Commitments on Children and HIV / AIDS

© UNICEF/ HQ04-0700/Pirozzi
Victoria, 11 months, sits in her crib, abandoned to institutional care as a result of AIDS, in the western port city of Kaliningrad.

UNICEF focuses on making a difference in the lives of children affected by AIDS. Following is a list of major global developments guiding UNICEF work.

Millennium Development Goals (MDGs): The Goals promote poverty reduction, education, maternal health, gender equality, and aim at combating child mortality, AIDS and other diseases. In particular, Goal 4 – calls for the two-thirds reduction in the mortality rate for children under five, and Goal 6 – to halt and begin to reverse the spread of HIV and AIDS- by the target date of 2015.

United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on HIV/AIDS: At the June 2001, United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on HIV/AIDS, leaders from around the world drew up a comprehensive set of goals to fight the epidemic. United Nations member states agreed to set national strategies and financing for combating the spread of HIV and the effects of AIDS. They also agreed to the following timebound goals: Reduce HIV prevalence among young people aged 15 to 24 by 25 per cent in the most affected countries by 2005, and by 25 per cent globally by 2010. Ensure that 90 per cent of young people aged 15 to 24 have the knowledge, education, life skills and services to protect themselves from HIV by 2005, and 95 per cent of them by 2010.

UNGASS on Children: The United Nations Special Session on Children in May 2002 set the following goals:

  • Ensure that governments have developed national policies and strategies to strengthen communities’ capacities to provide a supportive environment for orphans by 2003 and to implement those policies by 2005.
  • Ensure that governments have developed national strategies to strengthen healthcare systems and address factors affecting the provision of HIV-related drugs by 2003 and to implement policies to strengthen family- and community-based care for people living with HIV/AIDS by 2005.
  • Reduce the proportion of parent-to-child transmission of HIV by 20 per cent by 2005 and by 50 per cent by 2010.

UNGASS+5 Political Declaration: On May 31 through June 2 2006, leaders gathered at the UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS (UNGASS+5) to assess progress in implementing the 2001 Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS. Leaders of over 140 UN Member States participated in a gathering of governments and civil society to report and review global progress in the AIDS response. The UN General Assembly adopted a Political Declaration at a High Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS in June 2006 which reaffirmed commitment to implement the 2001 Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS and reflected the urgent need to scale up significantly towards the goal of universal access to comprehensive prevention programmes, treatment, care and support by 2010, and made particular reference to the needs of children and women coping with the epidemic.

Core Commitments for Emergencies: In 2003, UNICEF clarified what it would do to protect and assist such children and women, by revising its Core Commitments for Children in Emergencies (CCCs). In so doing, it distinguished between those vital, life-saving interventions that should be done straight away, in the first six to eight weeks of any crisis, and the broader spectrum of activities that may be added, once that initial response is in hand. The Core Commitments for Emergecies provides guidance on what to expect from UNICEF during humanitarian crises in terms of the rights of children to health, nutrition, water, sanitation, protection, education and HIV/AIDS prevention. A useful guide for programme officers, emergency planners, protection staff and all those involved in emergencies.

Convention on the Rights of the Child: The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the first legally binding international instrument to incorporate the full range of human rights—civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. In 1989, world leaders decided that children needed a special convention just for them because people under 18 years old often need special care and protection that adults do not. The leaders also wanted to make sure that the world recognized that children have human rights too. The Convention sets out these rights in 54 articles and two Optional Protocols. It spells out the basic human rights that children everywhere have: the right to survival; to develop to the fullest; to protection from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation; and to participate fully in family, cultural and social life. The four core principles of the Convention are non-discrimination; devotion to the best interests of the child; the right to life, survival and development; and respect for the views of the child. Every right spelled out in the Convention is inherent to the human dignity and harmonious development of every child. The Convention protects children’s rights by setting standards in health care; education; and legal, civil and social services.


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