United Nations General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS



Policy Advocacy & Communications

2001. The UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS (UNGASS) was convened in 2001, followed by annual progress meetings and culminating in a 5-year review in 2006.  It was the first time in the UN’s history that the G.A. held a special session on a disease, but in 2001 the AIDS epidemic had reached crisis proportions and demanded a concerted global response.   Working with my client, the International Council of AIDS Service Organizations (ICASO), the voice of community-based organizations wielded significant power in the drafting of the original Declaration of Commitment and its subsequent reviews.  ICASO ensured that the most marginalized groups had a voice in the drafting and reporting processes.  My job was analyzing policy recommendations and drafting feedback from the ICASO constituency, speechwriting for civil society leaders, drafting press releases, and seeking opportunities to influence policy documents in the UN corridors.  A career highlight was the opportunity to draft a speech for ICASO's Executive Director which he made on the floor of the General Assembly; it was the first time in the UN's history that the terms "sex worker," "injection drug users," and "men who have sex with men" were heard in that august body.