HIV/AIDS: ‘GREATEST LEADERSHIP CHALLENGE OF OUR TIME’, SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS FOLLOWING HIGH-LEVEL INTERACTIVE PANEL

22 September 2003
SG/SM/8890-AIDS/60

HIV/AIDS: ‘GREATEST LEADERSHIP CHALLENGE OF OUR TIME’, SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS FOLLOWING HIGH-LEVEL INTERACTIVE PANEL

22/09/2003
Press ReleaseSG/SM/8890 AIDS/60

HIV/AIDS: ‘GREATEST LEADERSHIP CHALLENGE OF OUR TIME’, SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS FOLLOWING HIGH-LEVEL INTERACTIVE PANEL

Following is Secretary-GeneralKofi Annan’s summary of the proceedings of the high-level interactive panel on HIV/AIDS, as delivered to the General Assembly this evening:

In accordance with General Assembly resolution S-26/2 of 2001, a high-level interactive panel on HIV/AIDS was held this afternoon.

The panel was attended by 10 Heads of State and government, a large number of ministers, six heads of United Nations agencies and more than

20 representatives of civil society.

The high-level panel focused on three critical areas that must be addressed with courage and determination if we are to meet the Millennium Development Goal of beginning to reverse the spread of AIDS by 2015. 

These include:

-- the need to reduce stigma and discrimination, particularly against those living with or infected by HIV/AIDS;

-- to implement and recognize the importance of broad-based partnerships that draw on the strengths and contributions of all parts of society; and

-- the need to mobilize resources on a scale far greater than we have achieved so far.

A key theme running through the panel discussion was recognition that AIDS represents the greatest leadership challenge of our time.

Leadership among -- but not limited to -- Heads of States and governments.

Leadership at every level of society -– among faith-based organizations, community groups, the private sector and civil society organizations.

That leadership must be characterized by frank and honest recognition of the impact of AIDS on our societies, and the steps that must be taken in response.

In our discussions, we highlighted stigma and discrimination as some of the most formidable obstacles to future progress.

They undermine the scaling up of both prevention and treatment efforts.

They make already marginalized groups -- who are often the most vulnerable to infection -- even more difficult to reach.

We also focused on the massive impact of AIDS on women, and on the acute need to involve them in the response.  Equally critical is the involvement of people living with HIV/AIDS in all aspects of the fight against the epidemic.

The discussion also stressed the importance of partnerships.

Civil society representatives made clear that these partnerships must be based on mutual respect and recognition of comparative advantage.

Political leaders recognized the need to involve civil society as full partners in an expanded response to AIDS.

We also looked at examples of how all civil society groups are making unique and vital contributions to the struggle against AIDS at all levels.

Obviously, the question of resources was of paramount concern.

While resources available to HIV/AIDS have doubled since the General Assembly Special Session on AIDS in 2001, they still remain woefully inadequate.

Resource flows must double once again to reach the 10 billion dollars required annually by 2005 to stem the tide of AIDS.

We stressed the need to ensure adequate funding for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, as well as the other key partners including United Nations agencies, bilateral organizations and non-governmental organizations.

Participants from developing countries expressed their commitment to increasing their own spending on HIV/AIDS, and suggested innovative ways that this spending could be increased. 

Only if HIV/AIDS is kept at the top of political -– and practical –- agendas at every level will resources flow at the pace and scale we so urgently need.

While acknowledging the formidable obstacles before us, the conclusions of the panel were not pessimistic.

We are learning more and more every day about what works, resources are increasing and political leadership is gaining steam.

But we must stay on course -– and redouble our efforts -– to remain true to the Declaration of Commitment adopted in this room just two years ago.

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For information media. Not an official record.