The Actions:
What We Will Do Between Now and 2010

5. Provide leadership in global effort


Large parts of the world are being overwhelmed by HIV/AIDS. As noted earlier, this disease has the potential to devastate emerging and established economies and destabilize governments, and the impact will be felt worldwide.

The countries most affected are those with the fewest resources. Over 95% of HIV infections are occurring in the developing world, where factors such as poverty, stigma, gender inequality and other forms of discrimination and disempowerment are driving the epidemic. The situation is complicated by the fact that the epidemic itself exacerbates poverty, costing already poor countries people and resources. In these countries, the high rates of death from AIDS-related causes are due largely to lack of access to antiretroviral therapy and other medicines, care and treatment, the costs of which are beyond the reach of many developing countries faced with high debt burdens.

In the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS (UNGASS) Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS, 189 countries around the world agreed to work together to:

  • secure more resources to fight HIV/AIDS
  • ensure that a wide range of prevention programs are available in all countries
  • ensure young people (ages 15 to 24) have access to information, education and services to reduce their vulnerability to HIV
  • reduce the rate of infections in young people
  • reduce the proportion of infants born with HIV
  • strengthen anti-discrimination and human rights protections for people with HIV and vulnerable groups
  • strengthen participatory programs to protect the health of those most affected by HIV
  • empower women to reduce their vulnerability
  • develop national strategies to strengthen health care systems and address access to HIV drugs

Canada has always played an active role in international aid and development. We have a moral obligation to address the inequities that exist between developed and developing nations and to contribute our knowledge and expertise to fighting the global epidemic. As a State Party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Canada is obliged to "take steps, individually and through international assistance and cooperation, especially economic and technical, to the maximum of its available resources, with a view to achieving ... the rights recognized in the present Covenant by all appropriate means ..."

As part of its obligations, Canada has:

  • endorsed the 10-year action plan in the UNGASS Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS, through which countries agreed to work together to achieve significant targets in prevention, care, treatment and support; human rights; and research and development
  • endorsed the United Nations Millennium Development Goal to halt and begin to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2015
  • supported the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
  • supported the WHO's and UNAIDS' 3 by 5 Initiative to help developing countries develop the systems to provide antiretroviral therapy to 3 million people with HIV/AIDS by the end of 2005
  • supported global efforts to develop a preventive vaccine for HIV/AIDS, as well as microbicides
  • implemented the World Trade Organization decision that permits countries to use compulsory licensing to produce and export less expensive generic drugs to countries in need

At the XV International AIDS Conference in Bangkok in 2004, UNAIDS estimated that US$12 billion would be needed by 2005 and US$20 billion by 2007 to fund effective prevention, care, treatment and support programs in low- and middle-income countries. In 2003, the resources available from private, national and international sources totalled only US$4.7 billion. Funding for HIV/AIDS programming must more than double over the next two years to meet the anticipated needs in developing countries. Canada's contribution to HIV/AIDS has not kept pace with the scope of the emergency.

The Global Fund is a cost-efficient and effective mechanism to make additional resources available to fund country-led projects addressing AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Canada's contribution of $US50 million per year is well below our fair share of the global cost to fight these diseases. As a high-income country, Canada should be contributing an equitable amount in proportion to our Gross National Product (GNP). According to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, the federal government should triple its contribution to the Global Fund.92

Since the mid-1980s, Canada's contribution to development assistance has fallen dramatically and now represents only 0.25% of our GNP. This falls far short of the agreed-upon target set over three decades ago and reiterated in the UNGASS Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS of 0.7% of GNP; and it also falls short of Canada's commitment at the G8 Summit in Kananaskis, Alberta, in 2002 to increase its official development assistance by 8%. When Canada does increase its official development assistance for HIV/AIDS, this must be new funding as opposed to money shifted from other important development projects.

Over the past few years, Canada's aid programs have focussed on helping developing countries take the lead in setting their own priorities and in ensuring better coordination with other donors, closer working relationships with the private sector and greater coherence in policies that affect our developing country partners.

While most of the responsibility for our global efforts rests with the federal government, other organizations and individuals can and should play key roles. For example, a number of Canadian civil society organizations have come together to form the GTAG, share information and develop joint efforts to influence Canada's international contribution. At a 2003 summit (Global Health is a Human Right) sponsored by GTAG, a wide range of Canadian organizations came together to develop a common platform that proposes concrete actions organizations can advocate for on human rights; gender and health; public health systems; access to medicines; trade and investment; financial policies; research; and corporate social responsibility.93

At the individual level, Canadians are working in developing countries around the world, helping them increase their capacity to fight the epidemic, provide care, evaluate programs and monitor the spread of disease.

It is important to build links between our global and domestic responses. Canada's researchers, policy makers, community activists and others have much to contribute to -- and much to learn from -- international experience.

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Desired outcomes

  • Canadians are aware of the seriousness of the global HIV/AIDS epidemic and support Canadian efforts to help.
  • Canada is a recognized leader in global efforts to stop HIV/AIDS.
  • Canada fulfils its international commitments and is more effectively engaged in the global response.
  • Canada pursues a consistent, cohesive policy in all its international relationships, which reflects the social justice, human rights and gender equality values that drive this document.

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Canada is providing strategic leadership internationally by:

  • chairing the governing body of the UNAIDS from 2004 to 2005
  • assuming a seat on the board of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
  • making a major contribution to the WHO's and UNAIDS' 3 by 5 Initiative
  • hosting the XVI International AIDS conference in Toronto in 2006

By 2010:

  • Over 90% of Canadians are aware of the global HIV/AIDS epidemic and its impact.
  • Over 90% of Canadians believe that Canada should provide sustained, ongoing financial support to fight HIV/AIDS beyond our borders.
  • Canada makes an equitable contribution to the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, in proportion to its share of the global economy, as measured by GNP.
  • Canada further increases its contribution to the 3 by 5 Initiative to increase access to antiretroviral treatments.
  • Canada's contribution to development assistance increases from 0.25% to 0.7% of GNP.
  • Official development assistance for HIV/AIDS is increased significantly and represents new funding, rather than being taken from existing development budgets and projects.
  • All new and renewed international trade and investment agreements support HIV prevention, care and treatment.
  • The Government of Canada has developed a single, cohesive strategy/plan to respond to the global epidemic.
  • Canada makes a strategic and relevant contribution to global HIV/AIDS policy, within both multilateral fora and bilateral dialogues.
  • Canada makes an increased, strategic contribution to support global efforts to eliminate HIV/AIDS-related discrimination and to respect, protect and fulfil human rights in the context of HIV/AIDS.
  • Canada is at the forefront of global efforts to promote gender equality and sexual and reproductive health rights.
  • Canada makes an increased, strategic contribution to global research efforts to develop treatments, technologies, vaccines, microbicides and prevention strategies.
  • Canada increases its research capacity to undertake culturally appropriate research to strengthen prevention and care in developing countries.

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5.1 Increase and maintain public awareness of the global HIV epidemic and Canada's responsibility to respond by developing a long-term communications strategy that:
  • communicates tested and consistent messages about the global epidemic
  • makes more effective use of World AIDS Day activities to draw attention to the global epidemic
  • uses mass media campaigns and press releases to sustain public interest throughout the year
  • engages high-profile Canadians to champion global efforts
  • engages local, provincial, territorial and national leaders/spokespeople, including youth leaders, union representatives and representatives of faith-based organizations, and ensures that they have the support/resources to fulfil their role
  • actively promotes the XVI International AIDS Conference in Toronto in 2006.

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International commitments

5.2 Fulfil Canada's international commitments by:
  • making an equitable contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in proportion to our share of the global economy, as measured by GNP
  • working toward an official development assistance target of 0.7% of GNP as soon as possible
  • further increasing our contribution to the 3 by 5 Initiative to increase access to antiretroviral treatments
  • involving the private sector and civil society more broadly in the global response
  • supporting, strengthening and empowering organizations/networks working in developing countries to address the HIV epidemic
  • reporting on our international commitments.
5.3 Establish coherent, consistent policies among federal departments and agencies -- including but not limited to Health Canada, Foreign Affairs Canada, International Trade Canada, Industry Canada, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Justice Canada, National Defence, Correctional Service Canada, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canadian International Development Agency and the Public Health Agency of Canada -- that reflect the social justice values of Leading Together, and develop a single Government of Canada plan to respond to the global epidemic.
5.4 Make strategic use of Canadian expertise in global efforts to respond to the epidemic, guided by the priorities of the countries we are trying to help.
5.5 Support efforts to ensure the sustainability of the global response to HIV/AIDS.

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Human rights

5.6 Integrate human rights, including the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health and the human rights of women, into Canada's international relationships by:
  • strengthening and enforcing human rights agreements
  • supporting the work of the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health and the follow-up work stemming from it, along with other mechanisms that contribute to realizing the right to health, the International Labour Organization standards on workers and health, and the International Guidelines on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights, and other international guidelines on health and human rights
  • supporting global efforts to eliminate HIV/AIDS-related discrimination and to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of people living with HIV/AIDS and of individuals and groups vulnerable to discrimination and marginalization
  • supporting global efforts to reduce gender-based discrimination and promote gender equality
  • supporting efforts to promote and protect sexual and reproductive health and rights and to effectively integrate such efforts with HIV/AIDS
  • supporting HIV prevention options that can be controlled by women (e.g., microbicides)
  • considering implications for access to HIV prevention, care and treatment when renewing existing and/or developing new trade and investment agreements
  • complying with international guidelines for conducting health research
  • ensuring that Canadian companies and organizations operating abroad have policies onHIV/AIDS in the workplace that meet or exceed the standard of the International Labour Organization.

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Research and expertise

5.7 Participate in global research efforts to develop HIV/AIDS treatments, technologies, vaccines, microbicides and prevention strategies and to identify effective ways to provide care within existing health systems.

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House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs. HIV/AIDS and the Humanitarian Catastrophe in Sub-Saharan Africa. Canada. 2003.

Global Treatment Access Group. Global Health is a Human Right! A Civil Society Common Platform for Action on HIV/AIDS and Global Health. May 2003.

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