Ludo Bok Speech at Workshop to Introduce the VNP+ Action Plan 2008-2010

21 Nov 2008 – Good afternoon and thank you for giving me the opportunity to give a few brief remarks on behalf of UNAIDS. 

First, I would like to congratulate the members of VNP Plus. I cannot tell you how pleased we are at UNAIDS to watch your efforts and expertise expanding and to see you becoming a real force in the national response. Good afternoon and thank you for giving me the opportunity to give a few brief remarks on behalf of UNAIDS. 

First, I would like to congratulate the members of VNP Plus. I cannot tell you how pleased we are at UNAIDS to watch your efforts and expertise expanding and to see you becoming a real force in the national response. 

International experience shows that no response to HIV can be successful without the full participation of affected populations. Effective leadership begins at the grassroots and pushes up. One of the priorities of UNAIDS’ work is to advocate for GIPA. We give on-going support and technical assistance to the GIPA project, the Empathy Club network, the TWG and GIPA subgroup, in addition to advocating for a larger civil society role in the Global Fund and UNGASS processes. We hope to continue working in partnership with you and stand ready to offer whatever support we can. 

As you know, Viet Nam is now in the middle of National AIDS Action Month. The slogan for this month – ‘lead, empower, deliver’ – captures the essence of what VNP Plus and its partners are doing: building leadership through advocacy, empowering through capacity building, and delivering on promises by improving coordination. 

I would like to emphasise, as we negotiate the tricky path to legalisation, that this participation has not just a practical, but also a legal basis here in Viet Nam.

The Constitution of Viet Nam guarantees the rights of the people to assemble and form associations. The Law on Associations, still in its draft form, affirms this right and goes further, outlining the criteria that associations must meet in order to be recognised by the Government.

Viet Nam is also party to the legally binding International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which assures the right of freedom of association (Article 22), and the ASEAN Charter, which includes as its basic principles ‘the respect for fundamental freedoms, the promotion and protection of human rights, and the promotion of social justice.’

VNP Plus has a major role to play in safeguarding the rights of people living with HIV. I encourage you to continue leading, to seek greater empowerment and to push all stakeholders to deliver on their promises. Legalization and increasing coordination are key. UNAIDS has made a legal consultant available to help you through the legalization process, and we will continue to support training workshops, advocacy efforts and so forth to make this a reality. 

I am confident that by working in partnership – civil society, Government, mass organizations, the Party and the international community – we can overcome the challenges facing us and realize Millennium Development Goal No.6, to halt and begin to reverse the spread of HIV by 2015. 

Thank you for your kind attention. I am looking forward to a productive and successful workshop.

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