Engaging national human rights institutions in national HIV responses
S. Jensen1, L. Cordoba2, L. Nykänen-Rettaroli3, A. Noko4, B. N'Daw5
1Danish Institute for Human Rights, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2Defensoria del Pueblo de Peru, Lima, Peru, 3UNAIDS, Geneva, Switzerland, 4OHCHR, Geneva, Switzerland, 5UN Development Programme, Dakar, Senegal
Issues: National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) can contribute substantially to the protection of human rights in the context of HIV. Depending on their mandate, NHRIs can: monitor human rights situation in their country; conduct information campaigns; build human rights capacity of different stakeholders; review national legislation or legislative bills; advise the State on the implementation of its human rights obligations; handle individual complaints or even initiate investigations into human rights violations without a formal complaint being lodged. National human rights institutions are therefore important stakeholders in national AIDS responses that remain largely unexploited.
Description: A series of regional HIV workshops for NHRIs took place during 2009 and 2010 (East and Southern Africa, West and Central Africa, Latin America and Asia). The regional workshops were part of the efforts to operationalise the UNAIDS/OHCHR Handbook on HIV and Human Rights for National Human Rights Institutions and intended to encourage these institutions to become active partners in promoting rights-based responses to HIV.
Lessons learned: NHRIs function between the State and civil society and often have a far reaching mandate to protect and promote human rights in the national context. By integrating HIV into their activities, NHRIs have a great potential to strengthen national HIV responses. The workshops allowed the participating NHRIs to gain a better understanding of HIV-related human rights, share lessons learnt, develop action plans on HIV, establish links with key populations and initiate regional collaboration on HIV and human rights.
Next steps: To adequately integrate HIV into their functions, NHRIs need to engage further with PLHIV, key populations and National AIDS Commissions; train staff on HIV and human rights; and share lessons of good practice. National stakeholders in the response to HIV should seek the support of NHRIs, and development partners should provide assistance to NHRIs to strengthen their work on HIV-related human rights.
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