The Global Commission on HIV and the Law is an independent body, convened by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on behalf of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

The Global Commission on HIV and the Law interrogated the relationship between legal responses, human rights and HIV. The Commission focused on some of the most challenging legal and human rights issues in the context of HIV, including criminalisation of HIV transmission, behaviours and practices such as drug use, sex work, same-sex sexual relations, and issues of prisoners, migrants, children’s rights, violence against women and access to treatment. The Global Commission on HIV and the Law also developed actionable, evidence-informed and human rights-based recommendations for effective HIV responses that protect and promote the human rights of people living with and most vulnerable to HIV.

Many of the successes in mitigating the causes and consequences of HIV have taken root where laws have been used to protect the human rights of the marginalized and disempowered. For example, in some countries anti-discrimination laws have helped people living with HIV keep their jobs and their homes and look after their families. Laws to protect confidentiality have contributed to increasing confidence in heath systems, encouraging people to learn their HIV status and to access HIV prevention and treatment. Legal guarantees of property and inheritance rights for women and girls have helped to mitigate the social and economic burdens of AIDS. Still in many places across the globe, the legal environment is presenting significant challenges for sustaining and scaling up effective HIV responses. In many countries, laws and policies continue to prevent access to life-saving HIV treatment. 

The Global Commission on HIV was based on three mutually reinforcing axes:

  1. The Commission comprised of 14 members, eminent leaders in their fields and public life, who provided global leadership on issues of HIV and the law. The Commission met 3 times over 18 months. Commission members also visited regions to participate in Regional Dialogues.
  2. The Technical Advisory Group was co-chaired by a Commissioner with expertise in HIV and the law. It comprised 23 members, including experts on law and human rights. HIV, public health, civil society, marginalized communities, people living with HIV, and the UNDAIDS Secretariat.
  3. Regional dialogues took place between policy- and law-makers and affected communities to inform the deliberations of the Commission. They were supported by Regional Issues Papers, social networking and new media technology.

    Objectives of the Commission were to:

    • Analyse existing evidence and generate new evidence on rights and law in the context of HIV and develop rights-based and evidence-informed recommendations
    • Increase awareness amongst key constituencies on issues of rights and law in the context of HIV and engage with civil society and strengthen their ability to campaign, advocate and lob

    Outcomes of the Commission included:

    • Consolidated, coherent and compelling evidence base on human rights and legal issues relating to HIV
    • Greater awareness among key stakeholders and leadership of law- and policy-makers
    • Public dialogue and civil society engagement on social attitudes, human rights and legal issues relating to HIV

    Global Commission on HIV and the Law: Information Note
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