Joint UN/UNAIDS Press Release
Momentum Builds for UN Special Session on HIV/AIDS
Secretary-Generalís Call for Action Sets Stage for Negotiations This Week
May 21, 2001
New York, NY
-- Preparations for the United Nations Special Session on HIV/AIDS, to be held in New York on 25-27 June 2001, are gathering momentum as the key outcome document is moved up the ladder. Government delegates are meeting in New York this week, 21-25 May, for an intensive round of negotiations.
The talks this week will seek agreement on a revised draft of the "Declaration of Commitment" that is expected to be adopted at the Special Session. The draft was prepared by the Session co- facilitators, Ambassador Penny Wensley of Australia and Ambassador Ibra Deguéne Ka of Senegal, based on informal consultations that began in February.
So far, over twenty heads of State or Government have confirmed their plans to attend the Special Session, reflecting the importance being given to the global epidemic by countries worldwide.
The Special Session will aim, through the adoption of the Declaration of Commitment, to galvanize global action to tackle the AIDS crisis. The Declaration is likely to outline specific targets for achieving effective leadership and coordination, alleviating the social and economic impact of the epidemic, preventing the spread of the disease, ensuring the availability of care and support, and mobilizing resources.
Looking to the negotiations, Ambassador Wensley commented, "The HIV/AIDS epidemic is a global crisis and urgent and unprecedented action, involving unique partnerships, is needed to stop it. This requires both a solid political commitment as well as determined mobilization of resources. Without these commitments, we will have little hope of holding back an epidemic that continues to spread and to place not just individuals, but communities and entire countries, at grave risk."
Addressing the opening of the negotiations this morning, Dr. Peter Piot, Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), told delegates, "The Special Session now has the grave responsibility of meeting the expectations raised by the passion and commitment of the thousands of actors, and the millions of people, infected and affected by HIV. I believe the draft Declaration now under consideration is a very clear demonstration of both resolve and vision."
A Call for Action
Interest in the Special Session has been building rapidly. In Washington on 11 May, US President George Bush pledged US$200 million for a global fund proposed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to fight AIDS and other infectious diseases. UNAIDS estimates that a major increase in funding is required to bring total annual spending on AIDS in low and middle income countries to US$7-10 billion, the level needed, within about five years.
A few days earlier, speaking to the Council on Foundations in Philadelphia, the Secretary-General reiterated his call for action on AIDS, detailing the five clear objectives he had stated at the end of April in Abuja, Nigeria, at a special summit of the Organization of African Unity (OAU).
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