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Established in 1996, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) brings together several UN agencies around a single mandate to lead, strengthen, and support the global response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. It had been led by its founding executive director, Peter Piot, until December 2008. His departure, and the transition to the new executive director, Michel Sidibé, provides an opportunity to assess the effectiveness of UNAIDS and the best way forward.
The UNAIDS Leadership Transition Working Group was convened by the Center for Global Development and Oxford University’s Global Economic Governance Programme to make such an independent assessment. Sparked by the question of whether the world needs UNAIDS (an usual body focused on a single disease), the working group found strong rationale for the work of UNAIDS to continue but also significant room for improvement.
UNAIDS: Preparing for the Future argues that UNAIDS should focus its mission to press governments to uphold their existing commitments and take on new commitments to contain and treat AIDS that are grounded in scientific evidence and respect for human rights. The working group identifies seven actions and shifts in policy to help UNAIDS successfully reach a more focused goal:
Track government commitments and drive a long-term, strategic agenda on HIV/AIDS that includes strengthening health systems and building national self-sufficiency