Resolution unanimously adopted by the 99th Inter-Parliamentary Conference
(Windhoek, 10 April 1998)

The 99th Inter-Parliamentary Conference,

Recalling the previous resolutions of the Inter-Parliamentary Union concerning HIV/AIDS, particularly that of the 87th Conference (Yaoundé, April 1992),

Concerned by the speed at which the HIV/AIDS epidemic is spreading throughout the world, particularly among women and children,

Noting the growing awareness of the seriousness of AIDS as a disease to which anyone can be exposed, regardless of ethnic origin, age group, geographical situation and level of economic or social well-being,

Emphasising the harmful impact of AIDS on society, economies and development, which jeopardises world economic growth and threatens political and social stability,

Acknowledging that balancing the rights and responsibilities of a broad spectrum of people is a formidable but necessary legislative task of parliaments,

Mindful that women and children as well as groups which are underprivileged socially and economically or in terms of the law, and those with no legal status, are less aware and therefore more vulnerable to the risks of infection from HIV/AIDS because they may be barred from full access to education, health care, social services and other means of prevention and control, and acknowledging that they suffer disproportionately from the economic and social consequences of the HIV/AIDS epidemic,

Convinced that both authorities and society as a whole must spare no effort to prevent and contain the spread of HIV/AIDS and ease the impact of this pandemic on respect for human rights and civil liberties,

Deeply concerned by the ever-widening gap between developed and developing countries in terms of possibilities for screening, identifying, monitoring, treating and ensuring the social integration of people with AIDS, which is the more serious as the great majority of those affected live in developing countries,

Reminding States of the commitments they have undertaken to promote and encourage respect for human rights in instruments such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Charter, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as the conventions of the International Labour Organisation, the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, the Beijing Declaration, resolutions 1994/24 and 1997/52 of the UN Economic and Social Council, the Cairo Programme of Action, the Declaration of the Paris Summit of 1 December 1994, the G­7 Development Ministers, Joint Declaration of 1 December 1997 and the resolution of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Organisation (AIPO) on the Maintenance of Health and Prevention of the Spread of HIV/AIDS adopted at the 18th General Assembly of AIPO in Bali, Indonesia, in September 1997,

Recognising that HIV/AIDS spreads beyond borders and must accordingly be fought through joint action by the international community and international organisations, especially UNAIDS and its co-sponsors (UNICEF, UNDP, UNFPA, UNESCO, WHO, World Bank),

Reaffirming the principles set out in the World AIDS Strategy adopted by WHO and endorsed by the UN General Assembly, the main goals of which are as follows:

(a) Preventing HIV infection;

(b) Reducing the effects of infection on individuals and society;

(c) Mobilising and combining national and international efforts to combat AIDS,

Convinced of the need to act on a global scale to ensure that despite overstretched public budgets, no effort is spared to reduce the number of new cases of HIV/AIDS,

Recalling that adopting legislation on the rights and obligations of persons is one of the primary duties of parliaments,

1. Urges parliamentarians to evaluate properly the growing impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic on world economic development and on social and political stability, and to become aware of the resulting daily violations of the inalienable rights of individuals;

2. Urges governments and NGOs to adopt a long-term, timely, coherent and integrated AIDS prevention policy with public information and education programmes which are specifically tailored to the needs of the various target groups and take account of cultural and religious sensitivities, and thus provide universally accessible information about the various routes of HIV transmission and highlight ways of avoiding or at least reducing the risk of infection;

3. Calls on the more prosperous countries, in accordance with the principle of international solidarity, to help less developed countries, to take on appropriate additional burdens and to offer financial assistance and technical and social support;

4. Also calls on governments, scientific organisations and the pharmaceutical industry to co-operate in funding and reinforcing AIDS vaccine research, as proposed by the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, and invites the pharmaceutical industry in particular to invest massively in such research;

5. Calls for negotiations between wealthy and poorer countries to devise ways of enabling every person living with HIV/AIDS to benefit from the best treatments possible in light of current medical knowledge;

6. Calls on developed countries, as well as international organisations and financial institutions, to earmark part of their development assistance to support national AIDS programmes in the developing world;

7. Urges governments to ensure the protection of human rights by putting into practice the guidelines adopted by the Second International Consultation on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights (September 1996). Special consideration should be given to the following:

(a) Review and reform existing public health laws so as to ensure that they address the issues raised by HIV/AIDS and comply with international human rights obligations (protection of privacy, confidentiality, liberty and security of the person), and that the provisions applicable to other transmissible diseases are not implemented in an inappropriate manner;

(b) Review and reform penal legislation and prison systems so as to ensure that they comply with international obligations for the protection of human rights, especially as regards HIV/AIDS;

(c) Adopt legislation ensuring that the human rights of persons infected or affected by HIV/AIDS are respected, banning all forms of discrimination against them, and establishing their right to education, work, housing and social services;

(d) Ensure respect for privacy, confidentiality and ethics in scientific research on human beings (informed consent, education and respect of subjects);

(e) See to it that public institutions and the private sector establish rules concerning HIV/AIDS which translate human rights principles into codes of professional responsibility and practice, and introduce monitoring mechanisms to ensure that they are properly applied;

8. Calls on parliamentarians to encourage the involvement of all sectors of society by promoting inter-agency and multisectoral co-operation, including public-private sector partnerships as an effective means to respond to the pandemic;

9. Urges parliamentarians to intensify their legislative, budgetary and oversight functions in all areas of activity relevant to HIV/AIDS prevention and control;

10. Requests UNAIDS, in co-operation with the IPU Secretariat, to consult IPU member parliaments in finalising the draft Handbook on HIV/AIDS, law and human rights, and to disseminate it as a reference tool for the establishment of legal standards, with progress to be reported at the next IPU Conference in Moscow;

11. Urges legislators to ensure that HIV/AIDS is addressed at all times through a partnership approach which involves the widest possible range of concerned stakeholders, including people living with AIDS, as well as the community, in decision-making processes and which provides for the sharing and dissemination of all relevant information on policies and medical and social issues;

12. Calls on governments to remove possible routes of transmission within health services, by using only blood and blood products which are guaranteed free of infection, utilising disposable hypodermic needles and ensuring strict compliance with all other hygiene regulations, including establishing needle and syringe exchange programmes, and urges the developed countries to provide material and technical support to the developing countries in this respect;

13. Calls for the establishment, in IPU member parliaments, of non-partisan parliamentary groups on HIV/AIDS to ensure ongoing dialogue, briefings and debate as well as training activities in order to deepen the understanding of the pandemic and to promote a consensus on national AIDS policy.

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