The main focus of the 29th board meeting of UNAIDS was: 1. financial sustainability of the HIV response; 2. HIV and legal environments; and 3. how UNAIDS has addressed the recommendations made in the Second Independent Evaluation (SIE), which evaluated the work of UNAIDS between 2004 and 2009.
1. Following the cancellation of Round 11 during the Global Fund (GF) board meeting at the end of November 2011, just prior to the UNAIDS board meeting, funding considerations took centre stage in the pre-meetings of the NGO Delegation with Member States as well as in interventions on the floor. Donor Member States consistently stayed on their message of strongly supporting the new strategy of the GF and stressing that the Fund is not in financial trouble and no existing programs will be cut. The NGO Delegation focused on the Investment Framework and funding of the Global Fund to get Round 11 back on track in its interventions, as well as probing more about the Transitional Funding Mechanism being put in place to support current grants until 2014. Michel Sidibé called for a stronger Global Fund. There was a lot of interest in the Investment Framework, with the NGO Delegation and Member States pointing out a need for further consultation and discussion on this tool. The board passed a decision point asking UNAIDS "to launch as soon as possible a process of inclusive consultations to consider approaches to strategic investment, including the new investment framework for the global HIV response" and to report back on progress at the next two board meetings (June and December 2012).
2. The preparation for the meeting was dominated by the topic of HIV and the legal environment, introduced in the annual NGO report on the first day of the meeting and discussed in further detail during the thematic session on the last day. Several Member States were concerned about the strength of the decision points put forward by the NGO Delegation prior to the meeting, which called on states to work to repeal criminal laws around HIV exposure, non-disclosure and transmission, as well as homosexuality, sex work and drug use, and to ensure sexual and reproductive health rights, including safe abortions. There was concern from some Member States to the NGO Delegation that they could not accept some of the decision points concerning abortion and decriminalization of sex work and drug use, and therefore could not accept the report. In a negotiated strategy, the NGO Delegation withdrew all the decision points and presented its full report with recommendations that incorporated the decision points, gaining support from the majority of Member States on the board. The NGO Delegation will have the opportunity, as part of the follow-up to the thematic session on HIV and the law, to reintroduce and advocate for decision points in the June 2012 meeting.
The political tone of the discussion around human rights, following the presentation of the NGO report, continued to be divisive. Unlike the last board meeting, when the African Member States split in opinion and approach, Egypt seemed to lead a solid African block of Member States. The opening video presented by the NGO Delegation and overwhelmingly supportive statements at the start of the discussion around the NGO report may have contributed to more neutral responses from the African Member States, who were expected to reject the NGO report outright, but did not.
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