14th Francophonie Summit: Shared Responsibility and Global Solidarity on the Agenda of UNAIDS and Heads of State

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14th Francophonie Summit: Shared Responsibility and Global Solidarity on the Agenda of UNAIDS and Heads of State

13 October 2012

François Hollande at the opening ceremony (Joseph Moura/OIF)

At the opening of the XIV Francophonie Summit, held from 12 to 14 October 2012 in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, French President François Hollande confirmed the commitment of France to continue the development of innovative financing through taxes, like the tax on airline tickets, and those on financial transactions which are already in place. The President of France aims to increase the financial potential of these tools, and encouraged European countries to join these mechanisms, whose revenues are "directly allocated to the fight against AIDS," he said. This strong commitment to finance the AIDS response by President Hollande reflects the policy of "shared responsibility" advocated by UNAIDS, which calls on international donors, including members of the Francophonie, to honour their commitments.

The opening of the Summit also featured the establishment of a "Forum of Francophone Women", uniting more than 500 women in 2013. With this initiative, France emphasizes its commitment to the fight for violence against women, who are "the first victims of violence and war," according to President Hollande, and echoed the position of UNAIDS that ending violence against women is essential to reduce HIV transmission. Underscoring the unchangeable status of the Congolese borders and the need for peace in North and South Kivu, President Hollande stressed that any conflict is an obstacle to development and the advancement of health.

This view was also emphasized by Macky Sall, the President of Senegal, who highlighted the importance of peace and democracy in achieving the Millennium Development Goals 4, 5 and 6. Abdou Diouf, Secretary General of the International Organization of the Francophonie, also made a call to respect the choices made by citizens.

The speeches delivered by Heads of States at the opening echoed the key messages delivered on the eve of the Summit by Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS, when he launched the report "Decision Point La Francophonie: No New HIV Infections, No One Denied Treatment." Sidibé highlighted that Francophonie member states have made progress towards the goals of the UN 2011 Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS, but that "the access to HIV treatment in the Francophonie countries of sub-Saharan Africa (43%) is lower than among non-Francophonie countries in the same region (59%). "Innovation in the most advanced countries of the Francophonie should benefit the poor," he said, stressing that "Francophonie countries in sub-Saharan Africa should also increase the proportion of their investments in AIDS as a proportion of their economic growth and the burden of disease."

The concept of shared responsibility advanced in this report was reflected by President Hollande's commitment to innovative financing and by other initiatives highlighted by Michel Sidibé. Equatorial Guinea is now providing 100% of the funding to cover the cost of HIV treatment, Congo has committed to increase its domestic funding by 50%, and Burkina Faso has committed to double its investments in AIDS. During Michel Sidibé's meeting with Prime Minister Matata Poyo and Health Minister Felix Kabange Numbi of the Democratic Republic of Congo, they confirmed the commitment of President Kabila to reach an AIDS-free generation, and increase the government’s share of the national AIDS response from 3% to 6% in 2013.

UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé with Mr. Abdou Diouf, Secretary General of the Francophonie

Minister Yamina Benguigui, France's Minister for la Francophonie, who also participated in the launch of the report, noted that France's contribution to international AIDS response will not diminish. Minister Benguigui also highlighted the importance of collaboration with UNAIDS to develop programmes that will preserve the rights and dignity of women in the Global Forum of Francophone Women.

At the summit, UNAIDS opened its booth in the Francophonie Village, which featured information and documentation for Summit participants. The booth was visited by Abdou Diouf, Secretary General of the OIF, and Youssou N'Dour, Senegal's Minister of Culture, both accompanied by Michel Sidibé.

As host of the Summit, the city of Kinshasa launched a public campaign reflecting the theme "The Francophonie and an AIDS-free generation", which featured three messages: "One million people waiting for access to HIV treatment," "Elimination of HIV transmission from mother to child is possible," and "Shared Responsibility and Global Solidarity. " These key UNAIDS messages were on display during the opening ceremony of the Francophone Summit.