​44th PCB - Intervention by Alexander Pastoors - Agenda item 8 Nomination of the next Executive Director of UNAIDS

Delivered by Alexander Pastoors, Europe NGO Delegate

Thank you Chair,

I speak on behalf of the NGO Delegation.

Across civil society globally, there is a wide spectrum of views on the candidates. That is healthy, and perhaps to be expected. You will hear from two of my colleagues in the Delegation who will each articulate views from constituencies they represent.

The Delegation agrees that the search process was fair, sound, well-executed, and should be applauded. Our task now is to take the product from that search and to make wise and skillful choices.

We also agreed that our next Executive Director should come from the global south. That is a non-negotiable from our standpoint. Across our various constituencies and representations, three of the five candidates stand out as the most preferred for the job. They are, in no particular order, Winnie Byanyima, Bernard Haufiku and Salim Abdool Karin.

Obviously, we need the new ED to strongly support community-led responses at all levels and take the UNAIDS community partnership to another level, so together we will continue to lead the success of the HIV response. She, or he, should be bold enough to challenge populist governments in this era where political leaders misconstrue facts or simply deny scientific evidence, and continue to criminalize key populations who are highly impacted by HIV.

In addition, the AIDS response in the past as well as in the future, has and will rely heavily on understanding the science. That is key. On a personal note, as a gay man living with HIV, I owe the fact that I’m still alive today, 17 years after I got infected, to the rigorous and steadfast application of the latest scientific evidence in my country's public health response curbing the HIV-epidemic. If it wasn't for scientists like Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and the late Joep Lange for instance, the world would be a darker place and many more people would have died. If it were not for communities fighting for human rights and people-centered approaches, we also won’t be here. It is therefore of the utmost importance that the next executive director of UNAIDS is steeped in both the science of the epidemic, as well as the political and structural dimensions of the epidemic.

The new ED should be a person that, definitely will leave no people with trans experience, no sex workers, no gay men and other men who have sex with men, no people who use drugs, and especially not women, adolescents and girls behind. We need a dynamic person who will lead a stronger UNAIDS as a dedicated joint programme in the achievement of the next milestone of the HIV response, to end AIDS by 2030.


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