The United Nations Secretariat Building is lit with the Red AIDS ribbon at night, as seen from the East River in New York City.

The United Nations Secretariat Building was lit with the red AIDS ribbon to demonstrate the Organization's commitment to the battle against HIV/AIDS during the General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS from 25-27 June 2001. UN Photo

26th Special Session of the General Assembly on HIV/AIDS, 25-27 June 2001, New York


The General Assembly held its 26th Special Session from 25 to 27 June 2001, in order to secure a global commitment to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic. High-level national delegations discussed what action plans had proven most effective in addressing the situation in their own countries, and what next steps were needed. Interactive round-tables brought together government leaders, HIV/AIDS activists and experts, and private sector partners.

The Special Session set a number of targets for action to fight HIV/AIDS, building on goals adopted at previous UN forums. These included the target agreed by some 150 heads of State and Government at the UN Millennium Summit in September 2000, to halt and begin to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2015

The Assembly supported the establishment of a Global HIV/AIDS Health Fund to finance an urgent and expanded response to the epidemic based on an integrated approach to prevention, care, support and treatment. The Assembly also committed itself to launching, by 2002, a worldwide fundraising campaign -- conducted by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and other partners - aimed at the public and private sector, to contribute to the HIV/AIDS and health fund.

Recent developments had set the stage for the special session to be a watershed event in the fight against HIV/AIDS.  Several major pharmaceutical companies had announced steep price cuts for seriously affected countries for drugs used to treat AIDS or related infections.  Starting with the Okinawa summit of the G-8 of the previous year, many developed and developing country governments had stepped up their commitments for action. On 27 June 2001, at the conclusion of the special session, the General Assembly adopted, without a vote, a draft resolution containing a Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS. By that declaration, Heads of State and Government and representatives of Member States made a commitment to, by 2005 -- through incremental steps -- reach a target of an overall annual expenditure on the HIV/AIDS epidemic of between $7 and 10 billion in low- and middle-income countries, as well as those experiencing or at risk of rapid expansion of the epidemic.