Statements and Webcast
President of the 65th Session of the General Assembly
H.E. Mr. Joseph Deiss
8 June 2011
JOSEPH DEISS, President of the General Assembly, said that a decade ago the Assembly had adopted an ambitious declaration to reverse the AIDS epidemic at a time when the situation seemed hopeless. “Today, the results are there to be seen,” he said. In the past five years worldwide the number of people with access to treatment had increased tenfold. Millions of lives had been saved. There had been real progress in prevention; the number of new infections was declining. “It is too soon to halt all our efforts and be put off by the cost of treatment and budget cuts,” he said. Ten million people still had no access to treatment and far too many people were still being infected. It was necessary to continue complementary and closely linked prevention, treatment, care and support measures.
“We have reached a critical moment in time,” he said, calling the high-level meeting a “unique opportunity” to reiterate collective commitment and bolster the campaign against AIDS. Global action must be based on broad partnership among Governments, the private sector and civil society to combat the virus. The civil society hearing held prior to the opening of negotiations was proof of the importance of civil society in holding Governments responsible for their actions and of its essential role in fostering respect for human rights in the context of the AIDS response.
Even 30 years after the beginning of the epidemic, the stigmatization of and discrimination against persons living with the virus and vulnerable groups far too often continued to present a major obstacle to any open debate on AIDS-related issues and hindered progress, he said. Universal access implied social justice and social inclusion. “Persons living with the virus must be stakeholders in every aspect of our effort,” he said. Their experiences and stories were essential in developing an effective strategy for combating the epidemic.
Countries with a long history of industrialization, emerging powers and developing countries must ensure that multilateral negotiations in trade and intellectual property rights were harmonized with efforts to combat AIDS, he said. At times, the response was depicted as competing with other development and health priorities. On the contrary, there were synergies that must be maximized between the AIDS response and universal enrolment, gender equality and better health systems. Reversing the spread of AIDS was a Millennium Development Goal and a benchmark for achieving all the other goals.
“We must take a holistic approach and integrate the response to AIDS into broader development programmes,” he said. The meeting’s outcome document must take that approach in order to allow the global community to make significant progress in many areas.