World Aids Day - UN Family 2011 - UN Resident Coordinator Remarks

13 Dec 2011

Dear UN Plus Global Coordinator,
Dear colleagues, Heads of Agencies,
Dear United Nations family

It is a great pleasure for me to celebrate with you the World AIDS Day as a UN family in Rwanda. The AIDS epidemic is a challenge for the overall development of a country. As the UN, we consider an effective response to AIDS epidemic as crucial if we are to reach the overall MDG targets.

That is why HIV and AIDS are among our priorities in the support to the country. Together with Health, Population and Nutrition, the UN family in Rwanda has dedicated a specific thematic area on HIV, to coordinate UN support to the national HIV response. Under the leadership of UNAIDS and UNFPA, all UN agencies provide technical and financial support to national institutions, including various stakeholders and civil society organizations, with the purpose of making Universal Access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support a reality.

The One UN considers the goal of implementing HIV programs at the work place important. It is in this context that UN Cares has been tasked to plan and monitor activities of HIV programs at UN work places. Their programs include HIV prevention services, for example, availing condoms at the work place, promoting dialogue on HIV prevention, as well as support to colleagues living with HIV. These services are very important for all UN staff, and together with my peer heads of agencies, I commend the work that has been done so far. But we also request double efforts to ensure that these services reach everybody.

As also pointed out by the UNAIDS Executive Director, this year has been a year of achievements, of collective action, of resilience and of courage. In spite of the economic downturn that has stretched the AIDS response to its limits, millions of lives have been saved, as HIV treatment and prevention efforts continue to show results. World leaders have made new promises—bold, tangible and realistic. These promises now must be delivered in every country, in every community, and to every person in need.

UNAIDS’ leadership in calling countries to align their efforts to reach Zero New HIV infections, Zero AIDS related deaths, and Zero Stigma and discrimination associated to HIV by 2015 is much appreciated. These seem to be ambitious targets – but we do believe that we can make them a reality.  

Colleagues,
Let me also comment on the aspect of treatment.  "Zero AIDS Related Deaths" signifies a push towards greater access to treatment for all; a call for all to access HIV counseling and testing, and a strong call for zero tolerance on stigma and discrimination associated to HIV. It must be clear that the UN does not tolerate any form of stigma and discrimination – neither associated to HIV infection, nor any other.

Dear colleagues,
Today is a great day, and an important one to show our support to the UN Plus program. In the presence of our colleague, the UN Plus global Coordinator, Mr. John Oshima Yoshiyuki, we launched the UN Plus Association and Friends of UN Plus in Rwanda. This is very important and a major sign of implementing UN HIV work place programs. This is also a call for action to UN Heads of agencies to intensifying support to this important program. I have myself recently met a representative from the UN+ programme in Rwanda and reconfirmed our commitment for their full support as part of the UN family.

I thank the organizers of this meeting for the preparations done – I thank you all for your participation and, as said above: Ambitious targets are important but also challenging, in terms of availing time, financial support and commitment. Hence I take this opportunity to reiterate UNCT’s commitment to support UN Cares activities and the UN Plus program in Rwanda.

Thank you for your attention.