World leaders resisted setting exact financial targets for the fight against AIDS at a major conference, drawing criticism from activists who claimed they do not want to shoulder the financial burden of trying to stop the epidemic.
However, rights groups also said there were some gains from the conference that wrapped up on Friday, including a push for drug users to be given sterile injecting equipment and recognition that the fight against AIDS will require up to US$23 billion each year by 2010.
The meeting was meant to review efforts to fight AIDS and prepare national plans to fight the virus over the next 10 years. It came after a UN report said that 40 million people worldwide are living with HIV/AIDS, and 8,000 die every day from the virus.
"The epidemic continues to outpace us," UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said. "Last year, globally, there were more new infections than ever before, and more people died than ever before."
Overall, activists said the nonbinding final declaration was a missed opportunity, and 69 groups denounced it outright. They said it lacked the kind of bold, galvanizing proposals included in a plan of action that was agreed to at a similar conference in 2001.
The resistance to financial targets came mostly from the leading donor nations, including the US, the EU, Japan and Australia, who feared that if they set goals for AIDS funding, they would be the ones expected to bear the biggest burden.
They settled for a promise to set "ambitious national targets" this year so nations can achieve universal access to prevention, treatment, care and support by 2010. The world spent US$8.3 billion to fight AIDS last year.
Civil rights groups acknowledge that few of the earlier goals were met, but they said those targets provided a yardstick to measure the progress against AIDS.
"It's true, many of the targets that were set in 2001 weren't met, but that's also extremely important information [while doing] the post-mortem and examine why that was the case," said Asia Russell, director for international policy with the Philadelphia-based Health Global Access Program.
Some delegates had also hoped that after five years, world leaders would have been more open to specifically mentioning those most at risk to the virus, including prostitutes, gay men and intravenous drug users.
Instead, they stuck to the same language from 2001, only referring to "vulnerable groups."
"I wish we could have been a bit more frank in our document about telling the truth," said Britain's development secretary, Hilary Benn.
"Abstinence is fine for those who are able to abstain, but human beings like to have sex and they should not die because they do have sex," she said.
Still, the meeting was not the disaster some had feared. Early on in the negotiations, some Islamic countries had resisted even the reference to "vulnerable groups," and the US was opposed to any financial targets at all.
The atmosphere changed after government officials arrived from their countries and took over negotiations from UN diplomats based in New York. UN General Assembly President Jan Eliasson also intervened with a draft that he urged officials to live with.
Some civil rights groups pointed to language on young people, including "comprehensive, evidence based prevention strategies" and the use of condoms. Conservative nations had resisted efforts to deliver comprehensive sex education to children.
The push for education gained support from US first lady Laura Bush, who told the General Assembly that more people must understand how the deadly virus is transmitted.
She called on countries to improve literacy so their citizens can make better choices.
CAUTION: Taiwanese should be alert, even if they have just liked or shared posts that would breach Beijing’s national security legislation for Hong Kong, the council said Due to the newly implemented Hong Kong national security legislation, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) has drawn up a list of what it described as “high-risk groups,” cautioning them not to travel to Hong Kong. People who support independence for Taiwan, Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang; those who are critical of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the Hong Kong government and the “one country, two systems” concept; and those who donated to or voiced support for the Hong Kong anti-extradition bill movement are urged to refrain from visiting Hong Kong, the council said on its Web site. It released two posts on
HONG KONG SECURITY: The president blasted regulations requiring Taiwanese agents or political organizations to provide information on their Hong Kong-related activities President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday warned of countermeasures should controversial Chinese national security legislation imposed on Hong Kong undermine or harm Taiwanese interests. Article 43 of the legislation empowers the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to serve written notices to Taiwanese political organizations or individual agents to furnish information on their Hong Kong-related activities, including their personal particulars, finances, assets, expenditure and capital in the territory. Failure to comply or providing false or incomplete information can result in a fine of HK$100,000 (US$12,903) or imprisonment of six months or two years respectively. Tsai said that Taiwan would keep a close watch on how
NEW HONG KONG LAW: A visit to Beijing-friendly nations or those with weak judicial systems could leave people at risk of deportation to China, a former MAC official said Beijing could request countries with which it has extradition agreements to deport Taiwanese to China to face criminal charges following the implementation of national security legislation for Hong Kong, a former Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) official warned yesterday. Some developing countries, and those close to China because of the Belt and Road Initiative, are likely to accommodate Beijing’s requests to extradite Taiwanese to China, said former deputy MAC minister Chen Ming-chi (陳明祺), who served from July 2, 2018, until May 20, and then returned to his former post as an assistant professor of sociology at National Tsing Hua University. While Taiwanese
MORAL COURAGE: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs urged the global community to face China’s intention to subdue Taiwan and reject such irrational requests The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday strongly condemned the Chinese government for meddling with US officials’ interactions with Taiwan after FBI Director Christopher Wray revealed China’s efforts to discourage US officials from visiting Taiwan. The greatest long-term threat to the US’ information security and intellectual property, as well as its economic vitality, is China’s counterintelligence and economic espionage operations, Wray told a video event at the Hudson Institute in Washington. Beijing is engaged in a highly sophisticated and maligning foreign influence campaign, with methods that include bribery, blackmail and covert deals, he said. Giving an example, Wray said that when a US official