UNAIDS and OHCHR Co-Hosted the Human Rights Council Social Forum

UNAIDS and OHCHR Co-Hosted the Human Rights Council Social Forum

The 2017 session of the Human Rights Council Social Forum took place in Geneva from 2 – 4 October. The event, co-hosted by UNAIDS and OHCHR, and co-chaired by the Governments of Brazil and Belarus, focused on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of HIV and other communicable diseases and epidemics (agreed upon in Human Rights Council resolution 32/27).

UNAIDS’ mission of helping people enjoy the right to social protection across their life cycle, independent of the HIV benefits of social protection, is essential to attaining the goal of ending AIDS. In this context, the Social Forum provides a space for open and constructive dialogue between member States, civil society, intergovernmental organizations and other stakeholders on issues linked to promoting a national and international environment for the enjoyment of all human rights by all.

Over the course of the three day event, experts discussed topics including:

  • implementing health-related SDGs using a human rights-based approach;
  • discrimination and the realization of the right to health;
  • civil society’s role in the context of epidemics;
  • community-led health programmes;
  • health care workers on the frontline;
  • engaging diverse partners;
  • international cooperation for global responses and national implementation; and
  • access to medicines, diagnosis, vaccines and treatment in the context of the right to health.

The Forum was opened by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, along with the co-chairs and the President of the Human Rights Council, Ambassador Maza Martelli of the Permanent Mission of El Salvador. UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé and Dr. Tedros Adhanom, Director-General of the World Health Organization, were among the high-level UN representatives who gave keynote speeches.

On the final day of the Forum, a session was devoted to identifying ways forward in promoting and protecting human rights in the context of HIV, malaria, Zika, Ebola, hepatitis, tuberculosis and other communicable diseases, and formulating recommendations (which will subsequently be included in a report to be submitted to the Human Rights Council).

Overall, the event included over 40 speakers from around the world; including heads of international organizations, experts, activists, affected populations, members of academia, lawyers, government representatives, private sector leaders and other stakeholders.

The event also provided an opportunity for UNAIDS to launch a new report, Confronting Discrimination: overcoming HIV-related stigma and discrimination in health-care settings and beyond. This report compiles evidence and highlights best practices on confronting stigma and discrimination to ensure access to health services.

All sessions were broadcast and are now available to view in the WebTV archive. A Facebook Live video with Christine Stegling from the International HIV/AIDS Alliance and Kene Esom, from the AMSHeR Board is also accessible here.

Read more about UNAIDS’ work in championing health and human rights in their Feature Stories series.


Photo credit: UNAIDS.


Social Protection and Human Rights