Government delegates to the International AIDS Conference must show how their countries are taking action on the promises they made in June at the United Nations High Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

U.N. member states signed a declaration at the June 2 meeting recognizing that the protection and realization of human rights is essential in the global fight against AIDS. Governments promised to pursue all necessary efforts to move towards universal access to comprehensive prevention and treatment programs by 2010. They also pledged to set ambitious national targets for tracking the progress of their efforts in 2008 and 2010.

In its new report, "Compromised Intentions", Human Rights Watch examined how the declaration from the High-Level Meeting addressed such critical issues as women’s and children’s rights, abuses faced by socially marginalized populations, and access to treatment. The report found that while the declaration mentions human rights, it fell short of committing governments to aggressively responding to rights abuses and to implementing measures to guarantee the rights of socially marginalized and vulnerable populations.

“The U.N. meeting gave governments a global stage to make commitments in the fight against AIDS,” said Joe Amon, director of the HIV/AIDS program at Human Rights Watch. “Now in Toronto the world is watching again. Governments should take this opportunity to show that they’re taking steps to end the human rights violations that prevent prevention and treatment from reaching everyone.”

The 2006 High-Level Meeting was held to review progress made in the fight against AIDS since the historic 2001 U.N. General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS. At the June meeting, the United Nations noted the continued failures of countries to meet previous goals, including providing antiretroviral treatment to those who need it, reducing HIV transmission to infants, and increasing knowledge about HIV transmission.

In its report, Human Rights Watch also called on U.N. member states to fulfill the commitments made in June for the full participation of nongovernmental organizations in the global response to AIDS.

“The International AIDS Conference is a perfect opportunity for governments to work with nongovernmental groups towards implementing the pledges made at the U.N. meeting,” Amon said. “To succeed in the fight against AIDS, we need more than official declarations at High-Level meetings. Governments need to respect rights, set clear targets, and they need to take action now.”