Follow-up to the thematic segment from the 35th PCB meeting: Halving HIV transmission among people who inject drugs

The NGO Delegation, working with a civil society advisory group, submitted strong draft Decision Points (DPs) following the 35th PCB Meeting thematic segment on halving HIV transmission among people who inject drugs. In April, the PCB Bureau was presented with extremely weak DPs that hardly took into account the Delegation’s submission. This set up what proved to be the most difficult and controversial struggle of this meeting.

First, the Delegation used its seat to block the original DPs proposed to the Bureau. This resulted in slightly stronger DPs, to which the delegation assented, even while strongly articulating its intention to bring more strongly worded DPs to the meeting. Meanwhile, the delegation had already begun talking with member states, as well as UNODC, UNDP and WHO, with the goal of building strong support for more forceful DPs.

The US government was particularly responsive to the delegation, sending the delegation an amended draft of the DPs that incorporated much of our objectives even before the meeting. This became the template for negotiations. The Delegation recommended six amendments to the US version, and five were readily adopted. Unfortunately, the US, Canadian and Iranian governments, among others, indicated that they could not accept “decriminalization” in any form, so this was dropped, though “alternatives to incarceration” was maintained.

Unlike any prior PCB meeting, both representatives of Iran and Zimbabwe, the current chair of the PCB, agreed to meet with the Delegation in advance, resulting in very fruitful dialogue. Moreover, Zimbabwe decided to host informal drafting discussions rather than wait for the appointment of a formal drafting group. That process, along with many conversations in the corridors, led to the unanimous approval of a set of DPs (find here) that met nearly all of civil society’s objectives, and that produced one of the strongest sets of DPs ever from the PCB. These DPs, if implemented, will not only have significant impact on the ground, but will also influence the UNGASS on Drugs and the HLM on HIV/AIDS, both happening in 2016. Two interventions were made by the delegation in support of the DPs: Eastern Europe NGO Delegate intervention and North America NGO Delegate intervention.

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