93rd Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly 69th Session

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08-Jun-2015 02:07:34
Preventing HIV/AIDS ‘Unfinished Business’, Say Speakers as General Assembly Quantifies Notable Progress in Some Regions, Backsliding in Others
Sixty-ninth Session, 93rd Meeting (AM)

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With great strides made in reversing the global HIV epidemic since the dawn of the new millennium, the international community must build upon that progress — and avoid complacency — as it set out a new, post-2015 development agenda, speakers told the General Assembly this morning.

The global AIDS response had been highly successful in reversing, and in some cases even stopping, the spread of the virus, said Lyutha Sultan al-Mughairy (Oman), who spoke on behalf of General Assembly President Sam Kutesa (Uganda). New infections and AIDS-related deaths were falling globally and risk-taking behaviour had declined, as had mother-to-child transmission rates. Access to life-saving anti-retroviral therapy had vastly improved.

Nevertheless, she said, worldwide, 2.1 million people became newly infected with HIV in 2013 and 1.6 million had lost their lives to the disease. There were 36 million people living with HIV today, and 19 million did not know they were infected. Meanwhile, social and economic inequality and gender-based violence continued to put women and girls at an unacceptably high risk of infection.

Welcoming the target to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030 within the proposed sustainable development goals, she said that progress in the AIDS response was closely intertwined with other objectives outlined across the Millennium Development Goals, including those related to health, gender equality, human rights and development as a whole. Significant value lay in the lessons learned from the AIDS response.

Many delegations, describing national efforts to reduce HIV prevalence rates and to support people living with the disease, noted sharp declines in HIV infection rates and success in preventing mother-to-child transmission.

The representative of Rwanda, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said new infections and deaths continued to decline in sub-Saharan African. African Governments had shared responsibility and strengthened accountability and partnerships in building long-term and sustainable solutions. He urged innovative funding sources, as well as tailored services to ensure no one was left behind.

Kenya’s speaker said the Secretary-General’s report on the matter highlighted the extraordinary gains, but also reminded the world that “the task is far from over”. Of great concern was the slow progress and backsliding in some countries and regions. “We all recognize that there is unfinished business,” she said of the Millennium Development Goals.

Speaking on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the representative of Zimbabwe said that there were lags in access to HIV treatment, notably for adolescents and children. It was important to expand proven prevention programmes to include women and young girls, who remained vulnerable.

The representative of the European Union said, despite remarkable achievements made in reducing global HIV infection and AIDS-related deaths, much remained to be done, and the fight against HIV/AIDS would remain an urgent international challenge in the post-2105 development agenda. At the country level, there was a need to invest strategically in tailored responses in order to ensure that resources and programming were targeted to the needs on the ground and made available to populations with a rise in new infections.

While the target of 15 million people receiving life-saving anti-retroviral treatment by 2015 had nearly been met, said India’s representative, the remaining 22 million people infected persons must also be reached. “The challenge before us is not of unavailability of medical treatment, but of accessibility arising from its high cost in developing countries,” he said.

In other business today, the Assembly declared the Czech Republic was elected a member of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law for a term of office beginning on the first day of the forty-eighth session of the Commission in July 2015 and expiring on the last day prior to the beginning of the forty-ninth session of the that body in 2016. Earlier, Georgia, elected in June 2011, had informed the Assembly that it was relinquishing the remainder of its term in favour of the Czech Republic, in line with the Eastern European States rotation.

The Assembly also adopted without a vote the resolution contained in the “Comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects: report of the Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee)” (document A/69/455/Add.1). In a separate decision, it approved an updated proposed programme of work and timetable of the Fourth Committee for its seventieth session, from 5 October to 17 November.

Also without a vote, the Assembly adopted the draft resolution, titled “Comprehensive review of United Nations system support for small island developing States” (document A/69/L.73). Introducing the text on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, the representative of South Africa noted that the “SAMOA Pathway” had tasked the Joint Inspection Unit to establish the parameters of the review, which it published earlier this year. By the text, the Assembly requested the Joint Inspection Unit to conduct a comprehensive review of United Nations system support for small island developing States, in the most efficient and cost-effective manner.

The Assembly also requested that the initial findings of the review and the recommendations thereon be included in the regular report of the Secretary-General to be submitted to the General Assembly at its seventieth session. The complete results, says the text, should be included as an addendum to the report before the end of that session.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 4 p.m. on Monday, 15 June, to elect the President and Vice-Presidents for its seventieth session.
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