In June 2021, the United Nations General Assembly met for its fourth high-level meeting (HLM) on AIDS to review five years of both success and failure since its previous meeting and set the course of the global response to HIV for the next five years. Departing from precedents and settled positions of previous HLMs and other meetings of the General Assembly, a small group of countries sought to remove language on rights, decriminalisation and harm reduction from the draft Political Declaration. Although the attempt was unsuccessful, this experience is emblematic of a larger threat posed by a revisionist strategy for subverting the rights-affirming and evidence-based foundations of the global HIV response.
The HIV Policy Lab developed the prototype of this Compendium during the 2021 HLM. Its extension at the initiative of GNP+ and Aidsfonds, the NGO co-conveners for the HLM, is a testament to its contribution during that meeting and need for more resources to support Member States in strategising, coordinating and advancing the defence and expansion of our global commitments in favour of rights-based responses to HIV and related sexual and reproductive health challenges. The Compendium aims to hold nations accountable for their past commitments and assist delegations, civil society and others in framing arguments for protecting and advancing rights-affirming and evidence-based language.
The HIV Language Compendium meets this need by providing a curated compilation of internationally agreed upon language that provides precedents for the use, proper interpretation and significance of concepts and terms crucial for an evidence-based and rights-affirming response to HIV. The Compendium is a highly practical resource for those in the centre and on the sidelines of multilateral negotiations including diplomats, international civil servants, leaders from affected communities, and civil society advocates. By establishing the language that member states have already been agreed to within the United Nations system, the Compendium will compose both a bulwark against efforts to reverse the tide of progress and a beachhead for advancing the international consensus on sexual and reproductive health rights.
The Compendium is founded on research and analysis on Member State agreement on the use of key language in meetings of the General Assembly and other UN organs and governance bodies as well as in the human rights system and the official publications of UN secretariats. These selections are categorised by topic (e.g., gender equality), source type (e.g., intergovernmental evidence), and utility (i.e., as evidence or precedent). The first section, why language matters, goes into greater depth on the purpose and use of the Compendium as well as its underlying concepts and the methodology used in constructing it.
This Compendium will be extended iteratively to encompass more key language, evidence, and opposition language. If you have comments on its structure or suggestions for the content of the next edition of the Compendium, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
a note on this book
This book was designed using Matthew Butterick’s publishing system, Pollen. The font used throughout is his Heliotrope.