Opening remarks for the national consultation on HIV and the law

Dec 9, 2013

Christophe Bahuet, UNDP China Country Director

Opening remarks for the national consultation on HIV and the law

Your Excellency Mr. Wang Longde, Member of the Cultural and Sports Committee of the National People’s Congress and Secretary General of the Beijing Red Ribbon Forum

Ms. Feng Huiling, Executive Vice President of Renmin University of China

Mr. Li Zhilu, Vice Director of the Department of Legal Literacy of the Ministry of Justice

Mr. Tong Lihua, Director of Legal Aid and Public Interest Legal Affairs Committee of the All China Lawyers Association

Mr. Han Dayuan, Dean of Renmin University Law School

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am extremely pleased to be back to the RenMin University Law School, a very close partner of UNDP in China, and it is my privilege to speak on behalf of UNDP at the opening of the Red Ribbon Forum consultation on HIV and the law.

This consultation is the culmination of over one year of work done in close partnership between UNDP and Renmin University. I want to particularly thank Dean Han Dayuan, Deputy Dean Lin Jia and the entire Law School for their support and contributions to this work and for hosting us today.  Let me also thank the Red Ribbon Forum for lending their important platform for today’s consultations, and the UNAIDS office in China for supporting this meeting, and all of you for your participation.

As we start this consultation, it may be worthwhile to place it in the international and regional context.

As we remember, when -at the beginning of the new millennium- countries gathered at the UN in New York and articulated a new development agenda, they recognized the terrible impact of the AIDS epidemic. Millennium Development Goal 6 called for global efforts to halt and begin to reverse the epidemic. This Goal has inspired unprecedented action in the response to AIDS globally. 

Ten years later at the 2011 General Assembly High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS, UN Member States reviewed a decade of historic progress and endorsed the “2011 Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS”. While this declaration recognizes that significant progress in science and technology and how its impact on the epidemic, it also highlights that in too many countries punitive laws, gender-based violence, stigma and discrimination obstruct progress, particularly among populations at risk and women. The declaration commits governments to review laws and policies that adversely affect the successful and equitable delivery of HIV prevention, treatment and care services. China was at the forefront of this process at the highest political level, with then Premier Wen Jibao endorsing the declaration in New York.

At the regional level, Governments in Asia and the Pacific, including China, have reinforced their commitment with two UN ESCAP Resolutions (66/10 and 67/9), and a Regional Framework for the Implementation of the Political Declaration on AIDS endorsed at the 68th UN ESCAP Meeting last year.

It was also last year that UNDP hosted the Global Commission on HIV and the Law, an independent commission of global leaders that developed actionable, evidence-informed and rights-based recommendations for effective national responses to AIDS. The message of the Commission reaffirms that some laws, especially punitive ones, obstruct progress, while the laws that empower women, protect affected populations, fight stigma and discrimination, allow prevention programmes are proven to be powerful instruments for public health, development and human rights. The recommendations of the Commission offer guidance to governments in shaping laws and legal practices that are science based, pragmatic, humane and just.

It is in this context that UNDP in partnership with UNAIDS is supporting governments to meet commitments and targets. In Asia and the Pacific, our support takes forward the work of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law and the ESCAP resolutions, in particular through country-level law reviews and national consultations on HIV and the law. In China, UNDP has entered into a partnership with RenMin University Law School to carry out a “National Law Review on HIV and key populations” last year and to organize this national consultation today.

Ladies and gentlemen,

UNDP attaches high importance to today’s consultation. Its well structured agenda provides an excellent opportunity for a substantive, open, participatory and concrete discussion on the preliminary findings of the joint report and on the Global Commission’s recommendations. This consultation is another important step in advancing towards our shared objective of contributing to a more effective and sustainable response to AIDS in China, one that promotes equity, social justice and human development.

I therefore wish the consultation to be most successful and thank you for your attention.