The Role of NGOs for Intensifying HIV/AIDS Prevention

March 4, 2009 - UNHQ, New York
At-the-UN/CSW-Conferences/CSW53-Luncheon-2009
By: Bonnie Berry

WFWPI Luncheon Event

WFWPI's delegation to the 53rd Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) and distinguished guests met in Delegates Dining Room 6 for a luncheon cosponsored by WFWPI and WFWP Japan. There were sixty in attendance. Ms. Motoko Sugiyama, VP and Director of WFWPI UN Office served graciously as mistress of ceremonies.

President of WFWPI, Professor Lan Young Moon Park welcomed and encouraged the group to continue their efforts toward peace and development, particularly global HIV/AIDS prevention. Following Professor Park's remarks, Ms. Reiko Sakai and Ms. Yoko Watase serenaded with lovely songs.

Ms. Kaori Ishii, Officer-in-Charge of Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), UNDP, expressed happiness at the sizable delegation from Japan and other countries. Ms. Ishii explained the work of TICAD in both English and Japanese. The first TICAD summit was in 1993 in Tokyo and has been held every five years. The summits are for policy dialog among African and International leaders to promote African development. Ms. Ishii defined twin priorities of TICAD as African ownership and international partnership. The summit last May was co-organized by Japan, UNOCHA (UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs), World Bank and UNDP (UN Development Program). The theme was A Vibrant African Continent of Hope and Opportunity. Focuses of the summit were economic development, human security and the effects of climate change. 41 African heads of state, 3000 individuals and 1300 journalists attended. The summit outcome was taken to the G8 Summit in Hokkaido. Ms. Ishii announced that Japan continues its commitment to aid previously agreed upon, in spite of the economic crisis. Japan will boost support to Africa for community development, water, health and the environment. UNDP began four projects resulting from the recent TICAD 4. One project that UNDP, Japan and partners are working on is fostering support for HIV/AIDS research, policy dialog and care. A pilot project establishes an enabling policy and institutional framework for effective home based care of HIV/AIDS patients. Ms. Ishii reminded us that Africa is 20% of world land that holds 30% of global natural resources but it is still fragile, with millions below the poverty level, the pandemics of HIV/AIDS, malaria etc, and the effects of climate change. The continent is better poised for prosperity than ever but the economic crisis' impact is unknown.

Ms. Ishii concluded with her observation in her six years with TICAD. She noticed African tribal chiefs ponder difficult decisions by "sleeping on it" and asking input of their wives. Similar to their Japanese counterpart, wives often have a final say. But this is not set into legislation; it depends on individuals' wisdom and respect. In this context, Ms. Ishii expressed appreciation for the mission and achievements of WFWPI to seek equal partnership of men and women at home, work, schools and society. She committed to seek partnership between TICAD and WFWPI.

Ms. Kate Weber, Director of the US Fund for UNICEF was presented a donation of $6,700 by Ms. Yoshie Tsuboi, Vice President of WFWP Japan, raised by WFWP Japan to assist Gaza children. Ms. Weber thanked WFWP Japan for the gift, noting that UNICEF is dedicates efforts in Gaza to children's health, education, access to water, sanitation and psycho-social support.

UN Under-Secretary-General for Communication and Public Information, Mr. Kiyataka Akasaka was the guest speaker. Mr. Akasaka has a long, distinguished career serving the international community and UN. He is a published author and co-author of books and articles. Mr. Akasaka explained the main priorities of the UN: to maintain peace and security (first priority), promote environmental, economic and social development, preserve and promote human rights. Climate change is an emerging priority. Problems continue in Darfur, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cote de Ivoire, Liberia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, and Gaza. Since last December the Middle East is a hot zone. Iran, Iraq. Myanmar, Sri Lanka, North Korea, Haiti. The list goes on. Mr. Akasaka explained today's announcement from the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Sudan's President. This is the first time an incumbent president of any country has been indicted. In Sudan the political and humanitarian situation is very difficult. The UN expects Sudan's government to address peace and security in accordance with Security Council resolutions. The conflict between Hamas and Israel continues. People of Gaza, schools, factories, buildings and trees were bombed. They need to reconstruct their lives. The situation is delicate in Iraq still, worsening in Afghanistan. We are worried about the situation in Myanmar, Burma. The human rights situation is not what we would like to see. Mr. Akasaka continued; North Korea is a problem. Many Japanese people are worried that North Korea will launch a missile. At any moment tensions could worsen in that part of the world. Mr. Akasaka explained that the UN worries about all these problems to maintain peace and security. The world is getting safer, more prosperous. But we still have to face the problems. According to Mr. Akasaka, the UN needs NGOs' help to raise awareness. Are the Japanese people aware of the people suffering in these places? He wondered. NGOs need to raise awareness about these situations. The second UN priority is development. The financial crisis is deteriorating development progress everywhere. The UN leadership worries about achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. We have less than six years to reduce the number of people living on less than one dollar a day by half. Mr. Akasaka asked how anyone can live on a dollar or less a day. Access to primary education is improving but in Africa 70 million children are not in school. The number is staggering. The third objective, to maintain gender equality is improving, but girls are discriminated against. In many African countries the targets will not be reached. The other objectives: infant mortality, maternal mortality the situation is really serious. Half a million pregnant women die every year. And infant mortality, in Africa many children die of diarrhea, malaria, measles. All are preventable. In many countries clean water is not available; one in six people cannot get clean water. Two billion people have no access to sanitation. Currently 33 million people are living with HIV. In 2007, more than 2.7 million people were newly infected by AIDS. 20 ml people have died. AIDS is among the Top 10 killers in world and one of top killers in Africa. 67% of AIDS cases are in Africa. Mr. Akasaka stressed, we must address all those goals. Third priority is human rights. Last year the UN celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights, raising awareness. Still, terrible human rights violations continue. In DRC, women and girls are being raped, gang raped as a tool of war. 30% of these rape victims are infected by HIV/AIDS. How can this stop? The UN issues statements condemning these acts. The SG campaigns against violence against women. NGOs need to help. This violence must stop. Attention needs to be brought to these terrible violations of human rights. The other priority is climate change. Mr. Akasaka informed the group that Kyoto 2 will meet in December in Copenhagen. An international agreement will be reached. To get countries to live up to their agreements, NGOs, Civil Society and media must hold countries accountable for their commitments. Next year there will be a review of NPT, nonproliferation treaty. It's a dream to live without nuclear warheads, but actually, even Dr. Henry Kissinger emphasizes the importance of this. Mr. Akasaka stressed that our help is needed to bring world peace and to make the UN stronger.

(View full text of speeches by Ms. Ishii and Mr. Akasaka)

The luncheon meeting closed as all in attendance joined in singing, "Let There Be Peace on Earth".