Conclusive Regional Dialogue on HIV, Rights and Universal Access in Eastern EuropePublished on Thursday, 30 October 2014 18:33
[Contributed by Boyan Konstantinov, Legal Specialist, HIV, Health and Development Team, UNDP Instanbul Regional Hub] On 29-30 October, 2014 a Conclusive Regional Dialogue on HIV, Rights and Universal Access in Eastern Europe was held in Tbilisi, Georgia. The Dialogue was the last part of the regional project “HIV, Rights and Universal Access in Eastern Europe” implemented by partnership with UNDP, the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) and fourteen non-government organization in the region since 2012. The project was co-financed by the European Union and designed as a follow up to the regional dialogue of the Global Commission in 2011. Under this project UNDP, its partners and associates have implemented series of activities to build the capacity of non-state actors in the field of HIV and the law in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine, such as virtual and in person trainings, capacity assessments and recommendations, national stakeholder meetings and the development of joint action plans between civil society and governments, a Regional HIV Legal Network for quality free legal aid, and others. The Conclusive Regional Dialogue gathered 78 participants from government and civil society from the project countries, as well as civil society participants from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The Conclusive Regional Dialogue was carried out in synergy with the anti-violence project implemented under the same EU call for proposals by the Eurasian Harm Reduction Network. “HIV is a matter of human rights. According to international human rights law states have the obligation to undertake legal, financial and administrative measures to bring these rights as close as possible to the highest standards of health”, said Evgeniy Spevak from the Eurasian and Belarusian unions of people living with HIV at the opening ceremony. “Involvement of community based organizations in these kinds of meetings is crucial. There is a lot we can do together – and I hope we will continue working with the same enthusiasm and motivation”, emphasized Lasha Tvaliashvili from the NGO “Real People Real Vision” (Georgia). Over the two days of the meeting civil society and government representatives learned about the achievements of the project, revisited the action plans designed during national stakeholder meetings in Moldova and Ukraine in 2012 and outlined, separately and then at joint sessions the next short and long term priorities in HIV responses in the respective countries, as well as the opportunities for meaningful engagement of civil society and decision makers and services providers. The conclusions and recommendations were presented at a town hall meeting attended also by participants from other sub-regions. The most important recommendations focused on:
- The need to repeal norms and policies that criminalize, or penalize people with HIV as well as the behavior of key populations, withhold from adopting and considering new legislation and policies with such content, and focus on enabling legislation instead.
- Reform norms and policies that prevent NGOs from engaging in a meaningful dialogue with government. Encourage NGOs to participate in decision-making processes that concern HIV services and perform as effective and cost-efficient service providers. Engage civil society in social contracting and plurilateral public-private partnerships.
- Prepare countries for scaling up national HIV responses in the context of flat-lined or decreasing external funding for HIV, by modernizing treatment regimens, optimizing service delivery models, engaging civil society, increasing access to ARV medicines and medicines for HIV co-infections, including through stimulating generic competition.