Feature story

A stronger civil society voice in the UNAIDS work

11 April 2008

20080411_CF_200.jpg
L to R: Violeta Ross Quiroga, the PCB
NGO alternate delegate from Latin
America and the Caribbean with Marcel
Van Soest, Executive Director of the World
AIDS Campaign (WAC). 02 April 2008,
Geneva. Photo credit: UNAIDS

Civil society plays a key role in the response to the AIDS epidemic in countries around the world. Therefore it is imperative for UNAIDS to secure input from the full spectrum of civil society, including people living with HIV, at its Programme Coordinating Board meetings.

UNAIDS is guided by a Programme Coordinating Board (PCB) which is composed of representatives of 22 governments from all geographic regions, the ten UNAIDS Cosponsoring organizations, and five representatives of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) who are elected on a regional basis. The UNAIDS PCB NGO Delegation is the first civil society delegation formally represented on a UN governing board.

In an effort to further enhance participation of civil society in policy decision-making at the global level, the PCB NGO Delegation has created a Communications Facility (CF), an independent mechanism that will strengthen the capacity of the delegation to bring forward a unified and consolidated message from their constituencies to the Board meetings of UNAIDS. Therefore, The CF will compile regional and country level civil society priorities on AIDS for the NGO Delegation to advocate for them at the global level.

This CF was established on 2 April 2008 with the recruitment of a consortium comprising the World AIDS Campaign (WAC) and Health & Development Networks (HDN) which will be its host for the next two years with funding provided by UNAIDS. This follows a competitive bidding process that was launched by the UNAIDS Secretariat after the 20th meeting of the PCB agreed on the establishment of a Communication Facility. The PCB will evaluate the progress made by the CF at the end of the two year period.

Under the leadership of the PCB NGO Delegation, the CF plans to work in two ways. On the one hand, it will ensure that the broad and diverse community voices are heard and influence the development of international policies that meet their needs. To that end, it will host conference calls for the Delegation; draft of the Delegation stakeholders map and related information needs; capacity-building for Delegation members on presentation and negotiation skills or drafting the Delegation’s annual report.

On the other, it will better inform civil society about the decisions and recommendations adopted at global level by the PCB by developing and distributing PCB related fact sheets or post-PCB meeting summaries; and develop an interactive web site among other activities.

The CF will support the non-governmental delegation by also linking them to other civil society delegations focusing on HIV such as those to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFATM) and UNITAID, and actively develop and nurture a ‘pool’ of civil society representatives who will provide technical support and advice to the NGO Delegation on issues relevant to the global HIV issues and the UNAIDS PCB agenda.

‘’For NGOs sitting on the UNAIDS board, it is important to have a strong independent and coordinated communication and outreach tool to ensure that the community voices are faithfully represented in the board”, said Violeta Ross Quiroga, the PCB NGO alternate delegate from Latin-America and the Caribbean.

“The voices of communities must be heard and they must include all segments of the wider civil society working towards Universal Access targets. This stands as one of the core goals of the Communication Facility, which is also another step towards the achievement of the GIPA principle.’’ She added.

The 22nd Meeting of the Programme Coordinating Board will take place in Chiang Mai, Thailand, 23 - 25 April 2008.

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External links:

World AIDS Campaign

Health and Development Network