Brief overview of the National Dialogue on Human Rights, HIV and the Law in Belize, 12-13 October, 2011Published on Thursday, 13 October 2011 04:25 The National Dialogue on Human Rights, HIV and the Law in Belize was organized and led by a national umbrella NGO, Women’s Issues Network (WIN) Belize, on 12-13 October, 2011 in Belize City with the participation of more than 100 individuals from both, civil society organizations (CSO) and the government (GOB). The purpose of the National Dialogue was to advance human rights-based and HIV-sensitive legal reform in the country; to strengthen knowledge on human rights and HIV-related legal issues; and to sensitize decision makers and the population at large on human rights and HIV.
The National Dialogue was built on the outcomes and methodology of the Caribbean Regional Dialogue of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law, conducted in April 2011 in Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago. For the first time in Belize, a wide representation of members from the various vulnerable groups attended and advocated publicly on issues related to HIV and the law, such as people living with HIV, men who have sex with men, female sex workers and transgender people.
A special message was delivered by the President of the newly constituted NGO, C-Net+, that clusters people living with HIV in Belize. This was a remarkable moment, as for the first time in the country a public statement was made by a person living with HIV. The Director of the Planning Unit, representing the Ministry of Human Development and Social Transformation made official opening remarks on behalf of the Minister, Mr. Eden Martinez on the first day of the dialogue.
On the second day, Mrs. Kim Simplis Barrow, First Lady and Special Envoy for Children and Women in Belize, Mrs. Kathy Esquivel, National AIDS Commission Chairperson, and Dr. Carla Barnett, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister, signed a pledge for championing for advancing the human rights and HIV related issues in country. Mrs. Simplis Barrow gave special remarks to all the participants and Mrs. Esquivel made closing remarks. A special video message from the Hon. Michael Kirby from the Global Commission on HIV and the Law was also presented.
A novel communications strategy was designed and implemented to support the National Dialogue, including the participation of national and international experts on live TV talk shows (Channel 5 and Love TV) organised around the dialogue. The second day of the dialogue was broadcast live on radio (Love FM) to the whole nation and an e-mail address and cell phone number were made available to radio listeners to make interventions and observations. This outreach elicited positive feedback on the discussions at the dialogue.
A national action plan was initiated based on recommendations made during the event with the aim to conduct follow-up actions during 2012, with special emphasis on improving the legal culture in Belize. Representatives from UNDP Belize, Headquarters and the Regional Center in Panama who attended were Ms. Mariana Mansur, Mr. Vivek Divan, Mr. David Ruiz and Ms. Norma Garcia. Mr. David Ruiz made opening remarks on Day 2.
Other UN agencies in Belize, such as UNFPA and UNAIDS attended the event as observers. The National Dialogue promoted and strengthened leadership among civil society representatives, and generated evidence and information about main obstacles Belizean people living with HIV and those most vulnerable to HIV face, with special focus on youth and sexual education, women and gender-based violence and stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV and most-at-risk-populations. It also created an opportunity for government and civil society to engage in constructive dialogue with the government on issues of concern and priority in Belize’s HIV, health and development response.
Web-story of the Brief Overview of the National Dialogue on Human Rights, HIV and the Law in Belize, 12-13 October 2011 Download
HIV and the Law in Belize: Fact Sheet Download
Video Report from Love Television Belize on Day 2 of the National Dialogue on Human Rights, HIV and the Law in Belize, 13 October 2011 View video
Video Message of Hon. Michael Kirby, Commissioner, Global Commission on HIV and the Law, Prepared for the National Dialogue on Human Rights, HIV and the Law in Belize, 13 October 2011 View video