 has re-ignited global urgency and Joint Programme focus on intellectual property (think vaccines) and equitable access to medicines.
Looking forward, she reiterated that the response will miss all 2020 targets and emphasized, among many other areas, the need for integrated services and access, the primacy of human rights and gender equality, and the need for resilience, people-centeredness, and agility in times of crisis.
Agenda 1.4: Report by the NGO Representative
Alexander Pastoors, Europe Delegate
This year the NGO Delegation chose a different kind of subject for the NGO report than usual. We decided to make a report that highlighted our accomplishments and contributions to the PCB since UNAIDS was established as a joint program by the ECOSOC in 1995. The reason behind this choice was to have the PCB, through clear decision points, reaffirm the value of active participation of civil society on the governing body of UNAIDS to the Joint Programme as a whole. Although the position of the NGO Delegation is enshrined in the resolution that founded UNAIDS, over the past years, several stakeholders have been overtly and covertly pushing an agenda that would diminish the meaningful participation of civil society in shaping the HIV-response.
With the support of our excellent consultant Sarah Middleton-Lee, we constructed a report based on six key areas in which the delegation has contributed significantly to the joint program. We shaped the decision points in such a way that they reaffirmed and strengthened our position on the PCB. Furthermore, through decision point 4.6, we managed to secure the financial support we, as a delegation, and especially the communication and consultation facility (CCF), need in order to fulfill our tasks as representatives of civil society in all its diversity on the PCB. There was some discussion around the wording of decision point 4.2 which led us to go into the drafting room. But with the help of our outgoing Asia Pacific delegate Aditia Taslim Lim and the Secretariat, we were able to reference the correct previously negotiated language around the role of civil society.
The report was well-received and complimented by member states and Cosponsors alike. The Cosponsors were especially happy with the decision point in which the participation of the NGO Delegation in the governing body of an organization was labeled best practice. It will hopefully open doors for civil society in other governance bodies in the UN.
Agenda 3: Annual Progress Report on HIV Prevention 2020
Aditia Taslim Lim, Asia and the Pacific Delegate
The prevention agenda was a critical topic as the continuous challenges in scaling up prevention efforts were also highlighted and discussed in different agenda items such as, the Report of the Executive Director, Report by the NGO representative, Community-led AIDS Responses, the Global AIDS strategy 2021-2026 and COVID-19 and HIV. A lot of attention towards scaling-up the efforts on prevention to meet the 2020 targets had been drawn in PCB meetings since 2015. These ongoing and repeated calls for urgency however have only contributed 1% more reduction from the previous decade, where new HIV infections were reduced by 22% between 2000 and 2009, and 23% between 2010 and 2019.
The Global HIV Prevention Coalition inception came with a hope to bring the numbers down. However, it is important to note that the progress so far has left several key population groups behind, including people who use drugs and transgender people. Additionally, despite the comprehensive approach of combined-prevention, structural and legal issues remain as the major barriers in meeting the needs of key populations.
The current score card produced by members of the Coalition does not reflect the current situations on the ground and donor’s transition, as well as funding redirection. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cripple health systems around the world, it will only create further barriers in accessing these life-saving commodities.
The NGO Delegation calls to re-dedicate political leadership to achieve more progress and impact. The new Global AIDS Strategy and its new UBRAF should reflect what we have learned from only making such a small impact in the last 10 years.
Agenda 7: Evaluation
Andrew Spieldenner, North America Delegate
The Report of the Independent Evaluation showed key successes and shortfalls of the Joint Programme. The Joint Programme has had impact at the local and regional levels, especially in terms of Cosponsors and Member States activities across several program areas, in particular those related to treatment access and adherence. The challenges include: shared understandings and policies around key populations; the relationship of social protection to the HIV Responses; and - at a global level - how Cosponsors and Member States demonstrate a common concern, language, and policies around key populations and the HIV response. The Management Response to the Report claimed the Unified Budget, Results and Accountability Framework (UBRAF) as the solution to nearly all of the highlighted challenges.
The NGO Delegation intervention focused on the UBRAF and the role of key populations in the Evaluation of the Joint Programme. The UBRAF is often inaccessible in terms of clarity, and it remains an imperfect tool that is over-reliant on Member States and Cosponsors self-reporting. The NGO Delegation has made interventions in the past about the UBRAF where we have criticized the self-reporting of Member States, especially as it relates to social protections, treatment adherence, and anti-stigma work. The NGO Delegation intervention for the Report of the Independent Evaluation also recommended that, since the majority of new HIV diagnoses is amongst key populations globally, then the Joint Programme should always include key populations as an integral component. The Independent Evaluation Unit 2021 report will focus on key populations.
Agenda 8: UNAIDS Strategy beyond 2021
We came out of the December PCB meeting with some interesting agreements and unexpected disagreements. Broad areas of the strategy were largely agreed, there is enormous support for the role of communities, for key populations, focus on adolescents and young people, and people-re-centred approaches. Surprising disagreements arose as to whether the framework covered too much, or was just right. A summary/elevator pitch will come out in the next few weeks, which we must all check for comprehensiveness of values and principles and focus on communities.
What, then, are some of the dangers we’re monitoring as the final shape of the full strategy becomes clear and we head towards the adoption of a new strategy? In terms of content, there are many, but four to watch out for are: a push by a few member states to excise all language on human rights; a further push by many of the same players to specifically not name key populations so as to ‘supposedly’ allow national priorities to determine these; linked to this, seriously retrogressive and oppressive moves on gender & identity; and, a more widely supported push to excise sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) language. In March 2021, the first indications of key elements of a new UBRAF will come out, and sharp eyes must be cast to ensure that what is strategized is both funded and monitored. A final process danger are those potentially hinting at delaying adoption of the Global AIDS Strategy beyond March.
Agenda 9: Statement by the Representative of the UNAIDS Staff Association
UNAIDS has been the focus of several inquiries in its recent history, including the treatment of its staff and the organization’s work culture. The UNAIDS Secretariat Staff Association (USSA) Report was surprising for a couple reasons. First, the USSA generally presents in the summer meeting (June) which covers administrative matters of the Joint Programme. Second, the report highlighted the persistent lack of transparency at the organization. It was clear from the USSA Report and the Executive Director response that there were different perspectives about how the organization and work culture was shifting. The USSA felt a quiet “realignment” was underway at the organization, but the Executive Director denied this was happening.
The NGO Delegation intervention recognized the USSA as the valid voice of the staff. We also discussed the importance of staff morale and transparency in the organization. As leaders in our various communities, we know that change takes time, but these concerns must be addressed urgently. As organizations interested in social justice, how we do business in terms of our practices and policies demonstrate our key values. We also insisted that there be transparent processes for realignment at UNAIDS.
Agenda 10: COVID-19 and HIV
Dr. Karen Badalyan, Europe Delegate
We acknowledged the efforts of UNAIDS and national health systems in the COVID-19 response in the HIV/AIDS context. Nevertheless, we urged UNAIDS to address these dual epidemics—not by taking away from the HIV response for the COVID-19 response, but rather by being agile and innovative to support the continuation of HIV services while also appropriately leveraging and expanding on key elements from HIV. We raised several key messages highlighting that the COVID-19 response must:
1)be guided by Human rights and gender equality principles and practices
2)benefit from learning from the HIV responses
3)use the strategic information data to guide actions, increase accountability, and improve programme performance
4)put community and Key population leaders and representatives in a central role since community-led organizations are key infrastructure elements of resilient health response systems, e.g., in governance and planning, direct service delivery, and community monitoring and accountability.
We also raised the importance of granular and real-time data collection and analysis to improve the efficiency and impact of health system responses. In our interventions, we mentioned that effective and sustained political will is vital to the success of COVID-19 epidemic responses.
Agenda 11: Report of the PCB Working Group on the Joint Inspection Unit Management and Administration Review of the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS); and Agenda 12: Update on progress on implementation of JIU Recommendations
Jumoke Patrick, Latin America and the Caribbean Delegate
This agenda item presentation and report represented the work of the Working Group which included representatives from Member States, Cosponsors and the NGO Delegation to the PCB.
The report gave detailed information on the agreed way forward which included decisions to clarify the oversight and accountability roles of the PCB, establish an independent, external oversight advisory committee, strengthen the risk management to the PCB, and call on the UNAIDS Executive Director to provide a periodic status update on the JIU recommendations implementation.
As well, the presentation took note of the revised guiding principles of the Cosponsors, which encourages implementation of the principles with focus being on evidence-based approaches. Substantively, it was recommended that the PCB report to ECOSOC should include a request for ECOSOC to the UN Secretary-General to submit a report on the establishment of two four-year term limits for the position of UNAIDS Executive Director, in line with the best practices of the UN system.
This agenda item followed mere formalities and did not have an extensive floor discussion or any disagreement. PCB members were largely in agreement with the recommendations and provided commendation to the working group for its work and report. The NGO delegation supported the decision points and did a floor intervention to reaffirm the NGO delegation position to support the restoring of faith of donors in a Joint Programme that secures the future of an indispensable organization to support governments, civil society, and communities in the fight to end AIDS.
Agenda 15: Thematic Segment: Cervical cancer and HIV- addressing linkages and common inequalities to save women’s lives
Violeta Ross, Latin America and the Caribbean Delegate
The Thematic Segment, Cervical cancer and HIV: addressing linkages and common inequalities to save women’s lives was held on December 18, 2020. As NGO Delegation, we organized a Civil Society Advisory Group (CSAG), to provide comments on the Background Note provided by UNAIDS, which was a summary of issues to be discussed in the thematic segment and suggest panel speakers. We are thankful to all the civil society speakers for their active and substantive contribution and interventions to the discussion.
Based on the inputs of the CSAG and especially the speakers, the NGO Delegation focused on these key messages:
●Women living with HIV are more exposed to developing cervical cancer.
●Human Papilloma Virus transmission can happen to sexually active people, regardless of their gender or sexuality.
●Cervical cancer can affect any individual with a cervix – including women, girls, transmen, non-binary and intersex people. Transmen living with HIV who still have their uterus and cervix should have access to the same level of service.
●Women (young women and those living on the margins), face the intersection of vulnerabilities such as institutional violence, financial barriers, poverty, and their impacts on access to prevention, treatment, support and care.
UNAIDS should coordinate a combination prevention approach, and an integrated and intersectional response to stigma and discrimination and its outcomes, bearing in mind diversity and multiple identities brought about by race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and economic status, among others. The Joint Programme also has to provide technical support for countries and support advocacy for sustainable funding. The response to the intersections of cervical cancer and HIV has to include the exposition of unfairgender systems that limit our autonomy for sexual health.
The decision points of this thematic segment are due for the next PCB meeting in June 2021.
The NGO Delegation would like to extend our deepest gratitude to our Delegates who ended their term in 2020: Aditia Taslim Lim (Rumah Cemara – Asia and the Pacific), Lucy Wanjiku Njenga (Positive Young Women Voices – Africa), and Wangari Tharao (Women’s Health in Women’s Hands CHC – North America).
We would also like to give a warm welcome to our new Delegates: Charanjit Sharma (Indian Drug Users Forum – Asia and the Pacific), Iwatutu Joyce Adewole (African Girl Child Development and Support Initiative – Africa), and Maureen Owino (Committee for Accessible AIDS Treatment – North America). You may get to know a little bit more about them by visiting this feature on our website.
Tags: 47th PCB Meeting
The NGO Delegation's Communique for the 46th UNAIDS PCB Meeting is already out. The Communique contains the following sections: Report of the Executive Director; Report by the Chair of the Committee of Cosponsoring Organisations; UNAIDS Strategy beyond 2021; Unified Budget, Results and Accountability Framework (UBRAF); Progress report on establishment of the Task Team on Community-led responses; Report of the working group on the Joint Inspection Unit management and administration review of the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS); Update on the implementation of the Management Action Plan; Update on strategic human resources management issues; Organisational oversight reports - external audit report; Statement by the representative of the UNAIDS Secretariat Staff Association
Alexander Pastoors, Europe Delegate
The 46th PCB Meeting was held virtually from June 23-25, 2020. Because the COVID-19 pandemic made an in-person meeting in Geneva impossible, the meeting used the Interprefy platform. Having a virtual PCB came with a series of challenges both for the UNAIDS Secretariat and the PCB members, not to mention the civil society observers and observer member states.
The biggest implication of organising a virtual PCB meeting was the reduced amount of meeting time allotted to each meeting day, compared to an in-person meeting. This meant that a lot of agenda items were pushed to the December meeting, including the NGO Delegation Report and the Thematic segment on cervical cancer and HIV. It also did not allow for much negotiation on decision points that had to be agreed on per agenda item.
Another consequence of the shift to a virtual meeting was the conduct of pre-meetings that emerged in the weeks prior to the PCB, in which the agenda items were presented and board members could ask questions. The Delegation also had to stagger bilateral meetings with PCB Member States, as well as with Cosponsors, Civil Society, and UNAIDS Executive Director, among others. For most of the members of the delegation, this was very challenging, both in workload, as well as having to attend either very early or very late in their respective time zones in calls for many days in a row.
In retrospect, given the many challenges, the virtual PCB meeting went well. Especially because the NGO Delegation succeeded in its advocacy to extend the timeline of the development of the new UNAIDS strategy, enabling better participation of civil society throughout the entire process.
AGENDA 1.3: REPORT OF THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Jules Kim, Asia and the Pacific Delegate
Winnie Byanyima delivered her second Executive Director’s Report since assuming the role as UNAIDS ED in November 2019. Her report highlighted the impacts of COVID-19, and how the pandemic has demonstrated the importance of investment in HIV principles, approaches, infrastructure, and expertise that extend far beyond the AIDS response. Winnie spoke to the inequities that have become further exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
She spoke of how off track we were in relation to targets with too many countries not on track to meet 90-90-90 targets. There are still too many AIDS related deaths, the gains in preventing new pediatric infections and accelerating treatment for children living with HIV have stalled and the serious gap in prevention for key populations and adolescent girls and young women continues. Winnie highlighted how “HIV is an epidemic of inequalities.”
The NGO Delegation interventions emphasized the impact of COVID-19 on people living with HIV and key populations, including disruptions to services and access to ARV’s and increases in human rights abuses, marginalisation and stigma and discrimination.
Winnie addressed the unfinished business within the UNAIDS Strategy that informs the approach to the next UNAIDS Strategy development process. She spoke to the advantages of maintaining the critical pillars that have delivered results in the current strategy, to the end of 2025, but also enhance the current strategy to prioritise critical areas that are lagging behind and need greater attention, e.g., protecting human rights to ensure that AIDS responses are tailored to the needs of those most affected. Towards thid end, Winnie urged Member States to join the Global Partnership for Action to End HIV Related Stigma and Discrimination and to take immediate actions, such as declaring a moratorium on the application of harmful laws that impact people living with HIV, LGBTIQ persons, sex workers, people who use drugs.
AGENDA 1.4: REPORT OF THE CHAIR OF THE COMMITTEE OF COSPONSORING ORGANISATIONS (CCO)
Lucy Wanjiku Njenga, Africa Delegate
I never imagined that a virtual PCB would be possible, but by the efforts of all that put work into it, it happened. I applaud all of us for making it work despite all of the challenges we faced with time differences and connectivity, especially for observers from civil society. The report of the Chair of the Committee of Cosponsoring Organisations (CCO) highlighted the importance of working together, especially in the context of the twin pandemics of HIV/AIDS and COVID-19. The report echoed the challenges of COVID-19, citing the role of social inequalities and its impact on HIV. During the discussion, there were questions on the transparency of the country envelope process and how COVID-19 would affect the HIV response now that most funding would be channeled towards responding to the pandemic. A concrete example cited was the situation in Latin America and the Caribbean region as the emerging epicenter of COVID-19, which is already impacting heavily on the current HIV response.
The CCO also expressed support for the UNAIDS strategy development process. A critical issue raised was how each Cosponsor’s strategies would align with the upcoming new global strategy. In the closing statement, the CCO Chair made references to sex workers as ‘women forced into prostitution’, which the NGO Delegation found concerning. We will be following up to further discuss and clarify this position as it impacts on our community. While fighting two epidemics, civil society presence still needs safeguarding and appreciation. We cannot push some of us who are hanging by a thread further under the carpet.
AGENDA 3: UNAIDS STRATEGY BEYOND 2021
Jonathan Gunthorp, Africa Delegate
The UNAIDS new strategy process for 2021 and beyond is now well under way with the NGO Delegation having taken a prominent role in winning a longer, more accessible, process. In the pre-meetings and in our PCB statement, we made clear and believe there is substantial support for a strong UNAIDS, commitment to human rights, integration with SRHR, focus on the health of women and adolescents, and addressing all structural and policy barriers that block effective responses for people who use drugs, men who have sex with men, transgender people, sex workers, and people living with HIV. At the PCB meeting, Executive Director Winnie Byanyima presented three possible ways forward:
Option 1: Maintain the focus and structure of current strategy, extending the timeline to the end of 2025
Option 2: Maintain the critical pillars that have delivered results in the current strategy, its ambition and the principles underpinning it to the end of 2025, but also enhance the current strategy to prioritise critical areas that are lagging behind and need greater attention
Option 3: Develop a comprehensive new UNAIDS Strategy from scratch
The process between now and March 2021 involves a review of what is going well and what is not, which will culminate in a virtual multi-stakeholder consultation in September. The review will also recommend options for the strategy framework to the PCB. The December PCB meeting will spend time reflecting on the framework and substance of the strategy, and then a special PCB session in March 2021 will adopt the strategy.
The NGO Delegation enjoins you in the community and civil society networks to take part in this process. Make sure your constituency’s agenda and voices are heard in the review and that qualitative and quantitative data are reflective of your realities.
Participate now. Build a UNAIDS that works for you. Reach out to us for information.
AGENDA 4: UNIFIED BUDGET, RESULTS AND ACCOUNTABILITY FRAMEWORK (UBRAF)
Aditia Taslim Lim, Asia ang the Pacific Delegate
UBRAF presents the work of the Joint Programme and its performance against the indicators set in accordance with the current UNAIDS Strategic Result Areas. However, it often focuses on the presence or absence of policies, rather than its implementation. At the PCB meeting, the NGO Delegation’s interventionhighlighted the urgency of capturing the real stories on the ground. We also raised several key points, age-consent laws remain as barriers in all regions despite 88% of 33 Fast Track countries reporting to have supportive SRH policies; off-track countries are being further left behind in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic; and, concerning evidence on ARV resistance.
As UNAIDS embarks in the new strategy development, a lot of attention has been put into this process. In parallel, the community must also keep an eye on “the new” UBRAF as it will determine the indicators that will measure the work of UNAIDS and the Cosponsors at Regional and National level in the coming years. Over the past years, the NGO Delegation has been very critical in voicing the sentiment of what is not being measured and how UBRAF does not speak to our reality. We must be proactive in seeking engagement in this process to ensure critical aspects are being measured and that we can hold the Joint Programme and Implementing Countries accountable.
AGENDA 5: PROGRESS REPORT ON ESTABLISHMENT OF THE TASK TEAM ON COMMUNITY-LED AIDS RESPONSES
Violeta Ross, Latin America and the Caribbean Delegate
This agenda item was presented, but without any discussion during the actual PCB. Only written statements were submitted for inclusion and reference in the final report of the PCB. During the week of pre-meetings, there was some discussion on this topic and the general consensus is on the urgency of this work; especially in time of the COVID-19 pandemic where communities are leading the response more than ever.
In our written intervention, we gave the example of REDTRASEX, a regional network of female sex workers in Latin America, which in three months of quarantine mobilized 10,000 food supply baskets for sex workers in 11 countries. The NGO Delegation focused on the urgency of this Task Team and the commitments the PCB already agreed regarding this topic.
What is next in relation to this agenda item? We expect the Secretariat to announce the final 25 members of the Task Team. The NGO Delegation submitted the names of four people from different regions and communities. We will keep you informed about the progress of this Task Team, so be sure to follow our social media networks.
AGENDA 6: REPORT OF THE WORKING GROUP ON THE JOINT INSPECTION UNIT MANAGEMENT AND ADMINISTRATION REVIEW OF THE UNITED NATIONS JOINT PROGRAMME ON HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)
Jumoke Patrick, Latin America and the Caribbean Delegate
The Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) report at the 45th PCB meeting in December 2019 gave latitude and oversight to a selected working group to carry forward the task of responding to the recommendations coming from the UN Joint Inspection Unit. The JIU Working Group, which includes two members of the NGO Delegation, was tasked with the duty of implementing and carrying forward the task of responding to the JIU recommendations both formal and informal recommendations. Since its inception in April 2020, the JIU WG has been reviewing, consulting and assessing the recommendations and the feasibility of these based on what currently exists and the strategic direction of UNAIDS moving forward.
Prior to the 46th PCB Board meeting, the JIU WG coordinated two meetings that looked at revising the PCB’s Modus Operandi in order to clarify its roles and responsibilities, oversight and accountability mechanisms of UNAIDS and the Secretariat, validity of the guiding principles for co-sponsoring organizations, and support an open a dialogue with the United Nations Secretary-General on the term limit of the Executive Director and the explicit performance expectations for the position. The JIU WG process was reported back to the 46th PCB meeting, in which the process and progress of the working group were recognized by the PCB. However, as the JIU Working Group was still involved in the process to finalize recommendations to the PCB, it was decided that written comments from PCB Members were more practical in place of a discussion at the PCB meeting. The NGO Delegation submitted its statement prior to the PCB.
AGENDA 7: UPDATE ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE MANAGEMENT ACTION PLAN
The Management Action Plan (MAP) was conceived in December 2018, after the report by the Independent Expert Panel on harassment, sexual harassment and abuse of power within the organisation. The MAP has several goals and targets in order to eliminate all forms of harassment and abuse of power and to give UNAIDS staff more protection and better tools for redress. The update at the 46th PCB Meeting gave the PCB insight into how many of the targets were achieved or on track to be achieved. The general feeling of the PCB was that there has been a lot of progress in implementing the various programmes and actions of the MAP. This in itself is a good sign because several donor countries of UNAIDS have said that a good implementation of the MAP was necessary in order for them to maintain financial support.
The PCB was aligned in its request to put more effort in those areas that are not yet on track, such as the redress system through the WHO. Furthermore, some members of the PCB, including the NGO Delegation, gave a statement requesting Secretariat to speed up the selection process of the definitive person for the position of director of the independent ethics office which is now temporarily filled out.
AGENDA 8: UPDATE ON STRATEGIC HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT ISSUES
Dr. Karen Badalyan, Europe Delegate
An update on strategic human resources management (HRM) issues was presented at the 46th PCB meeting, indicating the Secretariat’s endeavors to move forward with its ambitious agenda across the four pillars of the 2016– 2021 HRM Strategy: 1) investing in people, 2) strengthening performance culture, 3) inspiring collective leadership and 4) ensuring an enabling workplace. The report also highlighted ongoing efforts of the HRM department to uphold dignity, accountability, and wellbeing in the UNAIDS workplace, and clearly stated that UNAIDS provides an environment in which staff members feel safe and happy to work, and are supported and empowered to perform to the best of their abilities.
While acknowledging the existing efforts, the NGO Delegation also raised PCB members’ attention to the gender equality issues within HRM. Our intervention raised specific concerns about staff members’ biological sex being automatically taken as an indicator to identify people’s gender self-identification, as well as the binary approach to gender disaggregation. We called upon the Secretariat to include gender diversity in its full spectrum in all future human resource management reports, highlighting the importance of recognizing the wonderful diversity in our communities and constituencies in the global HIV/AIDS response.
AGENDA 9: ORGANIZATIONAL OVERSIGHT REPORTS – EXTERNAL AUDIT REPORT
Andrew Spieldenner, North America Delegate
The external audit was presented at the 46th PCB Meeting. The overview indicated that UNAIDS has had sufficient fiscal controls with no findings for fiscal mismanagement. The external audit also highlighted some key areas that were still underdeveloped including: human resource development and the UBRAF reporting systems. Our intervention centered on the self-reporting flaws in the UBRAF, where we questioned whether governments would report their own failings in protecting key populations and other marginalized groups.
Other PCB members focused on different parts of the audit. Some were concerned with the lack of progress on staff morale and development, and offered suggestions. Others highlighted the history of harassment and abuse at the organization. Finally, some PCB members brought forward the ways that COVID-19 might impact UNAIDS operations. The clear message was that the PCB wanted to have more confidence in how UNAIDS is run as an organization, especially under the leadership of UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima. Through the meeting, the response was to highlight increases in resourcing from Germany this year, as well as encouraging other Member States to meet and increase their contributions.
AGENDA ITEM 10: STATEMENT BY THE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE UNAIDS SECRETARIAT STAFF ASSOCIATION
Wangari Tharao, North America Delegate
The 2020 staff survey that informed the UNAIDS Secretariat Staff Association (USSA) statement highlighted some of the following lingering issues: a) continued lack of fairness and transparency, particularly in areas of job recruitment, promotion, and job mobility, a factor that may enable favoritism; b) discrimination (3 cases reported based on HIV status), incivility (reported by 43% of staff), sexual harassment (3 cases reported compared to 8 in 2019), and intimidation and abuse of authority; c) majority of staff (73%) felt that their workloads had increased over the previous 12 months, in comparison to 50% in 2019 with vacancies remaining unfilled for prolonged periods of time.
The NGO Delegation’s intervention acknowledged that though progress has been made in the implementation of the MAP, we were concerned about the slow progress in changing the culture of the organization. Our statement highlighted the likely negative impacts on any efforts to create a trusting, healthy, equitable and enabling environment for staff if above issues continue to linger. These same issues and concerns were also raised by various member states (MS) and UNAIDS was strongly encouraged to expedite the MAP implementation process.
Our statement also drew attention to the urgent need to disaggregate the survey data informing the USSA statement, to further elucidate how race and gender may impact responses of staff on the issues raised. This way UNAIDS will have the necessary information to develop a more tailored capacity building program for its staff. We view this as being very important to ensure alignment with current global movement(s) to reduce racism, particularly anti-Black racism within institutions and systems.
Tags: 46th PCB Meeting
The NGO Delegation's Communique for the 45th UNAIDS PCB Meeting is already out. The Communique contains the following sections: Report of the Executive Director; Report by the NGO representative; Annual progress report on HIV prevention 2020; Report on progress on actions to reduce stigma and discrimination in all its forms; Report of the Joint Inspection Unit on the management and administration review of UNAIDS; Lessons learned on the nomination process of UNAIDS Executive Director; Evaluation Plan; Election of officers; Thematic Segment - Reducing the impact of AIDS on children and youth
You may download a PDF version of the Communique (with photos from the PCB Meeting) here.
The 45th meeting of the Programme Coordinating Board (PCB) took place in calmer waters than the previous meetings of the board. The venue was, as usual, the Executive Boardroom of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland and the meeting was held from December 10 -12, 2019. It was the first meeting of the newly appointed third UNAIDS Executive Director in the history of the Joint Programme, and the first woman to hold that position, Ms. Winnie Byanyima from Uganda. The meeting was chaired by Ms. Li Cui from China.
Winnie’s report to the board was generally well-received, including by the NGO Delegation. Yet, as the current UNAIDS Strategy nears its expiration date in 2021, her report initiated a debate among members of the board about a possible next UNAIDS Strategy and the process involved. This discussion was closely linked with the agenda item that reflected on the report of the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU).
Just as in previous years, the first two days of the PCB discussed the report by the NGO Delegation and several other more policy and programme-driven items such as prevention, barriers to funding of community-led responses, and the Global Partnership for action to eliminate all forms of HIV-related stigma and discrimination. The third day of the meeting focused on the Thematic segment to inform the members of the PCB about possible actions to reduce the impact of AIDS on children and youth.
Winnie Byanyima, in her first report to the PCB as Executive Director, made a focused, strong, and rights-based Executive Director’s report with her vision for UNAIDS, and what needs to be done to achieve that vision.
The Delegation welcomed her appointment and responded with the following points:
What we must do to succeed:
Who we must be and how we must organise:
AGENDA 1.4: REPORT BY THE NGO REPRESENTATIVE
This year, the report from the NGO Delegation was titled, “If It Is To Be Truly Universal: Why Universal Health Coverage Will Not Succeed Without People Living with HIV and Other Key Populations, Women and Young People.” Despite there having been a thematic session on UHC in June and a High Level Meeting on UHC resulting in a Political Declaration, the NGO Delegation felt it was crucial to highlight what people living with HIV, key populations, women, and young people could bring to UHC. The successes of the community-led HIV response in reaching the most marginalised was an important lesson for UHC if it is to be truly effective for all.
The Report was presented by the Asia Pacific NGO Delegate and was grouped into six key contributions that people living with HIV, key populations, women and young people and their organisations and networks, could make to UHC. Examples of the vital contributions were taken from numerous interviews, case studies, literature reviews, and focus group discussions conducted by the Delegation to highlight within the report, providing conclusive evidence as to why UHC cannot succeed without us, communities at its centre.
Many Member States, Cosponsors, and civil society observers spoke strongly in recognition of the critical role of these communities and the need for these to be incorporated into UHC. The Decision Points (DPs) from the NGO Report did go to a drafting room, as consensus could not be reached on the floor. However, agreement was reached fairly swiftly and importantly, the vital aspects of the DPs were agreed upon. These included DPs recalled from previous PCB meetings and recognition of the need to address structural, economic, and social drivers of the AIDS epidemic in advancing broader global health goals. Of special note were new DPs that requested the Joint Programme to continue supporting Member States in creating an enabling environment for people living with HIV and other key populations, women and young people by addressing and overcoming relevant economic, social, structural, and regulatory barriers – including stigma, discrimination and criminalization and a DP that called on the UNAIDS Joint Programme to continue supporting Member States in ensuring all the elements of comprehensive HIV programming, as set out in the UNAIDS Strategy (2016-2021), remain or become available and accessible to people living with HIV and other key populations, women and young people under UHC frameworks and policies.
AGENDA 3: ANNUAL PROGRESS REPORT ON HIV PREVENTION 2020
Aditia Taslim Lim, Asia and the Pacific Delegate
The NGO Delegation was extremely concerned with this agenda item, as it seemed to be a repeat of the discussions at the 40th PCB Thematic Segment on HIV Prevention 2020 in June 2017, and its follow-up discussion at the 41st PCB meeting in December 2017. The data from the report shows significant reduction in HIV prevention since 2010, but if examined closely, the annual trend is still very similar, and in some countries, new infections have increased. Some examples that we can pull out from the data is South Africa which had 39% decrease since 2010, but with only 10-11% decrease every year since 2015. Indonesia was reported to have 29% decrease since 2010, but with only less than 10% decrease every year since 2015. Uganda had a 36% decrease since 2010, but only had a 4% decrease in 2017 and an increase of 6% in 2018.
The Global HIV Prevention Coalition was formed in 2017 to accelerate prevention efforts and to galvanize political commitment among its member countries. Despite all the progress made towards its roadmap implementation, countries are still not doing enough to reduce infections. In some instances, they have even regressed. Member States argue that it requires time for the Coalition to make an impact. However, the NGO Delegation reminded the PCB that communities of key and most affected populations do not have the luxury of time. We need to ensure that the promised 25% investment for prevention is fulfilled, condoms for both male and female must be made available and accessible, harm reduction services must be funded, PrEP must be scaled up, and vertical transmission must be eliminated, now!
This is business as usual wrapped in a different ambition. UNAIDS and Member States need to stop pretending that they are doing something different, when they are caught doing exactly the same thing.
AGENDA 6: REPORT ON PROGRESS ON ACTIONS TO REDUCE STIGMA AND DISCRIMINATION IN ALL ITS FORMS
Alessandra Nilo, Latin America and the Caribbean Delegate
We welcomed the results of the report, “Update on actions to reduce stigma and discrimination in all its forms.” This agenda item was a special moment for us, since the Global Partnership resulted from an idea proposed by the PCB NGO Delegation at the 41st PCB meeting in December 2017.
We thanked the support from all co-conveners -- UNWomen, UNAIDS, GNP+, and UNDP -- but we expressed deep concerns about the challenges before us. Fighting stigma and discrimination is clearly an urgent necessity in all countries, including those with structured AIDS responses in place. As example, we mentioned the recent results of the Stigma Index in Brazil, of which 64% of respondents suffered HIV-related stigma and/or discrimination.
This Partnership is a timely opportunity, but global political declarations or commitments will continue to be inefficient if followed by almost zero budgets, including for responses or approaches that address human-rights issues in the AIDS responses.
It is regretable that our communities are losing faith in public policies, but we expressed hope that this Partnership won't be one of many initiatives that UNAIDS begins without concluding. We demand that it should be given all the human and financial support required in order to support Member States to address structural barriers that keep stigma and discrimination among the most perverse symptoms of AIDS.
AGENDA 7: REPORT OF THE JOINT INSPECTION UNIT ON THE MANAGEMENT AND ADMINISTRATION REVIEW OF UNAIDS
The Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) is the only independent external oversight body of the United Nations system mandated to conduct evaluations, inspections and investigations system-wide. In its reportthe JIU reviewed the management and administration of the Joint Programme, specifically the UNAIDS secretariat and its relation with the Cosponsors, as well as the role of the PCB regarding oversight and accountability. The inspection and evaluation started in 2018 and were temporarily halted during the time that the Independent Expert Panel (IEP) did its investigation regarding prevention of and response to harassment, including sexual harassment, bullying and abuse of power at UNAIDS Secretariat.
The extensive evaluation and inspection by the JIU culminated in a number of formal and informal recommendations to the UNAIDS secretariat, the PCB and to the Cosponsors. The progress on the eight formal recommendations will be monitored by the JIU, but the twenty-five informal recommendations will not be monitored. It came as no surprise that the discussions among the Member States with regards to the JIU report were largely focused on the recommendation to strengthen oversight and accountability by the PCB of the Secretariat and specifically, human resource management, much like the discussions at the 43rd and 44th PCB meetings. As this is the fourth JIU report in a row pointing out the structural lack of oversight by the PCB, this necessitated being addressed by the PCB and could no longer be brushed aside. The issue at stake here is to find a balance between keeping the structure of the Joint Programme agile and flexible while strengthening oversight by the PCB, in order to ensure that donor countries keep faith in the organisation.
That was also the position the NGO Delegation brought forward in the negotiations that took place in the drafting room. The PCB resolved to create a time-limited working group that will develop recommendations (options) to the PCB on how to establish better oversight. The NGO Delegation will be represented in this working group, which will report back at the 47th PCB meeting in December 2020. Meanwhile, a stand-alone agenda item for Secretariat to inform the PCB on internal and external audits, ethics, and other topics on accountability, will be included in future meetings.
AGENDA 8: LESSONS LEARNED ON THE NOMINATION PROCESS OF UNAIDS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
In 2019, the NGO Delegation engaged in the process of finding a new Executive Director for UNAIDS through its membership in the Search Committee. The report that was presented in this Agenda item was a synthesis of the work done and lessons learned by the Search Committee, which included two of our NGO delegates, Alessandra Nilo (LAC) and Jonathan Gunthorp (Africa), whom we thank for their dedication.
One of the existing rules of the ED selection is that the PCB does not have a say in the final recommendation or decision. The candidates who are shortlisted by the Search Committee are considered at some extent by the PCB, but it is the Cosponsors who will give the final recommendation to the UN Secretary General, who then appoints the Executive Director. At the 45th PCB meeting, the possibility of changing this rule was raised. However, the idea had little support from other Member States and after some consideration, the process remained the same. The NGO Delegation is thankful to the entire Search Committee and its chair, the Republic of Belarus, for seeing this selection process through.
AGENDA 9: EVALUATION PLAN
The Evaluation Unit at UNAIDS emerged out of the need to assess how well the Joint Programme is working where, and to assess what other kinds of data are needed. UNAIDS has had inconsistent evaluation activities over its lifetime, and this was the first reportsince the Evaluation Unit was approved at the 44th PCB meeting in June 2019. Evaluation is a staple of many public health and HIV programs, but large international or intergovernmental organizations are often not under the same pressure to produce data to funders as our NGOs.
Some Member States questioned the Evaluation Unit in terms of their budget and how they do their work. While oversight is expected and required, it seems short-sighted to constantly question the processes until findings are presented. The NGO Delegation interventions on this item looked at the importance of effective evaluation for key populations, as well as support for evaluating the impact of the Joint Programme on Gender-Based Violence.
Preliminary findings showed some strengths and some gaps in the Joint Programme. The strengths include UNAIDS impact regionally in terms of policies and guiding HIV responses, as well as the importance of direct funding. Some gaps include coordination across Cosponsors and the impact of policies in-country. This kind of data can help UNAIDS reflect on how it does its work, correct where the work can be improved, and enhance and sustain the work that is going well.
AGENDA 11: ELECTION OF OFFICERS
At this PCB meeting, several changes to the composition of the Board were announced. This include the composition of the 22 Member States, the chair of the Committee of Cosponsoring Organizations (CCO), the NGO Delegation, and the PCB Bureau.
Member States Composition Changes:
Full composition of Member States
The 2020 Chair of CCO: United Nations Development Programmes (UNDP)
NGO Delegation: Latin America and the Carribean: Bolivian Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, represented by Gracia Violeta Ross Quiroga and the Jamaican Network of Seropositives represented by Jumoke Patrick; Europe: Eurasian Key Populations Health Network represented by Caren Badalyan.
PCB Bureau (2020): United States of America (Chair), Namibia (Vice Chair), India (Rapporteur), UNDP (CCO Chair) and NGO Delegation (Andrew Spieldenner, main representative; Jonathan Gunthorp, alternate representative).
AGENDA 12: THEMATIC SEGMENT – REDUCING THE IMPACT OF AIDS ON CHILDREN AND YOUTH
The 45th PCB Thematic Segment on Reducing the Impact of AIDS on Children and Youth was deemed successful, as it brought together different voices from various fields that needed to be heard. The most notable and applauded sessions were the Keynote speech and the presentations and speeches of all the young people in the three panel sessions. They brought out the lived experiences and realities that needed to be heard by Member States, the Cosponsors and UNAIDS, as the review of prevention, treatment, and care given to children and youth takes shape in the 2020 and 2030 targets. We know the world is failing on the ambitious HIV targets for them.
From the discussions that happened in the room, the next steps that needed to take place were clear. To list a few:
REFLECTIONS FROM INCOMING DELEGATES
This was my first PCB meeting as the incoming Europe NGO Delegate, representing the Eurasian Key Populations Health Network. I am happy to be a part of a team of delegates from five regions, with outcomes-focused and equity-guided principles committed to improve pathways and policies that support UNAIDS and countries in the HIV/AIDS response.
It was very important and helpful for me to participate in the pre-PCB orientation meeting focused on addressing and understanding diversity between current, outgoing and incoming delegates and improving processes critical to delegates’ success, including retention and transition to a new role in the PCB NGO Delegation. I found my involvement process very effective since it began with a strong collaboration between Delegates and a supportive UNAIDS Secretariat. My fellow Delegates openly reflected on what they have learned and shared insights with new Delegates, passing on to us the knowledge they have acquired being PCB delegates. We should keep the tradition of organizing orientation meetings for future newcomers.
It was also very important to recognize our diversity within the group and map-out key roles and missions for each individual Delegate and for the full Delegation. My commitment is to bring the gender approach to the HIV/AIDS context and gender mainstreaming of UNAIDS work, as well as to use evidence-based data, research, and evaluation methods to improve policies, programs, and practices to enhance community participation and involvement in UNAIDS work at the national, regional and international levels.
- Caren Badalyan, Eurasian Key Populations Health Network, incoming Europe Delegate
Being present in the UNAIDS PCB after many years, I think the UNAIDS PCB looks much more organized and fit for its purpose. The NGO Delegation deserves my acknowledgement. When I was in the Delegation before (2007-2009), the Communication and Consultation Facility (CCF), the technical support provider for the NGO Delegation, did not yet exist. My colleagues and I presented and advocated for the CCF and I am very glad it got approval. I see the results of investing in communities and civil society.
For me, the best part of the 45th PCB Meeting was the Thematic Segment about the impact of AIDS in children and youth. The decrease of vertical transmission of HIV affected the functionality of the HIV pediatric market. For good reasons, we have less children born with HIV, but a small market looks less attractive for the pharmaceutical industry. The NGO Delegation in the PCB made sure this reality gets the recognition it deserves. Wake up, our children are dying! This is what we said.
I was impressed with the new Executive Director of UNAIDS, Winnie Byanyima, after the rocky period that UNAIDS just went through. I am confident that Winnie will take us through the next phase.
- Gracia Violeta Ross Quiroga, Bolivian Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, incoming Latin America and the Caribbean Delegate
A Caribbean boy representing one of two Latin America and Caribbean Delegates at the UNAIDS PCB means a lot to him and those he has been representing, including communities affected by HIV in his work with civil society.
Attending my first PCB was an experience that allowed me to understand the UN system as it relates to governance and strategic decision-making regarding HIV/AIDs globally, and how systems of government and procedures are used to ensure that political will is in alignment with what is needed, e.g., human rights and protection of communities around the world.
I particularly took a keen interest in the thematic segment of the PCB meeting which focused on adolescents and young people, as this allowed for direct conversation and interaction with technocrats and community representatives who are on the ground working and advocating globally. This represented for me the core of what the response should look like and how it should continue as we push towards the fast track targets.
- Jumoke Patrick, The Jamaican Network of Seropositives, incoming Latin America and the Caribbean Delegate
Tags: 45th PCB Meeting
The NGO Delegation's Communique for the 44th UNAIDS PCB Meeting is already out. The Communique contains the following sections: Report of the Executive Director; Report of the Chair of the Committee of Cosponsoring Organisations; Report of the PCB working group to strengthen monitoring and evaluation role on zero tolerance against harassment, including sexual harassment, bullying and abuse of power at the UNAIDS secretariat; Update on strategic human resources issues; Unified Budget, Results, and Accountability Framework (UBRAF); Nomination of the next Executive Director of UNAIDS; Thematic Segment.
With the shadow of the challenging 43rd Programme Coordinating Board (PCB) meeting in December 2018 fresh in our minds, there were significant concerns about what we could expect at the 44th PCB, which took place on June 25-27, 2019, in Geneva, Switzerland. Chaired by Mr. Xia Gang,Deputy Director-General of the National Health Commission of China,the 44th PCB was held at Starling Hotel and not at our usual venue, the WHO Executive Boardroom. A heatwave across western Europe meant we were anticipating scorchingly hot temperatures for the whole PCB week - an apt backdrop for the heated discussions expected throughout the PCB.
The June PCB has traditionally been the ‘housekeeping’ meeting for the administrative and governance aspects of the Joint Programme. But this was also the PCB where the selection of the new Executive Director would be discussed, as well as the Management Action Plan and Report of the Working Group of the Programme Coordinating Board (PCB) to strengthen the PCB’s monitoring and evaluation role on zero tolerance against harassment, including sexual harassment, bullying and abuse of power at the UNAIDS Secretariat.
The agenda for the first two days was planned to run from 9 am to 9 pm with a third full day for the Thematic Segment on Delivering on SDG3: Strengthening and Integrating Comprehensive HIV Responses into Sustainable Health Systems for Universal Health Coverage.
Surprisingly, each day ended ahead of schedule, a likely result of China’s chairing, which included traffic lights to remind PCB members and observers when to wrap up and end their interventions. A clear set of decision points were agreed upon on the floor of the PCB often ahead of the time allotted in the agenda.
The NGO Delegation held numerous side meetings with civil society, cosponsors and member states to discuss issues of concern, hear and raise important perspectives and manage potential areas of conflict. Importantly, the regional and global civil society calls prior to the PCB and debrief sessions with CS observers throughout provided an important opportunity for us to maintain a community-centered perspective to the key issues being presented.
There was vocalisation of support for collective action to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 by all present at the meeting. There was firm support for the importance of maintaining a strong and independent UNAIDS. And there was a clear sense that delays could not be afforded and that we needed to move forward in the ‘housekeeping business’ to enable progress to meet these goals.
Aditia Taslim, Asia and the Pacific Delegate
UNAIDS is currently at an important chapter in its existence, with the upcoming selection of a new Executive Director, the development of a new five-year strategy, and setting of new targets for 2025 and beyond. As the previous ED, Michel Sidibe, has left the organization, Gunilla Carlsson has taken the role of Executive Director, ad interim. Her role is to not only ensure a smooth transition, but also to facilitate a stronger UNAIDS through its Management Action Plan implementation and to regain the trust and confidence from the communities, partners, and Member States, particularly donor countries.
Gunilla’s report delivered the message that AIDS is not yet over. Despite the achievements globally, progress remains uneven. Many countries are still lagging behind in reaching the 2020 targets. Low treatment coverage, rising new HIV infections, crisis in HIV prevention, stigma and discrimination continue becoming regular themes that are discussed at every meeting. It is clear that we are not doing enough and there is no room for complacency.
She further noted that in the era of shrinking space of civil society, the communities of people living with HIV and key populations continue to be attacked globally and at the country level. UNAIDS must continue to be the model through its Joint Programme, in putting people most affected at the center of the response, and remain relevant in transforming the HIV response, gaining the political support, and supporting community-led responses.
AGENDA 1.4: REPORT OF THE CHAIR OF THE COMMITTEE OF COSPONSORING ORGANIZATIONS
The 44thPCB was a meeting that I was happy to be part of. Compared to my initiation meeting in December 2018, I found this to be a more progressive atmosphere as we look forward to changing and achieving the UNAIDS we need. What would be great to see is greater and meaningful involvement of People Living with HIV in the work of the Cosponsors especially in countries to keep the important community organisation work going and to see fruits from the collaborations. Community organisations in the response, especially young women-led, are important partners that cannot be overlooked, yet, many are still struggling to survive. With UNFPA as the Chair of the Committee of Cosponsoring Organizations (CCO) in the PCB for 2019, the ICPD 25 is also a pivotal arena for engagement. Taking place in November 2019 in Nairobi, Kenya, ICPD25 must take the voices of the community, especially young people, into consideration, and ensure that the next commitments made, and concrete actions taken, are with them, for them, and by them, and that accountability measures are in place.
What also struck me was when UNFPA Executive Director Ms. Natalia Kanem asked for a meeting with the NGO Delegation, to get our perspectives as representatives of civil society and communities. As the CCO is in process to recommend a candidate or candidates to the UN Secretary General for the UNAIDS Executive Director from among the five candidates identified, this was a reminder that our voices matter and why UNAIDS as a UN Joint Programme exists.
AGENDA 3: REPORT OF THE PCB WORKING GROUP TO STRENGTHEN MONITORING AND EVALUATION ROLE ON ZERO TOLERANCE AGAINST HARASSMENT, INCLUDING SEXUAL HARASSMENT, BULLYING AND ABUSE OF POWER AT THE UNAIDS SECRETARIAT
After the presentation of the Independent Expert Panel (IEP) report at the 43rd PCB meeting in December 2018, it was clear that both the working environment at the Secretariat in Geneva and the various regional and country offices of UNAIDS, as well as the public image and reputation of UNAIDS, were negatively impacted by the lack of appropriate senior management action to protect its staff from (sexual) harassment, bullying, and abuse of power. A working group was established to advise the PCB on how to strengthen its monitoring and evaluation role on all of the above-mentioned forms of misconduct at the Secretariat.
The working group, which included two representatives from the NGO Delegation, was very positive in its opinion about the revised management action plan (MAP) that the Secretariat made in order to eliminate all of these forms of misconduct. The PCB adopted the report and its recommendations to implement the MAP fully. Subsequently, the PCB decided to establish an independent evaluation office that reports directly to the PCB.
It could not, however, reach consensus on a number of issues that related directly to the oversight role of the PCB on human resources (HR) related issues. Although this agenda item seemed very internally focused for many civil society observers and very distant to the actual work of UNAIDS, at the core of this discussion lay very fundamental discussions among member states on how UNAIDS should function as a Joint Programme.
On the one hand, you have a number of member states who believe that better oversight by the PCB of human resources and the full implementation of the MAP is needed to avoid any of the recent crises from reoccurring. On the other hand, a number of member states believe that a new ED and fresh focus by the PCB will be sufficient. Member states also differed as to whether changing the PCB’s oversight role in human resources requires going back to ECOSOC for a new resolution on UNAIDS.
The NGO Delegation has a strong position that going back to ECOSOC in this current global climate, where not only UNAIDS, but the United Nations as a whole is under threat, will weaken the Joint Programme and potentially lead to the loss of community and civil society space on the PCB. We believe that current governance mechanisms under the ECOSOC resolution are sufficient for the future, and that a middle way is possible where a better focus by PCB members and better HR reporting by the Secretariat can ensure the workplace staff’s need to thrive and deliver.
AGENDA 4: UPDATE ON STRATEGIC HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT ISSUES
Millie Milton, Latin America and the Caribbean Delegate
A fit-for-all work-force is the ideal workplace that UNAIDS Secretariat is aiming to achieve. Human resource management involves both strategic and comprehensive approaches to managing people, as well as workplace culture and environment.The 25% reduction of staff not only negatively impacted on the smooth operation of the Secretariat, but also on the delivery of its programmes.
The NGO Delegation noted issues in the report such as the time for filling vacancies was too long and that the annual mobility exercise needed to be more specific in the reason or criteria used to promote staff. We also noted that there is no gender balance in staff employment, for instance, there was no mention of a transgender person being employed.
In terms of training, it is important for training needs to be identified and training in leadership to be increased. Face-to-face trainings are more impactful and should be explored more.
AGENDA 7: UNIFIED BUDGET, RESULTS AND ACCOUNTABILITY FRAMEWORK (UBRAF)
The Unified Budget, Results and Accountability Framework (UBRAF) is a cornerstone to the June PCB meeting, as it involves the performance and financial reporting for UNAIDS and the UN Cosponsors. The UBRAF reports were organized around three agenda items: performance, finances and budgeting. In each area, some member states were selected to highlight. The UBRAF was accepted with particular note of coordinating country-level work across UN agencies, encouraging donor governments to make multi-year contributions and to fulfill their 2018-19 commitments, and to look ahead to the next budgeting process.
The NGO Delegation delivered three interventions on UBRAF: 1) insisting that UNAIDS be more transparent with where the money is for civil society; 2) pay closer attention to the disparities between policy acceptance and policy implementation in policy indicators; and, 3) encourage country-level programs to focus on harm reduction and human rights approaches.
Across these interventions, we noted that country envelopes were not developed with meaningful input from key population networks, as well as advocates for women and girls. We cautioned UNAIDS to take into account political landscapes in country envelopes and country transition plans, as those of us who are marginalized and criminalized are most likely to be overlooked. Furthermore, it is also equally important for the communities to reach out to their respective UNAIDS country office and demand the space in decision-making process. A detailed-list of countries receiving country envelope allocation can be found here (p.7-8).
AGENDA 8: NOMINATION OF THE NEXT EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF UNAIDS
At a critical time in the HIV response, when the future of the Joint Programme is being debated in global health architecture, who leads UNAIDS is crucial to the success of the global AIDS response.
For the last few months, a process has been underway to select the next UNAIDS Executive Director. Following the precedent of the last ED selection in 2008, a Search Committee was constituted by the PCB made up of five member states, four co-sponsors, and the two NGO Delegation members who sit in the PCB Bureau. A world-wide search was held focusing on all regions and involving both applications, as well as head-hunting. Because of the confidentiality of a high-profile recruitment such as this, the whole Search Committee had to sign non-disclosure agreements. That meant the two NGO delegates had to operate in an unusual way for civil society; without any ability to consult or report back, even within the NGO Delegation. Nevertheless, they took the values and principles of civil society into PCB discussions that ended with the search criteria and the search process, itself.
After a rigorous process involving short-listing, interviews by the Committee, and discussion at the PCB, the Committee recommended five candidates to the Co-sponsors in the last week of June. Co-sponsors will interview all five candidates in July and recommend one or more names to the UN Secretary General who will then appoint a new ED.
As mentioned during the PCB Special Session in March 2019, the NGO Delegation re-emphasized the value of having someone from the global South to lead such an important movement, given that this is where majority of people living with and affected by HIV come from. We look forward to working with a new ED who will strengthen UNAIDS and steer the global response with and for key populations and all those affected by HIV.
AGENDA 9: THEMATIC SEGMENT
Held on June 27th, 2019, the 44thThematic Segment aimed to examine ways in which the HIV response could leverage the potential benefits of UHC, while avoiding any potential pitfalls and optimizing on the successes and lessons learnt through the HIV and AIDS response. Keynote speeches were delivered by Rico Gustav, Executive Director of GNP+ and Ambassador Cleopa Mailu of Kenya. They provided insights on opportunities and challenges that have to be navigated and possible ways forward to ensure UHC incorporates relevant SDGs and comprehensive approaches to HIV. This was followed by three panels focusing on: HIV focused programmes which have evolved into integrated platforms for comprehensive health services; achievements and challenges in providing comprehensive, inclusive and non-discriminatory services, including HIV services integrated within broader health services including those targeted to key populations; and financing mechanisms and governance issues in the move to UHC.
In the discussion, it became clear that there was an uneven inclusion of HIV key populations and holistic HIV wraparound services. In terms of key populations, the meaningful inclusion of sex workers, people who use drugs, trans communities, gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men, and people living with HIV has been a key part and unique to the HIV response, including shaping policies. Beyond HIV treatment, HIV services have included HIV prevention, sexual and reproductive health and rights, harm reduction, mental health and legal advocacy. The NGO Delegation is concerned with UHC moving forward without including both key populations and holistic HIV wraparound services.
Throughout the day, tough questions were raised ranging from: How universal will UHC be? What will be the essential packages, how and who will design them? How will social enablers be integrated? What about sexual and reproductive health and rights? How accessible will these services be for key populations? What mechanisms will be instituted to ensure the right to access for all? What mechanisms will be used to ensure civil society and key populations are part of the UHC governance? Specific proposals and solutions were discussed and interventions from the floor highlighted gaps and other solutions that needed to be considered.
The NGO Delegation, along with civil society speakers and Thematic Civil Society Advisory Group (CSAG) developed the following key messages:
The NGO Delegation plans to continue pushing these messages to influence any discussions prior and during the High Level Meeting (HLM) on UHC to be held in New York in September 2019. Mindful that negotiations on the draft Declaration is in progress, we have also adopted the UHC Statement by Civil Society released in April 2019 as part of the preparatory advocacy activities for the HLM.
A report of the Thematic will be tabled at the December PCB meeting and Decision Points (DPs) will be negotiated and adapted.
Tags: 44th PCB Meeting
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