No one should be left behind in achieving the MDGs

At last week’s UN General Assembly Special Event on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), world leaders committed to accelerate efforts to achieve the targets by 2015, emphasizing the need for inclusivity and accessibility for all.

The President of the General Assembly, Ambassador John Ashe of Antigua, boldly stated at the opening of the event that no one should be left behind in closing the gaps to meet the MDGs and that new commitments such as equity and social justice are critical.

The Alliance welcomes the UN Outcome Document that was adopted, which also outlines a joint vision for an inclusive and people-centred post-2015 development agenda: universal goals building on the foundations of the MDGs, applicable to all countries, and promoting peace and security, democratic governance, the rule of law, gender equality and human rights for all.

HIV, health and rights

The protection and promotion of human rights is critical for an effective AIDS response. While great progress has been made during the last decade to increase access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support for those living with and affected by HIV, there are still big gaps to fill, in particular for marginalized populations including men who have sex with men, sex workers, people who use drugs and transgender persons.

In this context, we applaud the commitment made at the Special Event by US Secretary of State John Kerry to make combating discrimination a key priory for development. Whilst laws remain in place that criminalise communities and promote stigma and discrimination, and human rights violations continue to occur, we will not achieve an AIDS-free generation.

Youth call on global leaders

Barbara Martinez, a young woman living with HIV and representing the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Young People living with HIV (see picture above), addressed the UN General Assembly at the opening of the High Level Event. She was the only civil society representative on the panel and she urged world leaders to take their responsibility seriously: “do you want to be the leaders who will fail, or do you want to be the leaders who will bring us the end of AIDS?”

What comes next?

Despite these statements, there remains a long way to go to secure the human rights of those most affected by HIV and to address the enormous inequality of access still found in every country - rich or poor.

Universal health coverage, which is strongly promoted by the WHO, World Bank, and an increasing number of UN Member States as the new key ambition for health in the new post-2015 Framework, can only be achieved if it includes strong targets on access for the vulnerable, marginalised and stigmatised populations, an inclusive accountability mechanism at national, regional and global level, and is based on human rights, social justice, and quality of services.

The Alliance will continue to engage with the process as the post-2015 Framework is being developed, by working with governments to ensure these critical issues for AIDS are taken into account.

Download a copy of the Alliance’s discussion paper ‘Health in the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Framework: Mapping the way forward for the goal, targets, indicators and key principles' (available in English, French and Spanish). [add links]