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UNFPA Global Population Policy Update
Suva Parliamentary Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS
ISSUE 45 - 16 November 2004
On 11-13 October 2004, the Fiji Parliament on behalf of the Pacific Parliamentary Assembly on Population and Development (PPAPD) hosted and convened a Regional Meeting in Suva, Fiji, on â€œThe Role of Parliamentarians in the Fight Against HIV/AIDS in the Pacific Region. The meeting was jointly organized by the Fiji Parliament, UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).
The three-day meeting saw participants reaffirm their commitment to the declarations on HIV/AIDS adopted at the UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS (New York, June 2001), the first Asia-Pacific Ministerial Meeting on HIV/AIDS (Melbourne, October 2001) and the second Asia-Pacific Ministerial Meeting on HIV/AIDS (Bangkok, July 2004). They also recalled the endorsement of the Pacific Regional Strategy for HIV/AIDS (2004-2008) by Pacific leaders at the Pacific Islands Forum Meeting, held in Samoa in August 2004.
Over 140 people attended the meeting, including Parliamentarians from 17 Pacific Countries and Territories, representatives from UN agencies, bilateral donors, civil society organizations, people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHAs) and the mass media. The participating countries included: Australia, American Samoa, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, New Zealand, Niue, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
Funding assistance was received from a number of collaborating agencies including UNFPA, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), New Zealand Agency for International Development (NZAID), Asian Forum for Parliamentarians on Population and Development (AFPPD), Secretariat for the Pacific Community (SPC), United Nations Childrenâ€™s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Fund for Women (UNIFEM), World Health Organization (WHO), International Labour Organisation (ILO), Asian Development Bank (ADB), and the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
The meeting was a platform for Pacific lawmakers to discuss and learn about the various international, regional and national programmes and funding mechanisms that can help Parliamentarians with their national efforts and to put their vision and goals into action.
At the conclusion of the meeting, the Pacific parliamentarians present adopted the following declaration which recognized HIV/AIDS as taking an increasingly terrible toll on women and girls, the young, the disadvantaged and other vulnerable groups and also called on the international community, development partners and the pharmaceutical industry to make Anti-Retroviral (ARV) drugs more accessible and affordable for small Pacific Island developing countries and, where possible, subsidise the costs for these drugs.
As a follow-up to the meeting the Government of Fiji increased the budget for HIV/AIDS programmes from Fiji $150,000 in 2004 to Fiji $500,000 in 2005.
PACIFIC PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY ON POPULATION AND DEVELOPMENT
The Suva Declaration of the First Conference for Pacific Parliamentarians on: â€œThe Role of Pacific Parliamentarians in the Fight against HIV/AIDS
Suva, Fiji, 13 October 2004
We the Parliamentarians from Pacific Island Countries and Territories, at the First Conference for Pacific Parliamentarians on â€œThe Role of Pacific Parliamentarians in the Fight against HIV/AIDS,â€ convened at the Raffles Tradewinds Convention Centre, Suva, Fiji, from 11 to 13 October 2004 hereby:
reaffirm the Declaration of commitment on HIV/AIDS adopted by the UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS (UNGASS, June 2001), the first Asia-Pacific Ministerial Meeting on HIV/AIDS (Melbourne, October 2001) and the second Asia-Pacific Ministerial Meeting on HIV/AIDS (Bangkok, July 2004);
recall the endorsement of the Pacific Regional Strategy for HIV/AIDS by Pacific leaders at the Pacific Islands Forum Meeting, held in Samoa in August 2004;
further recall the emphasis placed on the need to protect women and girls from HIV/AIDS, from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Meeting of Parliamentarians on Women, Development and Democracy (Suva, May 2004), from the 7th Meeting of Commonwealth Ministers responsible for Womenâ€™s Affairs (Nadi, June 2004) and the 9th Pacific Triennial Womenâ€™s Meeting (Nadi, August 2004);
recognize the potentially devastating consequences of the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS on social, cultural, economic and developmental prospects, national security and political stability; the high cost associated with inadequate intervention strategies, and the limited options available for treatment and care for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA);
recognize that HIV/AIDS is taking an increasingly terrible toll on women and girls, the young, the disadvantaged and other vulnerable groups;
recognize that although our countries are experiencing different stages of the HIV pandemic, the Pacific as a region is fast approaching a critical epidemic status;
acknowledge the critical importance of taking urgent multi-sectoral responses to halt the further spread of the HIV infection, in particular among young people;
acknowledge with appreciation the efforts made by national, regional, and international stakeholders (including Global Fund, AusAID, NZAID, French Government, UNFPA, UNDP, UNAIDS and other donor organisations) in assisting our Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs) to combat HIV/AIDS, noting that holistic multi-sectoral and transnational intervention strategies are required;
further acknowledge the critical place of exemplary political will and leadership as one of the most important tools that has been shown to reduce the spread and impact of HIV/AIDS.
We commit ourselves, as national leaders and legislators, to join forces in the fight against HIV/AIDS and are determined to translate our political will and commitment to action.
We stand firm in our unrelenting political commitment to accept the responsibility and set examples that would stimulate others to take action and make right choices.
We pledge to mobilize political support and resources from government in partnership with development agencies, regional bodies, private sector, civil societies and faith-based organisations to fight the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
We reaffirm the commitment by our leaders to achieving Goal 6 (combat HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria) of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and to implementing the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Programme of Action.
We reaffirm that Goal 6 of the MDGs cannot be achieved in isolation and that sustainable progress on the Goal 6 targets will depend largely on our progress with Goal 1 (poverty and hunger eradication) and Goal 3 (gender equality and empowerment of women).
We reaffirm that our strategy in fighting against HIV/AIDS should acknowledge positive traditional, cultural and religious values of our Pacific communities, which are based on compassion, solidarity, reconciliation, care and support, and affirm the protection and promotion of human rights.
And we emphasise the need for leadership, and non-partisan political support and commitment, and respect existing programmes and structures that put people first.
We the Pacific Parliamentarians hereby commit ourselves to:
be proactive and energetic advocates for HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention. We will ensure that HIV/AIDS is put at the forefront of discussion, debates and other engagements we undertake at all levels right down to grassroots level, with our constituencies, and at the highest political level;
acknowledge the central role of the family and our traditional systems in promoting positive family and societal values that will help our younger generation in the fight against HIV/AIDS;
acknowledge the critical role of PLWHA in the fight against HIV/AIDS and strongly support their involvement, whilst as the same time ensuring their dignity and rights are protected especially at the workplace, and in their communities, and that their needs for compassion, care, treatment and support are mainstreamed into national structures and regional programmes;
acknowledge the central role of media in the fight against HIV/AIDS. We reaffirm the need for positive, sensitive and responsible reporting on HIV/AIDS. We commit ourselves to work positively with the media at every opportunity to promote the fight against HIV/AIDS as well as ensuring that the dignity, rights and needs of PLWHA are protected;
encourage partnerships with faith-based organisations, established institutional trade unions (such as teachers trade unions), community leaders and civil society groups, including NGOs specifically working on HIV/AIDS, PLWHA and their networks, development partners and governmental institutions in the region in order to maximize coverage and raise awareness on HIV/AIDS to reach people at all levels and all walks of life, with a particular focus on teachers, students and vulnerable groups.
support intervention and prevention strategies beyond the â€œAbstinence, Be Faithful, Condoms, Delay (ABCD) approach, such as promoting education for all, particularly for vulnerable groups and young people;
promote HIV/AIDS strategies that specifically focus on women and girls. We commit to advocate with our governments and constituencies to encourage and facilitate policies and legislative actions that promote women's economic and social empowerment, including their equal access to resources and opportunities, and to a life free of violence and discrimination;
recognize that today the vast majority of HIV/AIDS cases worldwide are sexually transmitted or associated with pregnancy, child birth or breast feeding. We commit to integrating HIV/AIDS services and reproductive health care in ways that work for women and girls and that increase their access to these vital services;
reaffirm the right of young people to knowledge and skills that promote informed choices and increased livelihood opportunities. This right must include the right to sexual education, and user-friendly reproductive health services. We call upon our governments to encourage families, civil societies, faith-based organisations and national and local institutions to provide them with these services;
also reaffirm the right of all Pacific Island peoples to lives free of poverty. We commit ourselves to advocating policies conducive to the eradication of poverty and the removal of all economic and social inequalities.
advocate for the provision of readily available Reproductive Health commodities, especially male and female condoms, at all appropriate levels in our countries to ensure they are accessible when needed;
encourage information-sharing on success stories to expand our knowledge and translate our commitment into action;
strongly encourage Pacific Island Countries and Territories to share information and monitor our respective implementation of the various national strategies and international instruments on HIV/AIDS, and cooperate with one another for the effective implementation of the Pacific Regional Strategy on HIV/AIDS recently approved by the leaders as a common platform for action at national and regional levels respectively.
We the Pacific Parliamentarians will review, reform and enact appropriate legislation that:
encourages and facilitates legislative actions within our governments and constituencies, including the establishment of appropriate Parliamentary Committees to spearhead the fight against HIV/AIDS;
promotes economic independence, equal access to resources and opportunities and a life free of stigma, violence and discrimination of the most vulnerable groups in our communities, particularly women and girls, the young and the disadvantaged;
reinforces universal human rights legislation to protect and ensure the dignity of PLWHA;
promotes an integrated response to HIV/AIDS that takes into account the interrelation between Sexual Rights and Reproductive Health Rights and prevention of HIV/AIDS and strategies that specifically focus on women and girls;
protects in the workplace the rights of PLWHA and those at greatest risk of HIV/AIDS, taking into account established international guidelines on HIV/AIDS in the workplace; and
further protects the rights of people in the communities and other settings.
We the Pacific Parliamentarians pledge to:
advocate for adequate levels of financial and other resources to the most in need for multi-sectoral responses to the HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support programmes within all relevant ministries, civil society organisations, with particular emphasis on PLWHA;
ensure that our countries allocate and spend financial and other resources from our national budgets and help identify the gaps for resource mobilization;
recommend the establishment of a Pacific Regional Fund to assist and expand national and regional programmes in the fight against HIV/AIDS;
call on the international community, development partners and the pharmaceutical industry to make Anti-Retroviral (ARV) drugs more accessible and affordable for small Pacific Island developing countries and, where possible, subsidise the costs for these drugs;
recognize that effective mobilisation against the HIV/AIDS epidemic requires strong leadership from all sectors of society including core institutions of society such as legislative bodies. Maximising resource mobilisation will better facilitate availability, accessibility and affordability of essential commodities including reproductive health commodities (particularly male and female condoms), drugs for opportunistic infections and Anti-Retroviral (ARV) drugs;
ensure transparent management and coordination of available resources for Reproductive Health and the fight against HIV/AIDS in order to maximize efficient utilization and distribution of resources for greater impact;
promote the fight against HIV/AIDS as a priority social, family, cultural, development and economic issue. Taking action on the issue would demonstrate that Pacific Parliamentarians are a proactive and responsible group; and
support the lead role of the Pacific Parliamentarian Assembly on Population and Development (PPAPD) in mobilising technical and financial resources, in close collaboration with our regional and international development partners and other stakeholders to facilitate follow-up actions.
The conference expresses its sincere gratitude to the Parliament and people of the Republic of Fiji Islands for hosting this first meeting to mobilise Pacific Parliamentarians in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
The conference also acknowledges with appreciation the following development partners for providing financial resources that brought this important initiative to fruition: United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), New Zealand Agency for International Development (NZAID), Asian Forum for Parliamentarians on Population and Development (AFPPD), Secretariat for the Pacific Community (SPC), United Nations Childrenâ€™s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Fund for Women (UNIFEM), World Health Organization (WHO), International Labour Organisation (ILO), Asian Development Bank (ADB), and United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
The Conference acknowledges with gratitude all the resource people at the meeting, particularly the two PLWHA speakers.
We, the Pacific Parliamentarians hereby, unanimously adopt this, the Suva Declaration on the Fight against HIV/AIDS in the Pacific Region, this 13th day of October 2004.
All previous issues of the UNFPA Global Population Policy Update can now be found on UNFPAâ€™s website at: http://www.unfpa.org/parliamentarians/news/newsletters.htm.
This newsletter is issued by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in its capacity as secretariat for the biannual International Parliamentarians' Conference on the Implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action (IPCI/ICPD). The first IPCI/ICPD was held in November 2002 in Ottawa, Canada and the second in October 2004 in Strasbourg, France. These dispatches are intended to highlight important developments taking place around the world so that parliamentarians can be kept informed of and learn from the successes, setbacks and challenges encountered by their fellow parliamentarians in other countries and regions in their efforts to promote the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (September 1994, Cairo, Egypt). It should be noted that UNFPA does not necessarily endorse all of the policies described in this newsletter.
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