The protection of human rights in the context of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)

Commission on Human Rights resolution 1996/43


The Commission on Human Rights,

Recognizing that the increasing challenges presented by HIV/AIDS require intensified efforts to ensure universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, as well as the avoidance of HIV/AIDS-related discrimination and stigma,

Recalling its resolution 1995/44 of 3 March 1995 and other relevant resolutions and decisions adopted by organizations of the United Nations system, as well as by other competent forums,

Welcoming the Final Declaration of the Paris AIDS Summit, of 1 December 1994, the Cairo Programme of Action (A/CONF.171/13), the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action (A/CONF.166/9), the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (A/CONF.177/20) and the New Delhi Declaration and Action Plan on HIV/AIDS: Law and Humanity, of 10 December 1995, in all of which the pledge was made to promote and protect the rights of people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS,

Welcoming also the establishment of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS),

Acknowledging the significant role of UNAIDS and other bodies of the United Nations system, and of national and international non-governmental organizations, in particular organizations of people living with HIV/AIDS, in fighting discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS,

Concerned that lack of full enjoyment of their fundamental rights by persons suffering from economic, social or legal disadvantage heightens their vulnerability to the risk of HIV infection and to its impact, if infected,

Concerned also that people living with HIV/AIDS, as well as those presumed to be infected, continue to be discriminated against in law, policy and practice,

Bearing in mind that, as recognized by the World Health Assembly in its resolution WHA45.35 of 14 May 1992, there is no public health rationale for any measures that limit arbitrarily the rights of the individual, notably measures establishing mandatory screening,

Concerned that HIV/AIDS-related human rights issues are still not being adequately addressed by United Nations human rights bodies and human rights non-governmental organizations,

Emphasizing the responsibility of Governments to take measures to counter stigmatization of and discrimination against those affected by HIV/AIDS, and their commitment to strengthen national and international mechanisms that are concerned with HIV/AIDS-related human rights and ethics,

Recognizing that HIV transmission can be prevented through informed and responsible behaviour, and emphasizing the role and responsibility of individuals, groups and organs of society aimed at promoting, in a spirit of human solidarity and tolerance, a social environment supportive of the effective prevention and eradication of the root causes of the HIV/AIDS pandemic,

Welcoming the report of the Secretary-General on human rights and HIV/AIDS (E/CN.4/1996/44), which addresses the development of a human rights component within UNAIDS, ways to keep under review the protection of human rights and prevention of discrimination in the context of HIV/AIDS, and on the elaboration of guidelines for States on the protection and promotion of fundamental human rights and freedoms in the context of HIV/AIDS,

1. Confirms that discrimination on the basis of AIDS or HIV status, actual or presumed, is prohibited by existing international human rights standards, and that the term "or other status" in non-discrimination provisions in international human rights texts should be interpreted to cover health status, including HIV/AIDS;

2. Calls upon all States to ensure, where necessary, that their laws, policies and practices, including those introduced in the context of HIV/AIDS, respect human rights standards, prohibit HIV/AIDS-related discrimination and do not have the effect of inhibiting programmes for the prevention of HIV/AIDS and for the care of persons infected with HIV, in particular with respect to women, children and vulnerable groups;

3. Also calls upon all States to take all the necessary steps, including appropriate and speedy redress procedures and the introduction of protective legislation and appropriate education to combat discrimination, prejudice and stigma, to ensure the full enjoyment of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights by people living with HIV/AIDS, their families and associates, and people presumed to be at risk of infection, with particular attention to women, children and vulnerable groups;

4. Invites States to involve non-governmental and community-based organizations and people living with HIV/AIDS in the formulation and implementation of public policies, including the support of participatory programmes for prevention, care and social support among vulnerable and marginalized populations;

5. Calls upon States to take all necessary steps, in particular appropriate education and information for all individuals, including children and adolescents, to facilitate informed and responsible behaviour;

6. Recognizes the need to protect women and children from sexual abuse, violence and discrimination, and calls upon the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Commission on the Status of Women and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women to address those aspects of discrimination and violence against women and children which increase their vulnerability to infection and to the impact of HIV/AIDS;

7. Urges all United Nations human rights bodies, including treaty bodies, special rapporteurs and representatives of working groups of the Commission, to keep under review the protection of HIV-related human rights in relation to their respective mandates, as recommended in the Secretary-General's report, and, where relevant, to give full attention to monitoring States parties' compliance with their human rights commitments to reduce vulnerability to HIV/AIDS and to protect the rights of people affected by HIV/AIDS;

8. Calls upon relevant professional bodies to re-examine their codes of professional practice with a view to strengthening respect for human rights and dignity in the context of HIV/AIDS, and calls upon the relevant authorities to develop training in this regard;

9. Urges UNAIDS to continue the process of incorporating a strong human rights component in all its activities and to establish with the Centre for Human Rights a framework for close and ongoing cooperation;

10. Requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to continue his efforts, in cooperation with UNAIDS and non-governmental organizations, as well as groups of people living with HIV/AIDS, towards the elaboration of guidelines on promoting and protecting respect for human rights in the context of HIV/AIDS, to ensure sufficient support, from within existing resources, to the Centre for Human Rights to address HIV/AIDS-related issues and to incorporate these, as appropriate, in all the Centre's activities;

11. Requests the Secretary-General to prepare for the consideration of the Commission at its fifty-third session a final report on the above-mentioned guidelines, including the outcome of the second expert consultation on human rights and AIDS, and on their international dissemination.

52nd meeting, 19 April 1996
[Adopted without a vote]


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