High Level representatives from the Justice, Health and Civil Society Organizations from Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu gather in Nadi to share their experience on human rights compliant HIV Policies and Laws.The 3 days 'writeshop' (11-14 September, 2011) was organized by a partnership between the UNDP, UNAIDS, PIAF (Pacific Islands AIDS Foundation) and the Pacific Regional Rights Resource Team of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC/RRRT).
The objective of the workshop was to provide support and technical assistance that is required to advance human rights compliant HIV legislative change by analysing the current legislative status per country, providing various models of legislative reform, looking at the rationale for human rights compliant legislative responses to address the spread of HIV and writing a policy papers to step up progress to legislative reform.
While most HIV interventions target individual behavioral change, it is equally important, if not more, that the norms and structures that shape these behaviours are addressed. There is extensive and longstanding evidence that strategic structural investments can contribute to 'break through' progress.
It is expected that the delegates will leave the 'writeshop' with a strategic plan to implement the policy framework which will work towards guiding the respective countries in their response to HIV.
Garry Wiseman, Manager of UNDP Pacific Centre in his opening remarks highlighted that "...some countries in the region have already passed human rights-based legislation to better address HIV and AIDS: PNG, FSM and more recently Fiji. Others are in the process to start drafting new HIV laws such as Tuvalu and Cook Islands; and some are starting to develop new policy framework to do. This week will be an opportunity to share lessons learned and help each other."
The event represents an opportunity for intra-regional cooperation on these issues and uses an interactive format to ensure countries gain maximum benefit from experience sharing.
Ruby Awa from SPC/RRRT commented that "...this is great, it will allow those countries who are still working on having a HIV legislation share their progress and pick up pointers from those who already have HIV legislation in place."
The event includes the participation of people living with HIV who are taking an active role in the policy dialogue.
"We do not just need representatives, we are present and must take an active part of the dialogue and the policy and law making to address HIV, this is what Meaningful Involvement of People living with HIV means," Temo Sasau, Fijian AIDS Ambassador in his address.