Statement by the Director-General, Jan Beagle at the High-level Meeting on HIV/AIDS
I am very pleased to address the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on HIV/AIDS as Director-General of the International Development Law Organization.
We are meeting against a sombre backdrop.
The world marks the 40th anniversary of the AIDS epidemic in the midst of the greatest crisis we have faced since the Second World War.
As the only global intergovernmental organization working to promote the rule of law and access to justice, as essential enablers of sustainable development, IDLO works at the intersection of public health, law and development.
Since 2009, IDLO has worked to promote a rights-based response to HIV and AIDS.
As this meeting reviews progress on the 2016 Political Declaration, and examines ways to accelerate action towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030, allow me to share three observations from IDLO’s experience, about the pivotal role of the law, human rights, and access to justice in the global HIV response.
First, Effective laws and institutions can be a powerful force in the fight against AIDS.
As COVID-19 has reminded us, all states need effective legal frameworks to deal with significant public health challenges, especially during emergencies such as pandemics.
Good legal and policy frameworks contribute to the prevention of infectious diseases by enabling rights-based service delivery and by facilitating screening, counselling, education and treatment of those at risk.
Legal services, in particular, are a key part of the enabling environment in national responses.
IDLO promotes more effective legal support for people living with HIV by providing technical assistance, legal education, and capacity building for justice officials, civil society, and vulnerable populations.
We have also helped to convene dialogues between government agencies, law enforcement officials, and vulnerable populations to build trust, and promote greater responsiveness to the needs of those living with HIV.
My second point is that empowering people and communities is essential.
People who are aware of their rights, and how to seek remedies for their violation, are better able to challenge the overlapping and intersecting layers of discriminatory laws, social norms and stereotypes that have contributed so much to the human cost of the AIDS epidemic.
We must empower those living with HIV with the knowledge and tools to engage with laws and institutions that affect their daily lives, from formal and informal justice actors to local government and social service providers.
Third and finally, we must urgently tackle the underlying inequalities and discrimination that remain the most significant barrier to ending AIDS by 2030.
COVID-19 has reinforced the lesson of the AIDS epidemic that while no one is entirely immune, the most severely affected are those already in conditions of poverty, marginalization and exclusion.
As we recover from the COVID crisis, we must ensure that we rebuild a world that is fairer and more equal, particularly for women and girls, and for all people living with HIV, many of whom face injustice on a daily basis.
We need to uphold human rights principles, norms and standards; commitments to gender equality; and approaches that put communities at the centre of the global response.
At both international and national levels, the law is a powerful tool to tackle stigma and discrimination and to empower people to claim their right to a healthy life.
As the Global Aids Strategy reminds us: Ending AIDS requires ending inequalities. IDLO is committed to working with you to make this goal a reality.
The International Development Law Organization (IDLO) enables governments and empowers people to reform laws and strengthen institutions to promote peace, justice, sustainable development and economic opportunity.