Monday, 10 August, 2009

Youth Statement at 9th ICAAP

Bali Youth Force

Bali Youth Force is an integrated alliance of local and international youth organizations and young people from Asia and the Pacific coming together to collectively advocate for the rights of Young People at the 9th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific. It is a united team of a diverse region.

The following recommendations are a compilation of the outcome of a month long online consultation with more than 50 Young people across Asia and the Pacific, as well as the experiences and inputs of over 130 youth delegates at the two day Youth Pre Congress.

1. Achieve meaningful youth participation

All young people have the right to meaningfully participate in programmes and policy making processes that affect their lives. Several international documents such as the UNGASS Declaration of Commitment on HIV and AIDS, Convention on the Rights of the Child, the International Conference on Population and Development Program of Action, the Beijing Platform for Action as well as the Millennium Development Goals recognize and endorse this. Our governments have committed to implement the provisions in these documents.

Decision-makers must:

· Institutionalize youth-adult partnerships[1] in all local, national and international processes

· Ensure democratic processes for youth participation to have leadership role in developing, implementing and monitoring programmes and policies

· Ensure capacity-building for young people to access and engage effectively with policy processes

2. Strengthen financial commitments for youth-led and youth-serving initiatives

Youth-led organizations and groups have demonstrated a positive impact at international, national and local levels in responding to HIV and AIDS. Governments and donors must:

· Increase long-term funding for youth-led and youth-run initiatives

· Ensure adequate resources for operational and programme costs for sustainability

· Ensure youth access to existing funding mechanisms, making them youth-friendly

3. Mainstream Human Rights in the HIV and AIDS response for ALL young people

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that all people have the fundamental right to life, health, livelihood and dignity. These rights need to be respected, protected and fulfilled for all young people, including but not limited to:

· Girls and young women

· Orphans, street children and other vulnerable young people

· Young people who inject or use drugs

· Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer young people

· Young sex workers

· Young people in juvenile homes and prisons

· Young people living or born with HIV

· Young people living with disability

Human Rights Principles must be applied to all components of the HIV response from prevention and testing to treatment, care and support for all young people without discrimination.

4. Fulfill young people’s sexual and reproductive rights

Governments must respect, protect and fulfill young people’s sexual and reproductive rights, including but not limited to:

· The right to comprehensive sexuality education[2] which enables young people to make informed decisions about their lives

· The right to comprehensive and youth-friendly[3] sexual and reproductive health services, especially condoms, contraceptives, safe abortion, emergency contraception, management / treatment for sexually transmitted infections, voluntary counseling and testing for HIV

· The right to express and enjoy their sexuality[4]

5. Eliminate stigma and discrimination against young people (esp. marginalized young people)

Stigma is an obstacle for effective HIV prevention, testing, treatment, care and support for all young people. Universal access cannot be achieved without eliminating stigma and taking affirmative action. Young people living with HIV and other young people from key populations[5] face layered stigma, thus increasing vulnerability. Governments and decision-makers must:

· Develop , enforce and monitor comprehensive anti-discriminatory laws and policies in partnership with communities

· Ensure adequate capacity-building and earmarked funding within all programmes for addressing stigma and discrimination

[1] Youth-adult partnership are those where responsibility is shared with all partners – adults and young people

[2] A rights-based approach to Comprehensive Sexuality Education seeks to equip children and young people with the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values they need to determine and enjoy their sexuality – physically and emotionally, individually and in relationships. (IPPF Framework of Comprehensive Sexuality Education)

[3] Youth friendly service delivery is about providing services based on a comprehensive understanding of what young people in that particular society or community want, rather than being based only on what providers believe they need. (Provide: Strengthening youth-friendly services, IPPF)

[4] Sexuality is a central aspect of being human throughout life and encompasses sex, gender identities and roles, sexual orientation, eroticism, pleasure, intimacy and reproduction. (WHO)

[5] Key populations are those where risk and vulnerability converge. HIV epidemics can be limited by concentrating prevention efforts among key populations. The concept of key populations also recognizes that they can play a key role in responding to HIV/AIDS. (A Framework for Priority Linkages, WHO, UNFPA, IPPF & UNAIDS)

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