21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016)


Lessons Learned From the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS

July 21, 2016

Luiz Loures

Luiz Loures, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director (Credit: International AIDS Society/Rogan Ward)

A panel of seven speakers discussed the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS, which was held in New York, United States of America, from 8 to 10 June. Entitled "Bottom-up and top-down: from national to global policy work and back," the discussion was held on 20 July at the 21st International AIDS Conference, being held in Durban, South Africa.

Javier Belloqc, who as Co-Chair of the High-Level Meeting AIDS Stakeholder Task Force, noted that the Civil Society Hearing and the zero draft of the Political Declaration on Ending AIDS were part of the "honeymoon period" of the process. Community representatives spoke effectively on a range of priorities at the Civil Society Hearing and ensured that the zero draft included strong language on human rights, key populations and other issues. However, some of this language was lost and he found the process of developing the Political Declaration less and less transparent.

Lambert Grijns, an ambassador from the Netherlands, pointed out many of the positive aspects of the Political Declaration, including language on human rights, eradicating stigma, harm reduction and gender-based violence and the first use of the word "transgender" in a United Nations declaration. However, he identified several areas that fell short, including on key populations and comprehensive sexuality education.


Luiz Loures, Deputy Executive Director of UNAIDS, said he was pleased with the very bold Political Declaration targets on prevention and treatment, including treatment access for children, and on new technologies such as pre-exposure prophylaxis, but was disappointed by the absence of key populations being explicitly a part of the Political Declaration.

Louise van Deth of Stop AIDS Now! asked how civil society can influence United Nations diplomats in New York. Nadia Isler, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations, noted that there is no recipe for influencing decision-makers, in part because the world is constantly changing.

Alessandra Nilo of Gestos noted that the High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS happened because civil society demanded that it happen and that the recognition of transgender people was groundbreaking. She added that the next step would be to translate the Political Declaration into progress in countries and to work at the national level.  


Not making key populations more explicitly part of the Political Declaration on Ending AIDS, with clear service targets for them, does not represent the epidemic we have today.

-- Luiz Loures, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director

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This article was provided by UNAIDS. It is a part of the publication The 21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016). Visit UNAIDS' website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.

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