The United Nations Development Programme, on behalf of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS, launched the Global Commission on HIV & the Law in June 2010. The Commission will work to develop evidence-informed, human rights-based recommendations for effective HIV responses that promote and protect the human rights of people living with and most vulnerable to HIV. Civil society will play an important role during and after the life of the Commission. This is a very important initiative, which is likely to examine issues and generate action around punitive laws that affect key populations, promotion of women’s rights and removal of legal barriers to HIV treatment. These are areas where better law and law enforcement, improved government policy and practice, and effective programmes and investment are urgently needed; and around which civil society has vital experiences, roles and messages.

Key Areas of Inquiry

The Commission will focus on some of the most challenging legal and human rights issues in the context of HIV. At this stage the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) of the Commission is in the process of recommending key areas of inquiry for the Commission to include within its mandate. These are covered by the following categories:

  1. Punitive laws and practices that effectively criminalise lives
  2. Laws and practices that sustain violence and discrimination as lived by women, and
  3. Laws and practices that impede treatment access

Civil Society Engagement

During this 18-month process the Commission will reach out to civil society working on the HIV response and related issues, including groups and networks of key populations to engage in dialogue on the need for rights-based law and policy in the context of HIV. The World AIDS Campaign is working with the Commission and its Secretariat to ensure that civil society engages meaningfully and is able to effectively voice its views and concerns in this process.

How can we influence what the Commission looks at?

Currently, the first opportunity for such dialogue is this public call to make brief submissions (maximum two A4 size pages) on the issues of priority within the above three areas that you feel need to be addressed by the Commission.

Submissions should be sent in English, French or Spanish by 5 September 2010 to the World AIDS Campaign at gchl@worldaidscampaign.org, which is coordinating this effort. The World AIDS Campaign will collate these submissions and prepare a paper that will be shared with the Commission for their consideration at its first meeting on 6 and 7 October 2010.