Our Perspective

      • The unfinished business of the AIDS response | Mandeep Dhaliwal

        29 Nov 2012

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        HIV/AIDS Prevention and Care programme in South Sudan. Photo: UNDP South Sudan

        HIV responses worldwide have achieved remarkable progress. At the end of 2011, more than 8 million people were accessing life-saving HIV treatment—a 20-fold increase from 2003. New HIV infections have also dropped sharply in numerous countries, including some with high HIV prevalence. But social exclusion, inequalities, and human rights violations continue to drive the spread of HIV and other diseases, with a disproportionate impact on women and marginalized populations. These include men who have sex with men, people who use drugs, sex workers, and transgender people.  According to a 2012 report by the Global Commission on HIV and the Law, discriminatory and punitive legal environments, violence, and other abuses are also helping spread HIV. Doing a better job of enforcing protective legislation and ensuring that social protection policies cover those affected by HIV can contribute to more inclusive, effective, and efficient HIV responses—leading in turn to reduced inequalities and more resilient people and communities. For the first time in the history of the AIDS response, domestic investments in HIV have surpassed international assistance: 80 countries increased domestic investment in national HIV responses by more than 50 percent from 2006-2011. All the more reason to strengthen national capacity for implementing rights based Read More

      • International justice begins at home

        21 Nov 2012

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        Timorese Judges being sworn in and taking oaths. Credit: UNDP Timor Leste

        The restoration of justice and the punishment of those who commit human rights abuses can be vital first steps in peacebuilding; both for countries recovering from conflict, and for societies trying to overcome the trauma of violence. In March this year, the International Criminal Court (ICC), the first permanent criminal court mandated to investigate and prosecute those responsible for genocide and crimes against humanity, handed down its first judgment since being established in 2002. Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga Dyilo was found guilty of using children under the age of 15 in armed hostilities. This judgment inaugurated a new age where the ICC acts as a court of last resort. This notion, called “complementarity,” forms the founding principle of the ICC, which believes that the primary responsibility for investigating and prosecuting serious crimes rests with national authorities and states. If countries are willing and able, justice is best delivered where the crimes occurred. However, many post-conflict countries do not have the capacity to conduct such investigations. Even if the political will exists, domestic judicial systems often lack adequate witness protection services, prison facilities, and other resources to conduct fair trials. To realize the complementarity principle, there needs to be a closer relationship Read More

      • Democratic transition demands courageous leadership | Olav Kjørven

        09 Nov 2012

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        Tunisia Constituent Assembly Elections 2011

        Of late, we have witnessed dramatic change in many parts of the world. Autocratic leaders in the Middle East and North Africa have been ousted or forced to resign. Myanmar has embarked on a determined path towards reform. Economic, social and political reasons triggered these societal changes. Hence people’s call for “bread, freedom, dignity” in Egypt’s Tahrir Square, where we saw that political transition can – if rarely - happen almost overnight. But autocratic regimes leave legacies, economic structures, incentive systems and institutions that do not disappear as a dictator steps down or aside. Political rights, human rights, progressive social and economic policies, fair jobs and the primacy of the rule of law do not automatically follow moments of significant political change. One of the first choices the leaders of transition must make, therefore, is to be inclusive as they start to define their future.  For legitimacy and longevity, there must be sustained channels for dialogue and decision-making with all people – civil society and academics, the business elite and the military, the politicians and the public, especially the marginalized. This is the only way to renew trust and rebuild a nation’s social contract. This is most difficult. At the very Read More

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