More than a dozen Heads of State and Government, over 100 Ministers, as well as more than a thousand representatives of civil society and the private sector are set to gather at United Nations Headquarters in New York next week for a major review of international efforts to fight AIDS in what officials at the world body today said would be marked by unprecedented action.
The 2006 High Level Meeting on AIDS due to take place from 31 May to 2 June will also include a person living with HIV who will address the General Assembly, delegates close to the process said.
Other speakers include the President of the General Assembly, Jan Eliasson, the Executive Director of UNAIDS, Dr. Peter Piot, and Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who will present a report on progress achieved in realizing the targets agreed by UN Member States in the historic Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS, adopted in 2001 at the UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS.
The meeting will also identify common challenges to scaling-up and sustaining national AIDS responses. Delegates will consider recommendations on how to intensify HIV prevention, treatment, care and support with the aim of coming as close as possible to the goal of universal access to treatment by 2010 for all those who need it.
Nearly 800 civil society groups have been granted special accreditation to the meeting, an unprecedented number for such a gathering, and many more are expected to attend as part of organizations already accredited to the UN or as part of national delegations, the officials said. A hearing will be held to provide an opportunity for civil society to exchange views with Member States.
The meeting will also feature a series of panel discussions as well as roundtables on a range of critical topics, including financing a scaled-up AIDS response and overcoming stigma and discrimination. Building on these discussions, a political declaration will be adopted at the close of the meeting on 2 June. Officials said today that agreement is close on the key points, though language on financial assistance has yet to be approved.
An Evening of Remembrance and Hope: Uniting the World Against AIDS will take place 1 June in the General Assembly Hall. The event will remember the 25 years of AIDS and the heroes who have shaped the AIDS response.
In addition to UN officials, the event will see the participation of numerous celebrities, including Noerine Kaleeba, Naomi Watts, Iryna Borisheck, Mary Fisher and Whoopi Goldberg. The event will also include performances by Wyclef Jean, Salman Ahmad, the African Children’s Choir and Angelique Kidjo.