TURKEYEN, Greater Georgetown, Guyana (CARICOM) — “We need results.
It is time for accelerated action”, says St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister, and Chair of the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS, the Rt Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas. The Prime Minister was speaking at the official opening of the Caribbean Consultation on Justice for All and Human Rights Agenda, in Kingston Jamaica, on Wednesday.
Dr. Douglas noted that ten years since the landmark DFID/PANCAP Conference on stigma and discrimination, the bottlenecks and barriers to eliminating stigma and discrimination have not been fully identified, notwithstanding the establishment of a Stigma and Discrimination Unit.
The message of concerted and urgent action to promote social inclusion to reduce stigma and eliminative discrimination resonated in the various presentations. These presentations came from Dr. Mark Dybul, Executive Director of the Global Fund, Senator the Hon. Dr.Mark Golding Jamaica Minister of Justice, Dr. Luiz Loures, Deputy Executive Director of UNAIDS, Ms. Mandeep Dhaliwal, Director, Health and HIV Development, UNDP, Prof. Archibald McDonald, Vice Principal of the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies, Dr. Carolyn Gomes, Executive Director of the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition, and Justice Michael Kirby, former Chief Justice of Australia, who delivered the keynote address.
According to Dr. Dybul “we cannot beat the epidemic unless we welcome all people into the human family.” Noting that Justice for All provides the pillars for eliminating stigma and discrimination thereby leaving no one behind, the Director added that the Caribbean had the tools to completely control the epidemic, this is a “historic moment,” he added.
Dr. Loures, in reiterating the call for social inclusion, referred to the major contradiction in the global response, noting that the Caribbean was part of this contradiction. While major progress has been made, the contradiction of discrimination, where some people are left behind, still existed. “We need a change in business now,” he stated and urged the Consultation to set complete targets which dealt with discrimination.
In his keynote address, Justice Kirby charged the meeting to go beyond the drawing board to make change happen. He identified a number of steps including: basing policies on good science; reaching out to those who are most affected and at risk and speaking in their language. Justice Kirby urged the meeting to act with courage and urgency. In drawing attention to the need for second and third line treatment, the former Chief Justice said “we are reaching a crucial moment in treatment; science is beginning to show that first line treatment is not as effective.” At the same time, he called attention to the importance of improving patent law, adding that the universal right to access health must be reconciled with the universal right to recognition for intellectual property.
The three-day Consultation will, among other things, consider updates and outcomes of the key Caribbean milestones on HIV-related human rights and the setting up of a policy and advocacy monitoring group for the Justice for All Programme. The expected outcome is a PANCAP Justice for All Roadmap which identifies concrete programmes and policies to dismantle structural barriers that deny human rights and impact vulnerability.
The Consultation is being coordinated by the PANCAP Coordinating Unit in collaboration with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS), the Government of Jamaica and the University of the West Indies, with funding support from the Global Fund for Tuberculosis, AIDS and Malaria (GFATM).