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35th UNAIDS PCB Meeting NGO Delegation Communiqué
In this issue:
The 35th meeting of the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board (PCB) took place 9-11 December 2014 (meeting agenda). The NGO Delegation and our civil society colleagues had anticipated that this PCB meeting would be eventful but we underestimated the extent to which this would be true. Intense negotiations with Member States started the weekend before the meeting and continued until early in the evening on December 11th. A highlight of the meeting for civil society was the Executive Director’s (ED) pledge to lead by example to meet the three-fold increase in funding that is needed for civil society to effectively conduct HIV advocacy and service work (read and download the fast-tracking report here).
The 2014 NGO Report on Intellectual Property Barriers to Treatment Access (read here) was expectedly, the most controversial topic at the 35th meeting. This topic brought profound disagreements into open discussion about the role that UNAIDS ought to play in helping countries overcome these barriers and the proper balance between trade and public health, and between profit and the right to development.
Other topics that motivated extensive debate and negotiation focused on the ED’s request to update the UNAIDS strategy in 2015, the thematic session on social protection (from the 34th PCB meeting), the Post-2015 agenda, gaps in paediatric prevention, treatment, care and support, and addressing HIV-related stigma and discrimination. The thematic segment on halving HIV transmission among people who inject drugs (read the background document here) brought powerful testimonies to the floor about governmental failures to protect the lives and other human rights of people who use drugs. Further information about each of these issues is provided in the body of this communiqué.
The important role of the UN in a world characterized by new and emerging power structures was the focus of the “Leadership in the AIDS response” address by Danish Ambassador Carsten Stauer. The NGO Delegation was in agreement with the premise of the address as it applies to UNAIDS: that the Joint Programme continues to have a critical convening, communicating, coordinating and expert advisory role in the response to the HIV epidemic. We see UNAIDS as a leader for the meaningful involvement of civil society, especially affected communities, in decision-making.
Throughout the 35th PCB meeting, the NGO Delegation found itself performing a new role: that of floor-managing Decision Points (DPs), including convening dialogues between Member States and Co-Sponsors to create consensus. Without dropping our other intervention and negotiation responsibilities, we managed the background consensus process for the social protection thematic, the paediatric gap report, and the stigma and discrimination DPs.
As a Delegation, we express our gratitude to our civil society colleagues who attended the meeting and who provided feedback on the NGO report and pre-meeting consultations. In the meeting, many civil society observers spoke out about the problems created by strict intellectual property regimes, paediatric treatment gaps, stigma and discrimination, and poor harm reduction and punitive drug policies. This demonstration of solidarity on fundamental issues strengthened the NGO Delegation and civil society work at the PCB, especially given the challenges to the legitimacy of an NGO voice expressed by some PCB Member States in 2013.
For a complete listing of all decisions approved at the 35th PCB, click here.
Tags: 35th PCB Meeting