TAC Electronic Newsletter

 Contents

  • Statement on UNGASS
  • Correction to factual error in last newsletter regarding Swaziland

In Brief

 Contents

  • Statement on UNGASS
  • Correction to factual error in last newsletter regarding Swaziland

 

In Brief

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UNGASS is a chance to make a new start –

We cannot afford to squander it

 

(JOINT TAC AND ALP STATEMENT – 18 April 2006)

This United Nations General Assembly Special Session on AIDS (UNGASS) meeting, being held in May, is an opportunity to develop a programme of action to create universal access to prevention, treatment and care for HIV. We will campaign for considerable injections of resources for the HIV epidemic, including sufficient financing of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, as well as commitments from UN member states to set feasible targets for treatment, prevention and care.

In March, the South African government objected to the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) and the AIDS Law Project (ALP) being accredited for UNGASS. Hence the TAC and the ALP are two of six organisations that have been prevented from accreditation through the deliberate intervention of UN country members. As far as we can ascertain Namibia and Belarus were the only other two countries that exercised objections. Hundreds of organisations from across the world have been accredited, because their governments did not choose to exercise an objection to their accreditation. 

By objecting to TAC and ALP accreditation, our government acted unilaterally and intolerantly. In media reports, the Director-General of Health explained that the TAC was objected to because it disagrees with and embarrasses government. This was rightly followed by local and international outrage against this action by our government. 
Consequently, government met with the TAC and the ALP. We accepted this offer. There is unfortunately no UN mechanism for undoing the objection to our accreditation. We therefore made the following reasonable demand when we met with government: include TAC and the ALP in the South African country delegation to UNGASS. We would pay our own way and organise our own arrangements, but this would be a way, albeit not entirely satisfactory, to remedy the objection to our accreditation. 

We note that a country delegation has been constructed. We recognise that the Department created the delegation list under tight time contraints, but there should have been more consultation in the construction of the list. They published a list of delegates who would form the country delegation to UNGASS. This list included TAC General Secretary, Sipho Mthathi. 

The following issues remain unresolved:

  • The ALP remains completely excluded.
  • TAC had no say in who would represent us. We were intending to send at least two delegates to UNGASS. In subsequent discussions with the Director-General of Health, Ms. Mthathi has been informed that she is invited in her personal capacity and that the invitation is not to TAC.
  • It remains unclear if there are any conditions associated with being a member of the South African country delegation. The invitation will be acceptable only if the representatives who participate are not subject to any conditions set by government regarding their speech or actions. For TAC and ALP, this would, of course, have been the case if our accreditation had not been objected to.
  • While there are some competent representatives on the country delegation list, none of them to our knowledge lives openly with HIV or represents people with HIV. Both of the SANAC representatives of people with HIV/AIDS should be included to address this.
  • Ms. Mthathi first learnt about her inclusion in the delegation from government's press statement. She only subsequently received an invitation.

ALP MUST BE INCLUDED

Subequently, we have made it clear to government that we expect them to invite the ALP to participate as part of the country delegation. If they do this and the invitation to both organisations has no conditions attached, we will accept the invitation. Otherwise, we shall consider all our options.

TAC looks forward to working with government to ensure that the UNGASS meeting results in useful actions to alleviate the HIV epidemic.

[END OF UNGASS STATEMENT]

Correction to statement in last newsletter

In the last newsletter we stated that Swaziland is the world's last absolute monarchy. This is incorrect, of course. There are a number of absolute monarchies and it was not our intention to minimise the oppression of people and organisations struggling for democracy in these countries. Our apologies for the error. The online version of the newsletter will reflect this correction.

[END OF CORRECTION]