Sumario: November 8, 2002: Statement by H.E. Ambassador Ellen Margrethe Løj, Permanent Representative of Denmark to the UN, on behalf of the European Union. Follow-up to the outcome of the implementation of the declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS. FIFTY-SEVENTH SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY - PLENARY: Item 42 (New York)
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. The countries of Central and Eastern Europe associated with the European Union - Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and the associated countries - Cyprus, Malta, Turkey, as well as the EFTA country of the European Economic Area - Iceland, align themselves with this statement.
At the Millennium Summit our Heads of States and Governments resolved to have by 2015 halted, and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS, the scourge of malaria and other major diseases that afflict humanity. This commitment was followed up last year in June when we all met at the special session and adopted the UN Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS. The adoption of the declaration sets out a number of concrete and time-bound goals, which constitute an important framework for our actions in the global fight against HIV/AIDS. But it is after all just a declaration - our true commitment must be shown through our joint actions. We have a great challenge in translating political commitment into action.
The consequences of the epidemic are alarming: In 2001 5 million people became infected with HIV and 3 million died from AIDS. Today more than 40 million are living with HIV/AIDS. The disease has a major impact - and in some areas especially in Sub-Saharan Africa a devastating one - on life. However, it is also expanding rapidly in other regions of the world which, unless early action is taken, threaten to be engulfed by the epidemic. It halts social and economic development; thousands of children are left as orphans; it contributes to a shortage of food; a slow down in production; and lower education standards.
There is an urgent need for a strengthened effort to fight HIV/AIDS. The response required is more complex than for other diseases. It requires action through all aspects of society, not just health. Our efforts to fight HIV/AIDS must therefore be an integral part of our work in all fields - in relation to education, agriculture, industrial development, trade, human rights and social development. It is a true crosscutting issue and must be treated accordingly. Many countries have developed multisectoral plans and strategies for combating HIV/AIDS, but the concrete responses to the epidemic often remain enclosed in the health ministries. This must be changed - the epidemic should be counteracted through a broad set of interventions. The capacity to coordinate a wide range of initiatives must be enhanced. Taking into account the multisectoral nature of the problem and the need to ensure ownership of national governments and proper coordination as well as cooperation of the various actors all HIV/AIDS activities should be integrated into national poverty reduction programmes like PRSPs.
The report of the Secretary-General rightly underlines the crucial importance of national leadership in the fight against HIV/AIDS. We must speak openly about HIV/AIDS and confront stigmatisation and discrimination. Sexual health education for young persons is part of such openness as well as recognizing the gender dimensions of HIV/AIDS and the importance of active involvement of men and boys in prevention efforts. Only by doing so can we achieve maximum impact of our efforts. The civil society forms an intrinsic part of a national response. It is imperative that we complement political leadership with the full and active participation of civil society, including people living with HIV/AIDS, and the private sector. This is indeed happening in many countries. However, in the global perspective participation remains inadequate. The EU would like to acknowledge and support the role played by the civil society through participation in planning exercises, in providing care and support to orphans and other vulnerable groups and in monitoring HIV-related human rights violations.
Last year, UN member states at the General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS agreed that by 2005 we would mobilize in total between 7 and 10 billion US dollars a year to fight the epidemic. The establishment of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria provides an important global financial mechanism for securing the necessary resources for the fight against the three diseases. The EU is committed to helping the Global Fund establish itself as an effective mechanism for delivery of essential support to those most in need. In Monterrey we agreed to increase the resources for development - both domestic resources and assistance from the international community - and to enhance aid effectiveness. This should include prioritizing interventions that are known to be effective in responding to HIV/AIDS. We must increase spending in health and education if we are to achieve the 2015 goal of halting and reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS. An increase in ODA and the speedy and effective implementation of the HIPC initiative will - among other things - be targeted towards the social sector. And it will contribute to freeing domestic resources for social sector investment.
But lack of financial resources is not the only obstacle. Human capacity, especially at country level, is stretched beyond its limits. Indeed, we are now reaching the point where the extent to which HIV/AIDS is contributing to the erosion of human capacity to respond to the disease must be acknowledged. External assistance often supports specific interventions but pay less attention to the challenge of building sufficient capacity at the local level to sustain these activities over the long term. In a situation of insufficient capacity, scaling up of successful pilot projects, which could increase efforts aimed at combating HIV/AIDS, may not yield sustainable results. The UN system must address this challenge through strengthened inter-agency collaboration, especially at country level, with a view to ensure the most effective utilization of its resources. The effectiveness in strategies to combat HIV/AIDS depends very much on improved coordination and coherence between all stakeholders at global and regional, national and local level. In this context the EU welcomes the ongoing evaluation of UNAIDS. The EU looks very much forward to the debate on the findings of the evaluation at the Programme Coordinating Board of UNAIDS to be held in Portugal in December this year. Further consideration in order to strengthen the mandate of UNAIDS might be called for by ECOSOC.
The EU stands ready to intensify its efforts, also through the UN system, above all UNAIDS, aimed at eliminating the scourge of HIV/AIDS. We would like to stress the important role that UNAIDS plays in coordinating the UN response to HIV/AIDS. We would like to reaffirm the importance we attach to an enhanced but balanced approach in order to address all dimensions of the epidemic. Prevention must be the mainstay of our response. Prevention and treatment are complementary in a fundamental way and care, support and treatment together are closely linked to effective prevention. We underscore the need to develop national and sectoral policies and plans, in which reproductive health care and services, population - including focusing on the adolescents - and gender issues are integrated. As well as the need to strengthen primary health care systems and community-based care. The EU is working actively to increase access to and affordability of key pharmaceuticals and to promote research and development of new global public goods to confront HIV/AIDS. The EU Action Plan Aid for Poverty Diseases in Developing Countries provides a comprehensive package of interventions for the three major communicable diseases: HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. And it includes actions at all levels related to development, trade and research in order to improve health conditions and access to medicines.
In conclusion, we agree with the Secretary-General that the UN is a unique instrument available to the world for dealing with critical global issues, such as the fight against HIV/AIDS. We would also in this context like to highlight the importance we attach to the Secretary-General's initiative to strengthen the UN. Thus we have to point out the necessity to ensure coherence between the follow-up to special session on HIV/AIDS, the Millennium Declaration and the other major UN conferences and summits. We must take a holistic approach also to the monitoring and evaluation of our efforts in relation to HIV/AIDS. And we must find a way to involve all stakeholders, including the civil society in our deliberations.
Thank you, Mr. President.