Human rights institutions


AIDS and HIV affect the lives of every human being, from those who are HIV-positive, those who know someone who is infected and those non-infected people. This is because, once AIDS and HIV hit, it will in directly or directly influences aspects of our life. As a matter of fact, AIDS is the only health concern in the world that has its own United Nations agency, also known as UNAIDS. However, apart from the work of the United Nations and its several organs does, there are several other international organisations that operate in the worldwide fight against AIDS and HIV. Examples of these international organisations are the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the African Union (AU).

The United Nations

The United Nations does not only contribute to the fight against AIDS and HIV by supply financial, technical and human resources to UNAIDS organisation only, but also coordinate a collaboration of projects and schemes through the majority of the UN agencies. These organisations all have their own particular international responses to reverse the spread of AIDS and HIV virus. Such illustrations are these international organisations:

Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)

Food expenditure in Sub-Saharan African has dropped by forty per cent in rural villages because of the AIDS and HIV virus. As stated by Marcela Villarreal who is a FAO and AIDS specialist “Food is the first medicine for HIV/AIDS — and often the only medicine … as tragic as it is to be orphaned, it is very different being orphaned at 15 years of age than being orphaned at 7. If parents could live a few more years, they could take their children to the fields and teach them by doing.”[1] In brief, parents cannot pass on the agricultural trade to their children, if their children are already orphaned by the age they could learn and understand. For this reason, FAO is working on the issue that everyone should have access to food. Food and agricultural are two vital issues for AIDS and HIV prevention, because malnutrition will increase body infections and spread AIDS-related illnesses in communities where extreme poverty reigns.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

Based in Vienna, IAEA is operating to provide the technological expertise and the know-how to underdeveloped countries in regards to health and food nourishment. In 2005 the IAEA and its Director Dr. Mohammed El Baradei won the Nobel Peace Prize for the prevention of nuclear energy being used for military intentions instead for peaceful measures and goals. Therefore, IAEA decided to distribute the Nobel Peace Prize with the whole world by establishing the IAEA Nobel Prize Cancer and Nutrition Fund. This fund sponsor knowledgeable experts and research related to aid infant malnutrition and health in developing countries. Over the years the “IAEA has supported numerous activities in infant nutrition where stable isotope techniques have been applied. These include projects to measure human milk intake in breast-fed infants, lean body mass (muscle mass) in lactating mothers, and bioavailability of iron in infants and young children.”[2]

International Labour Organisation (ILO)

As stated by Juan Somavia, Director of ILO “HIV/AIDS is a major threat to the world of work: it is affecting the most productive segment of the labour force and reducing earnings, and it is imposing huge costs on enterprises in all sectors through declining productivity, increasing labour costs and loss of skills and experience.”[3] Concisely, employment plays a crucial role in AIDS and HIV prevention, because there are several matters that indirectly affect the livelihoods of human beings who are HIV-positive, such as: sexual discrimination, child labour and universal fundamental human rights. Thus, if there are more people who are not infected by AIDS or HIV, they can find a decent job sustain themselves and their family and thus in the end they are economically contributing the society and increasing the economic wealth.

Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)

Based in Geneva, UNAIDS “is an innovative joint venture of the United Nations family, bringing together the efforts and resources of ten UN system organizations in the AIDS response to help the world prevent new HIV infections, care for people living with HIV, and mitigate the impact of the epidemic.”[4] As a result since 2000, AIDS become an international health concern when the UN Security Council approved Resolution 1308, following this event; a series of achievements became apparent about the importance to reverse the spread of AIDS and HIV for instance the 2000 Millennium Development Goals, the 2001 Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS and the 2006 Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS.[5] UNAIDS is also working in partnership with UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, ILO, UNESCO, WHO, World Bank, NGOs, MNCs and governments to put to an end AIDS by the year 2015.

Office for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

In 2001, the UN General Assembly ratified the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS, as part of the programme to fight AIDS and HIV by promoting universal human rights on a domestic, regional and international level. Annex 1 of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/ AIDS states that “[T]he full realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all is an essential element in a global response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, including in the areas of prevention, care, support and treatment, and […] it reduces vulnerability to HIV/AIDS and prevents stigma and related discrimination against people living with or at risk of HIV/AIDS.”[6] These universal human rights consist of health, gender equality, basic education and decent employment, which all play a significant role to fight AIDS and HIV epidemic. Therefore, if these human rights are not respected, human beings are vulnerable to be infected by this pandemic disease.

United Nation Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)

UNIFEM’s procedure is targeted to help women and young girls combating AIDS and HIV from sexual relations, have access to reproductive health, by promoting maternal health and preventing mother to child transmissions. This is because “gender inequality and violations of women’s rights make women and girls particularly susceptible, leaving them with less control than men over their bodies and their lives. Women and girls often have less information about HIV and fewer resources to take preventive measures. They face barriers to the negotiation of safer sex, including economic dependency and unequal power relations.”[7] Thus, UNIFEM forefront approach is reducing aggression and discrimination against women, improving women decision-making power and decreasing the household burden women carry on their own, especially when it comes to taking care of HIV-positive relatives while continuing to manage their household and working full-time.

United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNCEF)

AIDS and HIV has radically altered the perspective of Sub-Saharan African children on how they view the world, especially if they are orphaned at a young age with nowhere to go and no one to feel belong to. As a result, UNICEF launched its response to prevent the transmission of AIDS and HIV particularly among children is by encouraging thefour ‘P”s guide, which are preventing mother-to-child transmission, providing paediatric care, preventing infection among adolescents and protecting children affected by AIDS.[8] The 2005 campaign ‘Unite for Children, Unite Against AIDS’ was aimed to do away with the situation that few children reach beyond their fifth birthday, because of child mortality, inadequate medical care and lack of primary education. UNICEF isn’t just seeking to eliminate AIDS among children, but according to Mr. Jimmy Kolker UNICEF Chief of HIV/AIDS and Associate Director of Programmes, UNICEF’s “goal is to eliminate the need for that treatment by seeing an AIDS-free generation.”[9]

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United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

UNDP is undertaking the responsibility to “prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and reduce its impact. As a trusted development partner, and co-sponsor of UNAIDS, it helps countries put HIV/AIDS at the centre of national development and poverty reduction strategies; build national capacity to mobilize all levels of government and civil society for a coordinated and effective response to the epidemic; and protect the rights of people living with AIDS, women, and vulnerable populations.”[10] UNDP is currently concentrating on AIDS in relation to development planning and mainstreaming; governance of AIDS responses; international law, human rights, gender equality such as sexual minorities, public health and development partnerships, basic education and maternal and child morality.[11]

United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)

UNESCO is working to stop the spread of AIDS and HIV around the world, by eradicating the social and cultural barriers and put forward on its international agenda the issue of universal education. This is because by “increasing [the] role of education sectors is also a recognition that a good education is one of the most effective ways of helping young people to avoid HIV/AIDS.”[12] Education is the basic foundation of every human being. Without education, human beings are more prone to be vulnerable to AIDS and HIV and that particular individual cannot develop the knowledge of trade so that anyone can economically stable. On the other hand, through its programme ‘The Cultural Approach to HIV and AIDS Prevention and Care’ UNESCO is continuing to eliminate ‘cultural ignorance’ of the local citizens to help them combat the stigma and discrimination that surrounds AIDS and HIV.

United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP)

As stated by Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UNEP, UNEP “as the principal UN body in the field of the environment, recognizes that human well-being is the focus of environment and sustainable development issues. Tackling poverty, promoting gender equality and combating HIV/AIDS are all linked to environmental sustainability; just as environmental sustainability is an essential component of achieving all the UN Millennium Development Goals.”[13] In fact, developing countries were the least countries emitting greenhouse gas emissions, but they were the most affected by climate change due to desertification, lack of rain and drought. The environment erected a barrier towards AIDS and HIV prevention since there was the lack of food storage among African citizens. Thus, this is why, UNEP is contributing its share to compensate African countries which are the most badly affected by the issue of climate change.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

Refugees around the world are more prone to be infected by AIDS and HIV because of ethnic conflict, dislocation, food insecurity and extreme poverty.[14] Food insecurity is the major cause for the fleeing of thousands of refugees to neighbouring countries for shelter and a chance to have a better life. However, refugees who leave their homeland, because of racial clashes often take whatever they have in hand to escape. Once they are in another region they are in deeper poverty because they do not have sufficient money to start a new life and thus they end up living in slum areas and relying on begging in order to get something to eat. Therefore, UNHCR is operating on the notion of food insecurity is the result for the spread of AIDS and HIV since human beings especially women against their wish turn to sex work as a means to economically sustain themselves.

United Nations Human Settlements Programmes (UN-Habitat)

UN-Habitat is working together with local and international policy-makers to improve this lies of people living both in urban and rural areas. These measure which include improved water and sanitation facilities, enhance the lives slum dwellers, eliminate extreme poverty and encourage sustainable development. Dr. Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka Executive Director of UN-Habitat, stated that in order to prevent the continuation of the spread of AIDS and HIV, one needs to first focus on the goal to have secure shelter, because “without a secure home, and a caring family and community, it was difficult, if not impossible, to provide health care and effective counselling to those afflicted.”[15] In other words, UN-Habitat has the responsibility to prevent AIDS and HIV, by first tackling the issue of safe housing particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa where there are a lot of homeless people due to extreme poverty.

United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

UNODC is in charge on the issue to prevent AIDS and HIV epidemic among injecting drug users and in prison settings around the world especially in the Sub-Saharan region. Therefore, the “UNODC is mainstreaming HIV and AIDS into its activities at the national, regional and global levels, and is helping States and civil society organizations to develop and implement comprehensive HIV and AIDS prevention and care programmes for injecting drug users.”[16] Also, with the slogan ‘Think AIDS, before you start, before you shoot, before you share,’ the UNODC is aiming to increase awareness and knowledge on the dangers of illegal substances and their relation to AIDS and HIV viruses especially among adolescents. This is because, it is estimated that there are around 16 million drug users globally and there is the possibility that one in five are HIV-positive.[17]

United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA)

UNPFA’s responsibility is to promote prevention of AIDS and HIV among all genders and all generations, because UNPFA considers AIDS and HIV as an international humanitarian crisis that affects every human being around the globe. These are mainly done by distributing contraceptives and knowledge of birth control among women, refugees and young people, advertising universal access to health especially anti-retroviral drugs, gender equality, respect for human rights and eliminate abject poverty. UNPFA view the role of women as a key factor towards the progress of AIDS and HIV prevention. In fact, as stated by Ms. Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, Executive Director of UNFPA “Women who have been affected by the epidemic are the real experts in the response to HIV … Their experience allows them to give concrete, practical, down-to-earth advice. But their participation must continue beyond an advisory role. Women should also have more say in budgetary decisions.”[18]

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World Food Programme (WFP)

Like FAO and UNHCR, WFP is tackling the issue of food security as a root for AIDS and HIV prevention. Famine in Sub-Saharan African countries has forces local citizens to turn into piracy, crime and prostitution to feed themselves and their family. This is why WFP is working to distribute food as food is the forefront means against the battle of AIDS and HIV disease. According to James T. Morris, Executive Director of WFP, he believes that “Existing therapies require sound nutrition. Adequate food is essential for prolonging the lives of parents and enabling them to have a few more precious weeks, months or maybe even years to work and spend time with their families. Perhaps we cannot give them hope for a cure, but we can give them time.”[19] In other words, Sub-Saharan African people, apart from decent supply of medicines and drugs they are in need more of good quality of food.

World Health Organisation (WHO)

WHO is at the front position in regards to the wellbeing and health of citizens of those who are HIV-positive, are affected by AIDS and HIV or are in danger to be infected by this pandemic disease. Moreover, WHO strategic plan to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS are by facilitate inhabitants to know their HIV status, enlarge the health division’s towards the continuation of AIDS and HIV prevention, increase the development of HIV treatment, support and care, improve and enlarge health procedure, Invest in premeditated knowledge and awareness for better education in regards to AIDS and HIV response.[20] These five important guidelines will help to give a better life to patients suffering from AIDS or HIV.

Policies of the African Union

African Union is a pan-African and inter-governmental organisation that aims to have a mutual partnership to increase affluence and peaceful relations between all African nation states. This union, which consists of thirty-five member states, is currently chaired by Colonel Muammar Gaddafi of the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. The African Union’s purposes in international relations is to point towards “to promote unity and solidarity among African States; to coordinate and intensify cooperation for development; to safeguard the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Member States and to promote international cooperation within the framework of the United Nations.”[21] Above all, the African Union has various projects to put Africa on the international agenda, among these projects there are specific measures taken to eliminate the burden of malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS and HIV in Africa. These international health concerns are tackled, on an international level, with a collaboration of other international organisations such as the United Nations and the Millennium Development Goals.

In order to deal with the problem of AIDS and HIV in Africa, the AU on May 2006 organised a Special Summit themed as the ‘Universal Access to HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Services by 2010’ in Abuja, Nigeria. This summit included delegations from civil society organizations, the UN and its agencies together with members of the African Union and its thirty-five AU member states. This summit started with a follow-up of the results that came out from the 2000 Declarations and Frameworks for Action on the Abuja Summit on Roll Back Malaria and the 2001 Abuja Summit on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Other Related Infectious Diseases.[22] However, this special summit set out new goals that were: first is to re-evaluate the accomplishments made since the 2000 and the 2001 Abuja summits to make sure the AU reach the objectives, in the context of the Millennium Development Goals. Second is to recognise the disparities, limitations and confrontations of the aims of the Abuja Summits and Millennium Development Goals. Third is to ascertain new plan of action that will allow the African Union to keep a record of additional and more pragmatic route with regards to attain the mention targets. Fourth is to get hold of the improved responsibility of the African Leaders for addressing the diseases of AIDS/HIV, malaria and tuberculosis and encouraging health and wellbeing in Africa. Fifth is to intensify the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) within the framework of the New Partnership for Africa’s development (NEPAD) and for assessing the development towards establishing social development. And, sixth was to plan Africa’s Common Position to global forums such as the 2006 UNGASS on AIDS and the 2006 World Health Assembly.[23]

Recently, between the 4th and the 8th of May 2009 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia was launched the 4th Session of the AU Conference of Ministers of Health. The subject of this conference was ‘Universal Access to Quality Health Services: Improve Maternal Neonatal and Child Health.’ The AU Conference of Ministers of Health “provided an important forum for Member States, development partners and other stakeholders to, among others: review progress in health sector development, particularly universal access to services and the health-related MDGs in Africa; devise/adopt strategies for accelerated action towards more effective implementation of commitments for promotion of maternal and child health, survival and well-being in Africa; share experiences and learn from each other as concerns ongoing programmes and activities on health and development in Africa.”[24] In other words, this conference shows that African states especially Sub-Saharan countries are well aware about problems in their individual health sector, and the lack of medicine and drugs to combat HIV and other AIDS-related diseases. Therefore, this is why they are working in an alliance to achieve mutual goals. This conference also publicly introduced the AU’s Campaign on Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa. As well as, the African Union is also giving special attention by concentrating on the issue of AIDS and HIV among the armed forces. Furthermore, on July 2009 in Sirte, Libya during the ordinary session of the African Union launched a programme named ‘Investing in Agriculture for Economic Growth and Food Security.'[25]

Overall, all of these key procedures are taken to deal with the issue of health and wellbeing especially AIDS and HIV from an African perspective, particularly focused to help fellow Sub-Saharan African states. African policy-makers and leaders are taking considerate interest to fight AIDS and HIV from every viewpoint, because they know at firsthand about the social, cultural and economical difficulties this virus brings among their nation. Thus, this is why they are undertaking the notions of health both maternal and infant wellbeing, the local economy, national security and agricultural and food security as a serious matter.

Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria was founded in 2002, by a mutual partnership between national governments, the civil society, bilateral and multilateral international organizations, the private sector and affected societies stand in for innovative paradigm to global health funding.[26] The Global Fund is an exclusive international public and private partnership dedicated to attracting and disbursing additional resources to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

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On June 10th 2009, the Global Fund participated in the 2009 HIV/AIDS Implementer’s Meeting in Windhoek, Namibia, together with the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), UNAIDS, UNICEF, WHO, World Bank and The Global Network of People living with HIV (GNP+). This meeting themed ‘Optimizing the Response: Partnerships for Sustainability,’ attracted more than 1,500 representatives of governmental and non-governmental institutions related to AIDS and HIV. The scope of this conference was to implement a strategic plan and new policies for prevention that will help to stop the spread of AIDS and HIV around the world. In fact, “recognizing the importance of a sustainable global AIDS response, the focus of this year’s meeting will be on optimizing the impact of prevention, treatment and care programs; enhancing program quality; promoting coordination among partners; and encouraging innovative responses to the pandemic.”[27]

Carla Bruni-Sarkozy who is France’s First Lady is currently the ambassador for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Ms. Bruni-Sarkosy is advocating the issue of mother-to-child transmission, by giving a voice on an international level for the many women and children suffering from or affected by AIDS and HIV. On September 2009, Ms. Bruni-Sarkozy delivered a speech at the UN General Assembly, to call on all world leaders to guarantee the increase of the amount of anti-retroviral drugs to HIV-positive expecting mothers. During her speech, which also attended by UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy stated that “In large parts of the world, the face of AIDS is a woman’s face, and often the face of a mother, a mother afraid for herself and for her child. Isn’t this a major failure of our efforts to promote development, when women under treatment can better care for themselves and their families, and form the solid foundation of an entire community, an entire economy?”[28] Concisely, Bruni-Sarkozy’s vision is that, if African countries, with the help of Western nation states remove the barriers and start to educate women about maternal and reproductive health. This investment will build on fertile grounds, the basis of loving and supporting families which will be beneficial to the whole society and will results in better economic system that will be valuable to the whole nation.

As part of World AIDS Day campaign, on 1st of December 2009, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria together with The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief introduced another project that will mutually be providing anti-retroviral drugs to more than three million patients, around the world who live in states that have low or middle wages. “PEPFAR and the Global Fund enjoy a complementary and supportive relationship in the fight against HIV and AIDS worldwide. In order to exploit synergies, PEPFAR and Global Fund-financed programs coordinate at the country level to ensure that resources are used efficiently and effectively. Collaboration and coordination are crucial to the efficient use of money and for making further progress in providing AIDS treatment and care to the millions still in need.”[29] In other words, both PEPFAR and the Global Fund aim to eliminate AIDS and HIV around the world by promoting preventive health care as well as anti-retroviral drugs to patients suffering from AIDS or HIV in developed and underdeveloped countries. This is mainly done, by making the most of their available medicine to reach the vast number of people as possible, and thus change for the better the lives of the citizens.

The Global Fund’s mission is to bring international health concerns like AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria on the international agenda so that the general public around the world can educate oneself about prevention and symptoms of such diseases. It also inform the civil society about how it badly effective underdeveloped countries such as Sub-Saharan states because of the lack of education that is available to the public. This is why, the Global Fund had launched a series of schemes and project to donate medicine and drugs in order to cure patients affected by AIDS and HIV or other related illness while educating those people who are not infected on how to prevent being contaminated by this virus.


AIDS and HIV consumes health, resources and productivity within the national and international; community. Therefore, this is why we are in need of a global response to fight AIDS and HIV illness from every aspect, because every aspect of one’s life that is from education to health to housing to the national economy, affects the lives of the inhabitants especially those who are in danger to be infect by HIV or have an AIDS-related infection. Affluence plays a major role in the policy of a nation state, because the wealthier the country is, the more people can have a better standard of living and distant from any deathly disease. This is why the UN, AU and the Global Fund are bringing about the downfall of AIDS and HIV by implementing policies from every outlook.

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  2. Kinley D. III (ed.) (2006) IAEA Nobel Peace Prize Cancer and Nutrition Fund. Austria: International Atomic Energy Agency. Page: 7.
  3. Citing Juan Somavia, Director-General of the International Labour Organisation (2001) An ILO Code of Practice on HIV/AIDS and the World of Work. Geneva: International Labour Office. Page: iii.
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  6. Citing the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS from OHCHR and UNAIDS (2007) Handbook on HIV and Human Rights for National Human Rights Institutions. Geneva: Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. Page: 3.
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  9. Citing Mr. Jimmy Kolker UNICEF Chief of HIV/AIDS and Associate Director of Programmes from
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  14. and hiv
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  18. Citing Ms. Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, Executive Director of UNFPA from
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  19. Citing James T. Morris, Executive Director of WFP from
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  28. Citing Ms. Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, First Lady of France from
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