BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE FIFTY EIGHT SESSION
OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
AT THE HIGH LEVEL PLENARY
MEETING ON HIV/AIDS
22 SEPTEMBER 2003
Heads of State and Heads of Government, Excellencies, Mr.
Secretary General, Ladies and Gentlemen:
participation of so many distinguished Heads of State and
Government in this High-level Plenary on HIV/AIDS is of
immense satisfaction. I thank you and other Ministerial
representatives for the leadership you are providing by
your attendance today, and express my appreciation to you
all for your participation.
gathered at the Twenty-sixth Special Session of the General
Assembly in 2001 to assess the unfolding tragedy of the
HIV/AIDS pandemic. We pledged to take comprehensive and
systematic action in the Declaration of Commitments on HIV/AIDS.
High-level Plenary, therefore, is primarily about how well
we have kept the commitments made up to 2003, and whether
we are on target to keep those commitments for 2005. It
is also about keeping commitments made in the Millennium
Declaration to halt the spread of the disease and begin
the process of reversal by 2015.
if we keep our commitments, will we reduce numbers such
as the 42 million people estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS
worldwide, half of whom are adult women, and 95% of whom
live in the developing world. We need to keep our commitments
to decrease the number of deaths due to AIDS, 80% of which
occur in Sub-Saharan Africa, and to tackle the devastating
impact of the disease on the vulnerable small developing
states of the Caribbean.
take steps to reduce the number of children born with HIV,
the growing number of AIDS orphans, and the estimated 5
million who acquired HIV in just one year - 2002. We must
confront stigma and discrimination against people living
with HIV/AIDS and ensure that prevention and awareness programmes
reach people at risk and improve access to affordable medicines.
UNAIDS estimates that we are falling far short of the US$10.5
billion needed annually by 2005 to effectively fight the
epidemic in low and middle-income countries. If we are to
achieve all this, we must be committed.
that HIV/AIDS is much more than a public health problem,
but impacts virtually every aspects of human endeavour.
HIV/AIDS interventions must go hand in hand with policies
that address poverty, socio-economic development, human
welfare and social cohesion. This is a direction in which
we must continue.
are signs that we are making progress in implementing our
undertakings in the Declaration on HIV/AIDS, as well as
the Millennium Declaration. In his Report, "Progress
towards implementation of the Declaration of Commitments
on HIV/AIDS, the Secretary General also confirms that progress
has been made, both in respect of action underway and the
allocation of resources. This is good news. Regrettably,
it must be juxtaposed against a shortfall in the resources
of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Further progress will be made if we heed the Secretary-General's
warning that the continuing HIV/AIDS crisis requires "an
unprecedented mobilisation of resources".
of the important strides we are making are underpinned by
the work of UNAIDS. As the leading advocate for global action
against the HIV/AIDS pandemic UNAIDS and its co-sponsoring
agencies have proven to be important partners, including
with governments, non-governmental organisation, civil society
and the private sector. We commend them for their work,
and urge them to continue to make their critical contribution.
however, it falls to Governments to provide the leadership
and vision to confront the crisis in their own countries
and to cooperate in the global fight against HIV/AIDS. At
this High-Level Plenary, we must reaffirm our pledge to
halt and reverse the HIV/AIDS pandemic and build on the
foundation we set in 2002. For it is only in this way that
we will meet the formidable challenges ahead.
range of activities will take place today, including an
interactive panel at the level of Heads of State and Government,
other panel discussions, briefings and exhibitions. I would
encourage all to participate fully in these activities.
However, what we do here today will only have an impact
when we follow up with action at the national, regional
and international level and effectively confront this most
deadly epidemic of our time.
forward to a dynamic and progressive discussion.