The European Community
 
 

THE HOUR OF GLOBAL SOLIDARITY
 

ON THE OCCASION OF THE

TWENTY-SIXTH  SPECIAL SESSION

OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY

OF THE UNITED NATIONS

ON

HIV/AIDS
 
 
 

Statement by Mr. John B. Richardson
Head of the Delegation of the European Commission
on behalf of the European Community
 


New York,  June 27, 2001




1. Mr. President, I would like to begin by extending  President Prodi's  thanks to those countries which took the initiative to ask for this historic special session and to Secretary-General Kofi Annan who has driven the process forward.

2. The statistics presented over recent days show convincingly that the World cannot ignore the AIDS epidemic. In developing countries, where 90 per cent of all HIV infections occur, AIDS is reversing hard-won gains in improving the quality of life. The average life expectancy in developing countries that had increased since the 1950s, is now tumbling again. Last year in Africa, 10 times as many people died from HIV/AIDS as were killed in conflicts.

3. In contrast, we in Europe are fortunate to be alive at this moment in history. Never before has our world enjoyed so much prosperity with so few external threats. Global society is calling on the international community for its recognition of the magnitude of the problem and its support in combating it.

4. This is therefore the hour of global solidarity. The west must increase its efforts to help more nations and people to break the vicious cycle of disease and poverty.
 

5. As the Swedish presidency already stated on Monday, Europe is fully committed to further step up its efforts to face this epidemic and to increase its support  for the fight against the three major communicable diseases :HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis. Together these diseases are killing more than 5 Million people each year. They are all on the increase. They are affecting the poorest of the poor.

6. This is the context of our recent work in the EC on a policy framework and Programme for Action on the three communicable diseases.
 

7. Preventing HIV from spreading is difficult but possible: some countries have now proven this by slowing the growth of the epidemic or even reversing it. Countries such as Senegal, Uganda and Thailand are showing the way forward by continuous prevention efforts, care for people with HIV and careful design of the introduction and monitoring of anti retroviral therapy.

8. The EC has been part of those efforts since 1987. We  learned through this process that openness, political leadership, respect for human dignity and non discrimination are at the core of success . Partnership at all levels but especially with the people living with HIV and with the NGO community are also a condition for progress in the confrontation with this epidemic. Governments responsive to the needs of their populations are also very much part of the solution.
 

9. The international community, of which the EC is part, must help remove the roadblocks that slow the impact of all individual and community efforts. The roadblocks are, for instance; ignorance, gender inequality, denial, discrimination , lack of resources, and the lack of credible investment in the development of preventive methods such as vaccines and microbicidal products.

10. The overarching international development goal of the Millennium Declaration, to reduce by half the number of people living in extreme poverty by 2015, cannot be achieved without greater investment in health and slowing down the spread of the three major killer diseases.
 

THE EC PROGRAMME FOR ACTION

11. The EC recognises that to achieve these goals set by the international community will require far higher levels of investment in health than in the past. Global annual ODA for health is estimated at US$ 5-6 billion. WHO estimates that making a real difference for Africa alone would require an additional US$12-15 billion annually (for health in general).

12. Beyond higher and more efficient investments, the EC also recognises that more can be done on prices of products and development of new vaccines through really innovative approaches and partnerships. Lack of affordable and appropriate pharmaceuticals is a serious problem in many developing countries and especially for the poorest. Effective solutions require international co-operation and the participation of both public and private sectors in developed and developing countries.

13. The European Commission calls for a much broader application of effective global tiered pricing for the benefit of the poorest countries. This requires close cooperation with all interested parties, including the pharmaceutical industry and developing countries, international organisations as well as with industrial countries and the setting up of mechanisms to make such a system operational.
 

14. The EC also underlines the importance of global rules on intellectual property rights in promoting investments in new medicines, and especially vaccines, in order to render prevention efforts more effective.

15. The EC recalls the right of the members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to invoke the relevant provisions of the Agreement on Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) to address national health policy concerns. The possibility exists under the TRIPS Agreement to address health concerns by, inter alia, using discretion to grant compulsory licenses in certain exceptional circumstances provided the conditions of Article 31 of the TRIPS Agreement are fulfilled. The EC and its Member States are committed to the discussions currently taking place in the TRIPS Council, endorsing the initiative of the Africa Group to examine the link between intellectual property and access to medicines. In this context, the EC is ready also to look to what extent technical assistance can take into account health concerns.
 

16. It is also our intention to increase significantly the financial support for research and development.

THE GLOBAL FUND

17. The EC welcomes the creation of a global fund as an additional mechanism to channel support to the people and countries most in need .We are actively engaged in preparatory discussions on the Fund, in particular to ensure that it will operate as it should.
 
18. We have called for extensive consultations with all stakeholders and especially with the recipient countries .In our opinion the Fund's efforts should be seen as additional to ongoing, and future, investment in improving health. An effective Fund should deliver greater resources faster, through simpler co-ordinated mechanisms, with reduced transaction costs for both donors and beneficiaries. Resources should be linked to the achievement of defined health outcomes.

19. The EC will spare no effort to bring this about in partnership with the global community. Together we will overcome this epidemic and move towards a world without poverty