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Regional Dialogue of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law

Levan Jorbenadze
Legal Advisor/Attorney
May 31, 2011

According to the Commission – Eastern Europe and Central Asia is the only region in the world where the HIV epidemic remains on the rise and there are approximately 1.4 million people living with HIV. The Ukraine and Russia account for about 90 percent of the new HIV infections. Access to antiretroviral treatment remains low and accounts only 19 percent. Particular concerns are vulnerable groups, such as injecting drug users accounting about 60 percent of the new HIV infections, as well as people in prisons and police jails. Five countries do not allow opioid substitution treatment; drug use is made a crime in six countries. Three countries criminalize sex work.

On 18-19 May, 2011 in Chisinau the capital of Moldova more than 110 activists those with direct, personal experience; working with affected and vulnerable population; Academic workers, lawyers, advocates and Government representatives from 13 countries met for this Regional Dialogue and discussed one of the main issue such as legal barriers

which blocking progress on HIV and AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The purpose of the meeting with the activists in the field was to ensure their voices are heard and the final recommendations are based on the practice of the law.   

The working method of the commission was clear and rather global. First the commission collected letter based submissions from all the active activists from the region. With these submissions the activist wished to drew the commission’s attention on the problems existing in their native countries. The commission selected several probably from a number of thousands of the submissions and invited their authors. On the first day the regional dialogue conducted in parallel regime and the organizers separated the government and civil representative in different conference halls. As planed not all government representatives from those 13 countries of the region attended and just three of them joined to the activists on the second day.

Contrary to the government the activists were very active with full of enthusiasm raised their concerns as most with from personal experience with the goal to help the commission to make the outmost to address their governments with the most vivid and effective recommendations and concrete plan to follow-up.

The Global Commission on HIV and Law launched in June 2010 by UNDP to provide global leadership on HIV-related legal and human rights issues by: analyzing interactions between legal environments, human rights and HIV; fostering evidence-informed public dialogue on the need for right-based law and policy in the context of HIV and finally identifying clear and actionable recommendations.

Vivik Divan a lawyer from Bombay, who works with the UNDP Group’s Cluster on Human Rights, Gender and Sexual Diversities in New York, opened the first day of the regional dialogue among activists and gave a rather short introduction about the commission and answered some of the questions. He underlined the independence of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law from the UN clusters and stated that final product of the commission will be the powerful recommendations not the book with 500 pages.

JVR Prasada Rao the member Secretary, Commission pushed the enthusiasm on the participants stating: “you can be a change agent…”  

Throughout the two day dialogue the activists worked hard and dispersed with the hope that their country governments will listen to the recommendations which should be ready at the end of 2011.
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