Delivered by Aditia Taslim Lim, Asia Pacific NGO Delegate
Mr. Chair, today marks the international day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking. Allow me to take this opportunity to recall the number of people who have died in the war on drugs, because countries have failed to provide services and protect the rights of people who use drugs. 450,000 drug-related deaths were recorded at the end of 2015, a dramatic increase of 150% compared to 2009. A reported 27,000 people have been killed in the Philippines as a result of a crackdown and extrajudicial killings. A record high of 71,500 overdose related death in the US, 4,000 in Canada and 9,000 in Europe in 2017. Our communities have been pushed to the margins of society, harassed, imprisoned, tortured, denied services, and in some countries, executed.
An estimated $100 Billion are spent annually to reduce the supply and demand for drugs which have not resulted in a reduction in the number of people who use drugs. When evidenced-based programs such as harm reduction, remain underfunded in many countries, people who inject drugs are made more vulnerable. As we speak today, many people in different parts of the world are being executed. As a person who uses drugs and as someone whose life has been saved by harm reduction services, I ask you to end the war on drugs.
At the 43rd PCB, the NGO Delegation expressed its concern over the lack of participation of key populations and the community in decision making of the country envelope process. This year, unfortunately, very little progress has been made. Reflecting on last year’s country envelope allocation, it is disheartening to see that only 8% was made towards human rights program, 3% on gender and gender-based violence, and 2% on the humanitarian program. On the other hand, 32% allocation was spent on test and treatment, even as many of these 71 countries also receive funding from Global Fund and PEPFAR for test and treatment.
With many countries moving into increased domestic funding and social contracting mechanism, we note that much of this funding comes with restrictions, including social enabling activities, advocacy, human rights- and gender-related activities.
These situations clearly show the shrinking space of civil society and most importantly, the shrinking of funding for community-led responses. UNAIDS must continue to champion greater and meaningful involvement of people living with HIV and key populations in decision-making process, to ensure funding for key populations and communities.
We would also like to see UNAIDS along with UN Cosponsors engage more in difficult conversations such as harm reduction, drug decriminalisation and sexual reproductive health and rights, particularly in countries where conservatism is rising and repressive policies and practices are the norms.
As I mentioned yesterday, we cannot be complacent. We cannot do business as usual. It is time for dedicated and fearless actions as repressive politics undermine key populations globally.
Tags: 44th PCB Meeting, UBRAF