Last night, UNAIDS hosted a dinner reception for the Global Coalition on Women & AIDS leadership council at the Ford Foundation. Several leaders spoke briefly, including UNAIDS chief Peter Piot.
To a room of official country delegates to the UN and high level NGO staff, Piot confessed his disappointment about the state of negotiations — as of last night — on the political declaration for the UNGASS on AIDS.
"I am angry," he said, adding that the political maneuvering in the negotiations were coming close to being "unethical."
"This is about people's lives."
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He closed his brief speech by telling the audience — which included Mark Dybul, the acting director of the US Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator, administator of PEPFAR — that he hoped his anger would be a motivating tool, and asked that all of the delegates seriously commit to closing out the negotiations and developing a helpful final declaration.
Those of us at the meeting wondered afterward about whether he would take his frustrations to the podium at the opening plenary this morning, but regardless of whether or not he and others keep such thoughts for smaller venues, his strong words reflected the general state of negotiations at the present: not good.
Members of the world community have gathered at the UN to negotiate a path toward fighting the worst most widespread epidemic in human history. There is an opportunity before them to speak — and to act — to protect and save the lives of millions. But once again, there are concerns that significant action may not be taken because ideology and self-focused national priorities are superceding effective and inclusive plans for prevention and treatment.
We're continuing our live coverage of the UN Meetings on HIV/AIDS where the anger may spill out into the streets at this afternoon's rally and in more meetings as tension here grows.