UNGASS +5 Review Meeting Provides Forum for Youth Voices

From May 31 through June 2, 2006, the United Nations General Assembly will convene for the UNGASS +5 Review Meeting at the UN Secretariat in New York . Official country reports are already being submitted, and advocates worldwide are preparing to hold governments accountable to the promises they made in 2001.

In June 2001, heads of state and government representatives of 189 nations gathered at the first-ever Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on HIV/AIDS. There, they unanimously adopted the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS , a plan for the global community to address AIDS that includes priorities and practical goals, including those related to prevention, treatment, and funding. To meet those goals, the Declaration establishes clear targets to be assessed in 2003, 2005, and 2010.1 Since the 2005 deadline has just passed, the UN General Assembly is convening to review countries' progress. It will be looking at official country reports as well as “shadow reports” submitted by expert non-governmental organizations.

UNGASS +5 will cover a broad range of complex issues relating to the AIDS pandemic, and young advocates are beginning to organize to ensure their needs and priorities are not overlooked in the intensive proceedings. The Declaration of Commitment recognizes the specific vulnerability of young people to HIV and AIDS. Half of all new HIV infections worldwide occur in youth ages 15 through 24. Much of the global community recognizes that young people must actively participate in planning the policies and programs that are intended to reach them in order for these to be effective (see related article New UNAIDS Program on Prevention).

“Youth must play an integral role in the AIDS 2006 Review Meeting and have their voices be heard,” explained Beth Pellettieri, International Program and Development Associate at Advocates for Youth. “Youth involvement, through participating on delegations, speaking on panels, and lobbying their country missions, is an integral part of this,” she said.

To prepare young people to contribute meaningfully to the UNGASS +5 proceedings, Advocates for Youth, the Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS, and UNFPA are sponsoring a Youth Summit on May 29 and 30. The Youth Summit will provide 40 young people from both the developing and developed around the world an opportunity to build skills. Through an interactive and focused dialogue, youth participants will develop and discuss youth issues, review progressmade by their own governments, and strategize for post-UNGASS follow-up work and potential political advocacy campaigns. The advocacy message and outcomes of the Summit will feed into advocacy efforts of the Toronto YouthForce for the International AIDS Conference in August.2

For more information on the Youth Summit and how to get involved, please contact Beth Pellettieri at beth@advocatesforyouth.org or Joya Banerjee at joya@youthaidscoalition.org.

For more information on UNGASS Declaration of Commitment and related events, please visit http://www.ungasshiv.org/.

References

  1. World AIDS Campaign together with the Health Development Network, Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise. (2006), accessed 23 March 2006, <http://www.ungasshiv.org/>.
  2. Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS, UNGASS: AIDS 2006 Review and Youth Summit (2006), accessed 23 March 2006, <http://www.youthaidscoalition.org/activities.html>.

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