As part of their mandate to build relationships between the Anglican Community and UN bodies based in Geneva, representatives from AUNO Geneva were recently amongst the 300 or so participants to attend the 20th meeting of the UNAIDS Programme Co-ordinating Board (PCB).
UNAIDS, the UN body responsible for co-ordinating United Nations’ efforts in the global fight against HIV and AIDS, works in partnership with governments, civil society, donors and the private sector worldwide. The Anglican Communion is one such partner – evidenced by the fact that UNAIDS is part-funding a current AUNO Geneva project to map the Anglican involvement in HIV/AIDs prevention, care and treatment.
- How much room is there for NGOs at the UN?
UNAIDS’ approach to working with its partners is unique when compared with any other UN entities. Not only do governments and other UN agencies guide the work of UNAIDS by sitting on the PCB, so does a delegation representing NGOs and civil society. In fact, one of the issues high on this year’s agenda was a review of civil society participation in the PCB. In light of this, the PCB, although declining to give the NGO delegation a vote, recognised the need to provide stronger support to the NGO delegation. To do this, the PCB endorsed the creation of a Communication and Consultation Facility to enhance civil society involvement in the PCB.
- How can we make the money work?
UNAIDS has an annual Budget of more than US$4.5 million, however echoing the title of UNAIDS’ inaugural Annual Report for 2006 ‘Make the Money Woork’, this PCB paid particular attention to ensuring that its money be translated into action. One of the hot issues was collaboration with external international organisations involved in HIV/AIDS funding. The end result was that the PCB instructed UNAIDS to develop an Independent Review Mechanism to validate national AIDS plans as eligible for international funding, and called on UNAIDS to act as a clearing house for the provision of technical support for low- and middle-income countries as they access international funding. In particular, the PCB encouraged UNAIDS and the Global Fund to strengthen their working relationship.
One other important issue was that of UN reform and the role of UNAIDS therein. Amidst the implementation of several ‘One UN’ pilot projects in countries like Rwanda, the PCB cited UNAIDS as a ‘pathfinder’ for UN reform, and recommended that current coherence efforts be informed by the UNAIDS experience. UNAIDS Executive Director, Dr Peter Piot, presented his report on the first day of the meeting and stressed, ‘This is not the time for new initiatives but for consolidation. It is time to concentrate on results and on accountability.’ He added, ‘Some sceptics dispute the UN’s capacity to deliver as one. AIDS, however, proves that we can do it. I want to highlight the momentum that is gathering around coherence and implementation.’
On a less bureaucratic note, the PCB strongly emphasised the need to address gender-based vulnerabilities of both women and men to HIV. It urged governments, donors and UNAIDS to expand efforts to address inequality between women and men, and gender-based violence.
The next PCB meeting will be held in December 2007 in Geneva. The AUNO Geneva will ensure an Anglican presence at that meeting, as it is important that NGOs and faith-based organisations make the most of increased opportunities to engage therein.
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