On 11 August, a satellite session titled UNGASS & Community: Civil Society Involvement in UNGASS on HIV was organized by the 7 Sisters, World AIDS Campaign, UNAIDS and GESTOS at the 9th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP9).
Presenters Aditya Wardhana (JOTHI/UNGASS Forum Indonesia) and Supecha Baotip (Raks Thai) presented on the process community groups in their respective countries faced in the last UNGASS-related HLM in 2008, highlighting difficulties with country reports and the use of shadow reports. Moi Lee Liow (APCASO) presented the commitment of APCASO to support community involvement in future rounds of UNGASS – in particular, pointing out that the dates for the upcoming UNGASS on HIV had not been settled and that after 2010-2011, some indications were pointing to subsuming UNGASS processes under the banner of the Millennium Development Goals.
Pascal Tanguay (AHRN) was also invited to present the results from the UNGASS on drugs and highlight linkages for community groups to pursue within the UNGASS on HIV. Presented from an IDPC perspective, Pascal covered the UNGASS on drugs processes and mechanisms as well as salient outcomes. This was followed by an overview of implications and suggestions for future action. Amongst the most significant recommendations, Pascal identified petitioning UNAIDS and the PCB for system-wide coherence within the UN family on drug-related issues; invited HIV activists to share their experience of engagement with the UN and particularly UNGASS towards an exchange of skills across the drug and HIV fields; proactively contacting national governments in the region to encourage consistent internal positions on HIV, drugs and human rights; and to further encourage governments to present evidence to support their country monitoring, evaluation and reporting processes.
Participants’ reactions to the session indicated great interest from community groups to engage further in UNGASS although there are clear limitations among those groups given limited knowledge and experience around UNGASS, pointing to a need for more advocacy and community support.