The four day workshop was held in Johannesburg from 20 – 24 September.
It involved participants from the governments of 12 Eastern and Southern African countries including:
- Technical experts involved in HIV strategic planning at country level
- Officials from national AIDS commissions
- Ministers of Health, Gender and Planning
Also present were delegations of civil society organisations and people living with HIV in the 12 countries. This included staff from Alliance Linking Organisations in Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
Integrating human rights into national strategic plans
The Alliance was part of the facilitation team at the workshop which was based on a recently finalised facilitators guide on ‘Integrating Human Rights into National Strategic Plans’, developed by the Alliance and commissioned by UNAIDS. Participants’ starting point for action planning was a detailed analysis of the current National Strategic Plans of countries involved which had been produced by the Alliance.
The workshop gave countries the opportunity to practically plan for the integration of comprehensive human rights programmes and to develop new strategies for law reform within their own unique socio-cultural and political context.
This is particularly relevant now as all UN Member States have signed the UN Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS, which calls for governments to address legal and social barriers to an effective HIV response. Consequently, the workshop reviewed the commitments which were identified in the Political Declaration as essential to addressing HIV related stigma and discrimination in national HIV responses. Many countries have already established roadmaps to adapt their NSPs to these new commitments and the workshop offered an opportunity to exchange experiences and discuss best practice to guide these processes.
“Unless the legal and social environments are protective of the people living with and vulnerable to HIV, people will not be willing, or able, to come forward for HIV prevention and treatment,” commented Sheila Tlou, Director of the UNAIDS Regional Support Team East and Southern Africa.
For more on the Alliance’s work on human rights see our ‘Good practice HIV programming standards’ which contains a section on human rights and greater involvement of people living with HIV.
By the end of the workshop, each country team had developed national action plans with specific commitments to integrate human rights and gender programmes in their NSP.
“While integrating human rights and gender equality in the national AIDS strategic plan would appear challenging amidst competing priorities, it is possible!” said Mr Lole Laile Lole, Chairman of the South Sudan Network of People living with HIV.
Read more about the workshop on the UNAIDS website.
Further workshops will take place in other regions over the coming months. The next will for the Asia/Pacific region and will take place in Bangkok in November 2011. A further workshop for the Middle East and North Africa will take place in December 2011.
For more information please contact Christine Stegling