HIV and AIDS: Critical Enablers

These are activities UNODC considers critical in supporting the effectiveness and efficiency of its basic HIV programmes.

Engagement with civil society and community based organisations

Meaningful engagement with civil society organizations (CSOs) and community based organizations (CBOs) is fundamental for developing a robust HIV response. UNODC values the unique perspectives that CSOs and CBOs bring.

UNODC involves CSOs and CBOs in all aspects of its HIV response by ensuring their inclusion in nationally-led processes; involving them in addressing relevant policy, strategy, funding and programming issues related to the global HIV programme; providing them with access to capacity-building opportunities; and funding them to implement evidence-based HIV services.

UNODC acknowledges CSOs role as a source of strategic information on the epidemic among people who use drugs and is committed to disseminate community-led, evidence-informed, and human rights-based good practice examples.

Globally, UNODC supports over 300 CSOs every year. For greater cohesion and more effective collaboration, in February 2013, UNODC established the UNODC-CSO Group on Drug Use and HIV. The group is a platform for structured dialogue between UNODC and civil society and community based organizations.

Supportive legislative and law enforcement environment

There is increasing global recognition of the important role that national legislation and law enforcement have in protecting individuals and public health, especially among vulnerable communities. Engaging and sensitizing policy makers and law enforcement agencies on the essential role they play in the HIV response is an important part of UNODC's HIV programme.

Law enforcement officials have a significant role and responsibility to ensure uninterrupted access to essential HIV-related health and social services for vulnerable populations including people who use drugs and people in prisons. However, repressive law enforcement practices and punitive legal frameworks undermine access to HIV prevention and treatment services for these populations.

In the context of injecting drug use, law enforcement officials play a critical role of ensuring that people who inject drugs continue to access essential harm reduction and other health services. To ensure law enforcement bodies are knowledgeable, responsive and willing to become agents of change and cohesion in the community, UNODC supports police academies in the design, tailoring and delivery of training curriculum. With this knowledge they are better informed and equipped to grasp the unique opportunities their work presents to reach people who inject drugs and people in prisons.

Far too frequently, policy makers are unresponsive to the needs of prisoners, a situation exacerbated by inadequate participation of civil society groups and isolation of prison health services from general health services. To bolster their critical role, UNODC facilitates review and adaptation of national legislation and policies to ensure they are up-to-date with respect to scientific evidence on drug use, drug dependence and HIV and conform to international human rights obligations. UNODC conducts high-level advocacy with decision makers, policy makers and law enforcement agencies to create an enabling environment for harm reduction.

Law enforcement, criminal justice, public health and civil society can effectively complement each other's work. UNODC builds partnerships between police, HIV programmes and civil society organizations to provide harm reduction services in countries with concentrated epidemics among people who inject drugs. In 2013, UNODC organised a series of workshops for senior law enforcement officers and key civil society organisations, aiming to connect the main actors of the response in communities. The argument is simple: improved partnerships in the community can result in better access to harm reduction and HIV services for people who inject drugs, as well as decreases in crime and increases in community trust of the police.