AIDS Action Europe welcomes the decision of the UN Secretary General to appoint Winnie Byanyima as the new Executive Director of the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

We acknowledge the important milestone decision of appointing the first woman as the leader of UNAIDS, however, we are also concerned regarding the potential strategic priorities of Ms Byanyima and concerns raised by representatives of key population communities, especially by sex workers.

We will continue to work closely with UNAIDS and will keep continue to bring concerns of the communities from Europe and Central Asia to the global level and keep UNAIDS and its leadership accountable.

With this in mind, we would like to share again our intervention made at 44th UNAIDS PCB meeting, by our colleague, Ferenc Bagyinszky, who was delegate to the NGO Delegation to the UNAIDS PCB from 2016 till 2018.

“In March earlier this year, during the Special Session of the PCB, under Agenda item 3 - Selection process of the next Executive Director of UNAIDS, we called on this Board to do everything in your mandate to make sure that the selection procedure of the new executive director is transparent and inclusive and takes GIPA, the Greater Involvement of People Living with HIV/AIDS as its guiding principle.

We know from decades of experience that GIPA is key to the success of any programme or process at all levels of the HIV response. Whether it is policy reform, programme planning or hiring staff, when GIPA is at the core and is realised in an inclusive, intersectional and transparent way throughout the process, you can be sure that the programmes planned and delivered or the staff person hired is serving the needs and interests of the individuals and communities it is intended for.

We also know from experience that GIPA is often tokenised and used as a fig leaf, added to programmes and initiatives or job vacancy announcements, to tick the box.

When it comes to the vacancy call of the new executive director of UNAIDS, we were disheartened, but not surprised to see that GIPA as a guiding principle was not the core of the extensive set of criteria but a sentence of encouragement added at the end of the call. A fig leaf.

Today we are very much far in the process of nominating the new executive director of UNAIDS. The shortlisted candidates have gone through an intense procedure, we know their expertise and experience. In our understanding the next step in the procedure is that the cosponsor organisations interview the shortlisted candidates and put forward recommendations of one or more names to the Secretary General. This is our last chance to bring back GIPA to the table.

Hence, this time we call on the representatives of the CCO to make sure that the person or persons they put forward to the Secretary General is fit for the purpose, that is they have GIPA as their guiding principle in their vision and their approach towards all the individuals and communities of PLHIV and all other key populations: people who use drugs, sex workers, gay and bisexual men and other MSM, transgender people, people in prison and other closed settings, and people on the move. All the individuals and communities they are to serve as the executive director of the Joint Programme.

Thank you.“