A panel at the civil society ahead of the UN HIV/Aids High-level meeting in June. 
Photo: UN Photo.A panel at the civil society ahead of the UN HIV/Aids High-level meeting in June. Photo: UN Photo

Civil society discussion on HIV/Aids

4/11/2011 // Norwegian UN delegates were mainly in listening mode as members of civil society discussed the upcoming High-level meeting on HIV/AIDS. The participants included leaders of religious, education, business and community-based groups from many different countries.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened the meeting by crediting the unique role that civil society plays in pressuring governments to step up the fight against HIV/Aids. Mr. Ban also made a personal promise:

“I am not only asking you to act – I am pledging to take action myself. I will continue to personally urge government officials to bring us closer to our ultimate goals: no new infections, no stigma or discrimination, and no AIDS-related deaths.”

 Read the Secretary-General’s full remarks here.

Organisers of the event had promised to make the hearing both informal and interactive – and it was. Dozens of activists from various countries spoke out through the course of the day. These were some of the recurring themes; the stigma and discrimination faced by people living with HIV, access to care and services, the need for a new generation of leaders and a chronic lack of funding. The day was structured around three panels:

  • Enhancing community-level access: Opportunities for healing social and systemic ills
  • A new generation of national partnerships: Diversity in Dialogue
  • Synergies among global movements: Opportunities for shared action

Throughout the day there were several passionate calls for recognition and resources. Activists spoke of the need to see HIV as a human rights issue and for mainstreaming HIV/Aids in all spheres of life, for protection of vulnerable groups – including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people – and called on governments to recognise the role that women play in caring for the sick and Aids-orphans.

UN Member States were also encouraged to participate actively in the hearing. Norway’s representative focused on young engagement:

“There is a need to involve young people in our HIV/Aids efforts, not only to keep the focus on the risks and barriers that young people face in particular, but also to make use of their insight, competencies and creativity in a new era. Youth play an important role in fighting stigma and discrimination and as opinion makers. We regard it as important that we identify the next generation of leaders now. We need to create platforms and spaces for young voices to be heard and young leadership to evolve, not just as future leaders, but as leaders of today”, said Norway’s Deputy Permanent Representative, Ambassador Tine Mørch Smith.

The High-level Meeting is scheduled to take place from 8-10 June 2011.

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