Asia Catalyst

[NEWS] UNAIDS Reference Group on HIV and Human Rights Statement on Crisis of HIV Funding

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Geneva, 30 January 2012 - The November 2011 announcement of the cancellation of the 11th round of funding of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria because of the Fund's financial difficulties presents the international community with both a health and a human rights crisis.  Since its first round of funding in 2002, the Global Fund has played an indispensable role in advancing the health and human rights goals of the global HIV response.

The Global Fund's financial difficulties are part of a broader global HIV funding crisis. This funding crisis is the most important human rights issue in the HIV response at this time. Paradoxically, funding is being flat-lined or reduced just as science, medicine and programmes are providing the tools for success against HIV.

In the view of the UNAIDS Reference Group on HIV and Human Rights, the reduction of, or failure to honour, pledged support to the Global Fund by donor governments must be understood for what it is - an abrogation of legally grounded human rights obligations.  The Reference Group also believes that, while the Global Fund and other multi and bi-lateral efforts are necessary to ensure that sufficient resources are available to fulfill the right to health, governments of many low- and middle-income countries are not meeting human rights obligations to their people by failing to budget adequately for health. The Global Fund and other forms of international assistance are indispensible, but are not an excuse for developing countries to underfund health generally and HIV specifically. 

In this context, the Reference Group makes a number of recommendations, including:

  • States should reaffirm their shared responsibility to realize the human rights to health by adequately funding the HIV response.   The massive gains in access to HIV prevention, treatment and care services made possible through the Global Fund will be jeopardized if high-income governments fail to live up to their pledges, delay payment of the pledges, and/or fail to commit to increased funding for the Global Fund. Recipient governments must likewise increase their own domestic spending for HIV programmes and honour their commitments to increase general health spending.
  • The UNAIDS Executive Director and the staff of the Joint Programme, in the Secretariat and Co-sponsors, should be strong, vocal and consistent advocates for the restoration and increase of financial support to the global AIDS response, including to the Global Fund as one of its main financing mechanisms.

The full text of the Reference Group statement and recommendations can be accessed, in EnglishFrenchSpanish and Russian, via the website of the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board NGO Delegation at http://unaidspcbngo.org/.

The UNAIDS Reference Group on HIV and Human Rights was established in 2002 to advise the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS on all matters relating to HIV and human rights. The Reference Group speaks with an independent voice; thus, its views do not necessarily reflect the views of the UNAIDS Secretariat or any of the UNAIDS Cosponsors.

The Reference Group thanks Michel Kazatchkine for his leadership and, in particular, for his strong support of human rights during his years at the Global Fund. It urges the incoming, new management to approach the funding crisis as a human rights issue and looks forward to working with it, in particular to ensure full funding of the Global Fund andto support the timely implementation of the human rights components of the new Global Fund strategy.

For additional information about the Reference Group or its statement and recommendations, contact Ralf Jürgens, Reference Group Secretariat, at rjurgens@sympatico.ca.

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