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close this bookHandbook for Legislators on HIV/AIDS, Law and Human Rights - Action to Combat HIV/AIDS in view of its Devastating Human, Economic and Social Impact (UNAIDS, 1999, 152 p.)
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As the 20th century draws to a close, HIV and AIDS continue to wreak havoc on an ever-increasing number of individuals, couples, families, and communities. More than 90 percent of the 33.6 million people living with HIV/AIDS at the end of 1999 were in the developing world. In many developing countries, the epidemic has come to represent a threat to human security itself. Sparing neither children nor parents, neither teachers, health workers, farmers, nor other active members of society, AIDS is wiping out gains in social and economic development.

Every year, leaders who previously were confident that their own peoples were somehow immune from HIV for reasons of culture, religion or geography find their countries hard-hit by the epidemic. Politicians in some countries have ignored the threat of AIDS, perhaps for fear that discussions about safer sex, reducing harm to injecting drug users or other sensitive subjects would alienate one or another segment of their supporters.

In other places, however, political leaders have courageously taken on the epidemic, placing themselves in the vanguard of those battling to beat back HIV/AIDS in the most effective ways possible. The greatest achievements in preventing the spread of HIV and alleviating the impact of AIDS have been in countries whose leaders have demonstrated strong political will and commitment.

The purpose of this Handbook is to assist parliamentarians and other elected officials in promulgating and enacting effective legislation and undertaking appropriate law reform in the fight against AIDS. Whether it be constitutional amendments to prohibit discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS or against those most vulnerable to infection, legislation to ensure the rights of school children to be educated on how to protect themselves as they grow older, to name only a few areas of concern, the full engagement of legislators is crucial to ensuring effective responses to the epidemic and adequate fiscal and other resources to support them.

The Handbook provides examples of best legislative and regulatory practices gathered from around the world. Best practices are given for each of the twelve guidelines contained in the International Guidelines on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights published in 1998 by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). The Handbook presents concrete measures that legislators can take to protect human rights and promote public health in responding to the epidemic.

The Handbook is the product of a growing partnership between the Inter-parliamentary Union (IPU) and UNAIDS, which share a commitment to the respect, protection and fulfilment of human rights as a value in itself, and as central to the achievement of their institutional goals and objectives.

We hope that parliamentarians and other elected officials around the world will be able to make use of this Handbook in advancing their national and community responses to AIDS, and we urge them to declare or renew their political commitments to preventing the spread and alleviating the impact of this terrible epidemic.

Peter Piot
Executive Director
Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS

Anders Johnsson
Inter-Parliamentary Union


IPU and UNAIDS warmly thank Ms Helen Watchirs (Australia), the principal author of the Handbook for Legislators on HIV/AIDS, Law and Human Rights (The Handbook), for her deep commitment to this work and comprehensive research.

The form and substance of the Handbook were improved by a consultation of legislators organized by the IPU and UNAIDS in Geneva in February 1999. We are grateful to the below listed parliamentarians, who attended this consultation, for their contributions to this Handbook:

Dr Carolyn Bennett
Canadian IPU Group
40 Elgin, Suite 1033
Ottawa, Ontario K1A OA4

Mr David Borrow
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
United Kingdom

Mr Victor Chernykh
Noviy Arbat, 19
Russian Federation

Mr Alexandre Waota Coulibaly
AssemblNationale de Cd'Ivoire
Bo postale 01 B.P. 1 381
Abidjan 01
Cote d'Ivoire

Mr Juan M. Flavier, Senator
c/o Inter Parliamentary Relations and Protocol Service
Senate of the Republic of the Philippines
Room 604, GSIS Headquarters, Roxas Blvd.
Pasay City

Mme Catherine Gsson
Palais Bourbon
75355 Paris 07 SP

Dr Paul GBR>Dgation suisse auprde l'Union interparlementaire
3003 Berne

Dr (Smt.) Najma Heptulla
President of the Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union
4, Akbar Road
New Delhi

Mr Essop Essack Jassat
All Party Parliamentarian Group on AIDS
Portfolio Committee on Health
National Assembly
Cape Town 8000
South Africa

Mr O.M. Kgosipula
National Assembly
P.O. Box 240

Dr Newton Kulundu
c/o Secretary/Treasurer
IPU Kenya Group
National Assembly
Parliament Buildings
P.O. Box 41842

Ms Zury R Montt
2" calle A 13-77 zona 15
Colonia TecBR>Guatemala City

Special thanks also go to resource persons to the consultation, namely, Art Hendriks (Netherlands), Mark Heywood (Head, AIDS Law Project, South Africa), Julian Fleet and Miriam Maluwa (UNAIDS Human Rights Advisers, Switzerland), and Alain Valtat (IPU Secretariat, Switzerland) for their valuable advice and suggestions.

Lastly but not least, IPU and UNAIDS acknowledge many other individuals, in particular David FitzSimons and Andrea Verwohlt (UNAIDS Information Centre), without whose support the preparation of this handbook would not have been possible.



Citizens Action Against AIDS


All-Party Parliamentary Group on AIDS


AIDS service organization


Societade Civil Bem-estar Familiar do Brasil


Community-based organization


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Caritas Internationalis


Centro de Informacion y Desarrello de la Mujer


Council for International Organizations for Medical Services


Department for International Development


Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission


International AIDS Vaccine Initiative


International Council of AIDS Service Organizations


Inter-Parliamentary Union


Latin American and Caribbean Council of AIDS Service Organizations


Monitoring the AIDS Pandemic (MAP) Network


Music Television International


Needle exchange programme


Nongovernmental organization


Persons Living with HIV/AIDS


Philippines National AIDS Council


South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation


Southern Africa Development Community


Special Administrative Region of China


The AIDS Support Organization


Terrence Higgins Trust


United Nations Division for Advancement of Women


United Nations International Drug Control Programme


United Nations Development Programme


United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization


United Nations Fund for Population Activities


United Nations Children's Fund


United States Agency for International Development