Ambassador William (Bill) Garvelink speaking at the opening plenary of
the 27th PCB Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland on December 8, 2010.
(Photo: U.S. Mission Geneva)
The 27th meeting of the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board (PCB) recently took place in Geneva, Switzerland from December 6 - 8, 2010. The Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF) was in attendance, and MSMGF Executive Officer Dr. George Ayala was confirmed as an NGO Delegate for the North American region at this meeting. Dr. Ayala will serve in this position for a period of two years with the other North American NGO Delegate, Ebony Johnson of the International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS (ICW).
At the meeting, the PCB adopted a new five year UNAIDS strategy to be implemented beginning in 2011 that seeks to reinvigorate the global AIDS response. The Strategy includes robust human-rights language and implores national governments to address the needs of at-risk populations including men who have sex with men and transgender people. The PCB meeting also took note of the global failure to achieve Universal Access, a target that was set for 2010. In preparation for the High-Level Meeting in June 2011, the PCB meeting provided important opportunities for discussion around sound civil society input and future scale-up strategies for realizing Universal Access.
The MSMGF is eager to work with its partners and other NGO delegates to the PCB to support the UNAIDS 2011-2015 Strategy on behalf of MSM and other key populations, including transgender people, sex workers, and people who use drugs.
The full communiqué from the meeting is provided below. It is also available at http://unaidspcbngo.org/?p=8863
What happened at the 27th meeting of the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board (PCB) in Geneva, Switzerland, December 6-9, 2010?
The board adopted the new UNAIDS Strategy with the support of the NGO Delegation. Despite the removal of the word criminalization from the last version of the document, the strategy addresses the removal of punitive laws and upholds strong human rights language. As well, the board reviewed UNAIDS' progress in implementing the recommendations of the Second Independent Evaluation (SIE) of UNAIDS. The NGO Delegation, as well as other board members, asked UNAIDS to more fully respond to several aspects of the evaluation recommendations, looking for more impact rather than simply a report back on activities. The board reviewed the progress report on the Agenda for Action for Women and Girls, which has been found to be lacking in detail on country level roll out, and ensured that future activities and costing would be reflected in the next UNAIDS budget (called the Unified Budget and Accountability Framework or UBAF). The universal access agenda item did not include the analytical discussions that the NGO Delegation had requested and rather focused on the process of getting to the review meeting in June.
The strong presence of civil society was once again influential in this meeting. The civil society partnerships unit at UNAIDS took advantage of the large number of Observers to host two side meetings regarding preparation for the June 2011 UNGASSS High Level Meeting. One meeting was held with the co-facilitators, Botswana and Australia, and one strategizing meeting was co-hosted with the International Council of AIDS Service Organizations (ICASO).
THANK YOU to the civil society Observers who supported the NGO Delegation!
Report from the Executive Director
Executive Director Michel Sidibé focused on efficiency in this year's report to the board, entitled "Value for money: now more than ever," concentrating on how to do more with less money. He talked about the need to work smart, with heart, as we continue to focus on closing the gap between treatment and prevention. He referenced the new UNAIDS strategy as a way to "galvanize international political leadership at this difficult time by focusing on better results and improving the return on our investments."
Key note address by Françoise Barré-Sinoussi
Nobel Laureate Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, who co-chairs the Prevention Commission, addressed the board, with a presentation that reviewed the science of HIV to date and reminded us of the interconnectedness of prevention, treatment, social justice and human rights.
Prevention technologies lunch session
In order to address a previous UNAIDS board decision to report back on new prevention technologies within a tight agenda, UNAIDS hosted a lunchtime session on this topic. The presenters discussed the momentum on the ground around HIV prevention technologies, which must be met by countries investing in commodities and programming. The results of the Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) study, called iPrEx, were discussed, reinforcing that adherence and uptake have a significant impact on reducing viral load. The panelists also provided an update on the next generation of female condoms, as well as a resource tracking on male and female condoms. Participants stressed the important role of UNAIDS in preparation for new prevention technologies, such as research, roll-out, and funding.
UNAIDS Strategy 2011-2015
While there were limitations in the strategy, the NGO Delegation supported its passage at the board. The strategy supports universal access for marginalized and vulnerable groups via its strong human rights language, despite the lack of direct reference to 'criminalization.' Various member states were not comfortable with the strong wording of the strategy, and Iran wanted to add a clause taking into account 'national contexts.' The NGO Delegation fought against this, and the board passed the strategy with only Iran disassociating itself with the decision point, and adding a clause in footnote. This demonstrates a strong achievement in a repressive political climate that is questioning human rights language.
Second Independent Evaluation of UNAIDS: Progress report on implementation
Despite the board paper submitted by UNAIDS reporting success in all areas of implementation, the NGO Delegation and other board members did not find the recommendations of the evaluation to be fully implemented. The NGO Delegation pointed out several areas that remain incomplete:
• The UNAIDS partnership strategy with civil society, which intends to look at how Cosponsors and the Secretariat engage with civil society coherently, has not yet been started. A group should be convened to discuss the next steps on this partnership strategy and the NGO Delegation will engage to ensure transparency, inclusiveness and accountability.
• Commitments to have adequate staff qualified in human rights and gender equality have not been met, and there seem to be no clear plans to do so.
• The role of UNAIDS in health systems strengthening remains unclear despite the formation of a working group that ends next March.
• The new memorandum of understanding between the Secretariat and the Cosponsors has not been agreed.
• The technical support strategy is not implementable as it was presented. The NGO Delegation, along with Members States, insisted that the strategy presented was not sufficient, so it will come back to the board in December 2011.
• The new division of labor of how Cosponsors and the Secretariat will work to achieve universal access does not reflect clear changes in ways of working. Board members are awaiting the "guidance note" that should accompany the breakdown of tasks and explain how roles were determined.
Report of the PCB Task Force on SIE follow-up related to all aspects of Governance
As part of the follow up to the Evaluation, a task force on governance was formed. The NGO Delegation representative worked to ensure that civil society retains a strong role in board meetings. This report valued civil society representation on the board. The report also clarified the role of board officers and conduct of meetings. The NGO Delegate ensured that the report recognized the importance of having strategic decision points that make political statements, in addition to actionable items.
Gender sensitivity of the AIDS response
A report was given to the board on the implementation of the Agenda for Accelerated Country Action for Women, Girls, Gender Equality and HIV. Unfortunately, this report back was combined with the outcomes of the June 2010 thematic session on Sexual and Reproductive Health integration in HIV programming. The NGO Delegation discussed this combination as weakening the attention to each and chose to make interventions separately on the two items. The NGO Delegation successfully supported and passed decision points specific to the Agenda for Action, ensuring a more comprehensive report back in June 2011, as well as the inclusion of the Agenda for Action in the future budgeting and accountability framework of UNAIDS. This will ensure that costing is carried out, funds are allocated and country level monitoring can occur.
The NGO Delegation introduced a decision point, which was adopted, to link the integration of Sexual and Reproductive Health services and HIV to meet the health needs of women and girls and key populations as defined in the UNAIDS Strategy 2011-2015 to the next budget and accountability framework.
AIDS, Security, and Humanitarian Response
UNAIDS reported back on its work in this area, as a follow up to this agenda item at the 19th PCB. The NGO Delegation pointed out that the paper reported activities but not impact and requested a more complete report back once this item has been addressed in 2011 at the Security Council. The NGO Delegation welcomed the HIV and humanitarian response agenda item but noted that this is one area where there is a need to better integrate humanitarian and HIV agencies.
The NGO Delegation expressed its disappointment in the paper presented, which essentially explains activities leading up to June 2011, but does not address the barriers to universal access or analyze potential next steps, as was requested in the preparation of this agenda item. As well, the Delegation was critical of UNAIDS leadership and what is seen as weakly addressing the review and recommitment to universal access at such a late date. The Delegation reminded the board of barriers around stigma and discrimination and of the board's June 2010 commitment to make stigma and discrimination a focus of the High Level Meeting. While the co-facilitators Botswana and Australia presented to the group, several board members expressed disappointment at the lack of strategic discussion. The NGO Delegation supported the Africa group on a decision point requesting that the Executive Director of UNAIDS advocate for funding for Universal Access and for accessibility to and affordability of quality medicines at the side meeting of the African Regional Ministers of Health during the World Health Assembly in May 2011, and at the United Nations High Level Meeting in June 2011.
Election of officers
El Salvador will move into the role of Chair; Poland was elected as Vice Chair, and Egypt as Rapporteur. The new NGO Delegates were formally approved, noting the first NGO representative from the Middle East and North Africa. See www.unaidspcbngo.org for a list of this year's NGO Delegates to the PCB.
Thematic Session: Food and nutrition security and HIV: how to ensure food and nutrition security are integral parts of HIV programming
This PCB Meeting's thematic session focused on food and nutrition interventions and HIV programming and was divided up into four breakout sessions: 1) Improving Treatment Uptake, Adherence and Success through Food Security and Adequate Nutrition for People Living with HIV, People Receiving ART and TB Treatment, and in PMTCT Interventions; 2) HIV, Food Insecurity and Social Protection: Evidence and Programming Implications; 3) National Government, Civil Society and Donor Approaches to HIV and Food and Nutrition Programmes; and 4) HIV and food and nutrition security in humanitarian emergencies. Each session included civil society speakers.
The NGO Delegation and civil society Observers tried to ensure a focus on a human rights framework, and to highlight the need for comprehensive programming that addresses underlying causes of food and nutritional insecurity across prevention, treatment, care and support. An agenda item, to follow-up on the discussions of the day and the closing panel session, will be on the June board agenda. More information, including presentations and the reports from the individual breakout sessions and the final conclusions, will be available shortly on the NGO Delegation's website.
Discussions on the High Level Meeting outside of the formal board meeting
As noted above, two side meetings were held. Civil society at country level needs to urgently engage in regional consultations as there are limited opportunities for civil society engagement prior to the June review meeting in New York. For more information, please contact Kate Thompson at UNAIDS (firstname.lastname@example.org), Pauline Harriott-Gregory at ICASO (PaulineHG@icaso.org), and watch the NGO Delegation's website.
Reminder: What is the PCB again?
The Programme Coordinating Board (PCB) is the governing body of UNAIDS. It is made up of 22 voting Member States, the 10 UN Cosponsors that make up the UNAIDS program, and a NGO Delegation (consisting of one delegate and one alternate from each of 5 regions). Please visit our website at: www.unaidspcbngo.org to see all presentations, decision points and talking points.