|Handbook 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.)|
UNAIDS is the Joint United Programme on HIV/AIDS cosponsored by seven UN-system agencies - UNICEF, UNDP, UNFPA, UNDCP, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank. It commenced operations in January 1996. UNAIDS is founded on the concept of an expanded response to HIV/AIDS in which UN agencies and other relevant actors can contribute their expertise and address those issues which are relevant to their mandate. The Strategic Plan 1996-2000 stated:
"A joint programme bringing together UN organisations with complementary mandates and expertise was thought to be warranted by the epidemic's urgency and magnitude, its complex socioeconomic and cultural roots, the denial and complacency surrounding HIV and its routes of transmission and the discrimination and human rights violations faced by those infected or threatened by HIV... HIV tends to spread along the pre-existing fault lines of society fuelled by societal and structural factors such as poverty, disorder, discrimination and the subordinate status of women."
Human rights is a cross-cutting theme for UNAIDS, and the 1998-99 Workplan identifies the area of human rights, ethics and law as an integral part of the Programme. A human rights based response to HIV/AIDS safeguards human dignity and enables communities and individuals to respond effectively to HIV/AIDS, and provides a legal and ethical framework to facilitate equal access to prevention and care programmes.
Over a third of UNAIDS staff are posted in selected countries with 38 Country Programme Advisers and 14 InterCountry Technical Advisers servicing UN Theme Groups on HIV/AIDS. These are established at country level by the Resident Coordinator, usually from UNDP, and include national government as well as UNAIDS Cosponsor representatives. The UN Theme Groups are coordination mechanisms which enable countries to make the best use of the UN system to sup-port their national HIV/AIDS Programmes.
It is UNAIDS task to coordinate, strengthen and support all UN activities aimed at preventing transmission of HIV, providing care and support, reducing the vulnerability of individuals and communities to HIV, and alleviating the impact of the epidemic. It has a catalytic role in forming partnerships with relevant actors such as the IPU.
Although UNAIDS does not have a direct implementation role, it can influence policy making through:
- its convening power, which can result in the setting of standards;
- its advocacy role at global and country level; and
- its ability to offer technical expertise to actors such as governments. One aspect of this function is the development of best practice materials that identify, develop and collect real examples of principles, strategies, policies and activities that work, and are recognized to be technically, ethically and strategically sound, sustainable and replicable.
The address of the UNAIDS web-site is: http://www.unaids.org