At UNGASS+5, a meeting which will be held from May 31 to June 2 in New York, heads of member states will adopt a Political Declaration to strengthen future HIV/AIDS response. In early May, the first draft of the Political Declaration was presented by the President of the General Assembly. Each government began deliberations on the Political Declaration. On May 12, a document which brought together each government’s recommended amendments was submitted, and on May 19, a second draft was published.
The document with brought together each country’s recommended amendments included the following five recommendations made by the Japanese government.
(1) In regards to the clause about prevention, reference to harm reduction and condom use should be eliminated.
(2) The forecasted funds required for the HIV/AIDS response, i.e. 1.8-2 billion US dollars by 2008, should be removed. Furthermore, the allocation of resources to the HIV/AIDS response should be downplayed, rewriting the clause so that donor countries’ responsibility, including Japan’s, remains ambiguous.
(3) The clause regarding WHO/TRIPS agreement that states to promote flexibility in ensuring universal access to treatment should be watered down.
All these points undermine the content of the Political Declaration, leading to a negative and weak HIV/AIDS response, which is unacceptable to civil society.
Japanese civil society has been exerting efforts in the following way regarding the Political Declaration.
First of all, on May 12, at the policy dialogue forum between Government of Japan and Japanese civil society for UNGASS+5, Japanese civil society submitted a recommendation which called for the need to include specific numerical targets in the Political Declaration and a proactive clause to address the needs of vulnerable groups, and an exchange of opinion took place.
Secondly, at the regular consultative meeting between Japanese NGOs involved in health issues and Ministry of Foreign Affairs held on May 16, Japanese civil society questioned the relevant government staff regarding their reasons to omit reference to condom use and harm reduction, as well as ambiguous reference to resource mobilization, and requested a more positive inclusion of these points.
Furthermore, on May 22, Japanese civil society submitted another recommendation to the Government of Japan in response to the second draft of the Political Declaration released on May 19. Japanese civil society requested the following to be included: detailed reference to a comprehensive prevention response such as condom use and harm reduction; reference to the improvement in the quality of counseling provided, enriching HIV testing services; reference to the elimination of discrimination and stigma and protection of human rights of vulnerable groups, specifying these vulnerable groups such as men who have sex with men (MSM) and sex workers. Moreover, Japanese civil society also requested that the government incorporate the perspective of human security, which is a pillar of Japan’s international assistance policy, into the Political Declaration in relation to the AIDS response in countries at the stage of generalized epidemic, allowing for a more comprehensive implementation of the HIV/AIDS response.
Japanese civil society intends to continue dialogue with the Government of Japan regarding the Political Declaration, seeking their constructive commitment. The recommendations mentioned above are available here