The Civil Society Interactive Hearing and related processes

April 28, 2011

Posted by Mike Podmore

Policy Manager, International HIV/AIDS Alliance

This June there will be a UN High Level Meeting (HLM) on HIV from 8 – 10 June 2011 in New York. This meeting is particularly important because it will most likely be the last HIV specific UN General Assembly meeting. We believe the meeting will be critical for making sure that HIV stays an important global priority and is effectively linked with the other Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Therefore we are working hard to influence the process and the final declaration of commitment that the meeting will produce.

On Friday 8 April, a global civil society meeting was held in New York to prepare for the UN High Level meeting in June. The meeting was an opportunity to have a dialogue with civil society before the negotiations with governments begin. It was lightening trip but very productive. I joined Alliance staff from Ukraine, India and the US to participate in the meeting. Our aim was to ensure that Alliance messages were heard loud and clear, to collaborate with other civil society organisations in constructing ICASO global civil society calls and to have discussions with member states and technical agencies on how we can achieve our joint aims at the HLM.

Prior to the official civil society meeting there were a number of preparatory meetings where we met with other key networks and organizations to construct global key messages. These messages were then fed to those people speaking at the main event the next day and are being distributed to member states to influence their positions for the meeting in June.

On Friday 8th April, the Civil Society Interactive Hearing was held in the UN General Assembly Hall. The UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and Michel Sidibe the Director of UNAIDS opened the meeting. We were pleased to see they made good mention of the importance of prevention, human rights and key populations, but disappointed that there was not a single mention of care and support in either of their speeches.

The rest of the meeting was split into three panels on Community‐Level Access, National Partnerships and Synergies Among Global Movements. It will always be a challenge to cover everything that needs to be said in such meetings but, despite very comprehensive civil society pre-meetings, key issues were neglected such as GIPA (Greater Involvement of People Living with HIV), the epidemics in southern and eastern Africa, care and support and children affected by HIV. Many of the participants also felt that unfortunately the discussions lacked passion and urgency and noted sadly that there was also very low participation from government and technical agencies.

However, as is often the case at such official meetings, the best outcomes are achieved not in the main hall but in the side meetings and corridor chats. We were able to have some very productive planning meetings with global civil society organisations and member states on how to push the key issues that are likely to be neglected, such as sexual reproductive rights and HIV services for key affected populations such as sex workers, injecting drug users, men who have sex with men and transgender people. We are now very well positioned to influence the formal negotiations with governments on the outcomes of the UN High Level Meeting.

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