Zambia highlights the need for a rights-based AIDS response

5 December 2018

Evidence shows that the protection, promotion and fulfilment of human rights are essential for a successful HIV response. National Human Rights Commissions have a key role to play, including empowering rights holders to claim their right to health.

UNAIDS co-convened a three-day workshop from 14–16 November 2018, in partnership with the Human Rights Commission in Zambia, aimed at realizing the right to health for all people who live in Zambia and integrating HIV and health-related human rights into their work. The commission has an important role in monitoring and reporting issues of social justice, including gender inequalities and sexual and gender-based violence.

Particularly the workshop sought to enhance the commission’s capacity to promote, protect and fulfil human rights and address the needs of people living with HIV, vulnerable groups and other key populations in the context of health.

The workshop was a direct follow up of the regional consultation of parliamentarians and national human rights institutions on realizing the right to heath and Ending AIDS, which was recently held in Nairobi, Kenya. 

Participants included Commissioners, staff of the Human Rights Commission in Zambia and civil society representatives. They agreed that, in order to leave no one behind, an inclusive and evidence-based approach is necessary within policy making and programming. A good example is the Zambian National AIDS Strategic Framework (NASF 2017–2021), which highlights the importance of reaching out and ensuring that all vulnerable and key populations have equal and equitable access to HIV services.

Participants at the workshop unanimously adopted a National Action Plan with a view to strengthen the commission’s capacity in realizing rights.


“Promoting human rights is not a choice, it’s an obligation. We are all humans, so it’s our core business.” 
Yuyo Kambikambi, Commissioner of the Human Rights Commission of Zambia

“Including HIV and sexual and reproductive health and rights in the work of the Human Rights Commission is paramount to ensure that development is inclusive and sustainable.”
Medhin Tsehaiu, UNAIDS Country Director, Zambia

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a great privilege it is to be alive… but can you really be aware of the privilege of being alive, if you are struggling to be recognized?”
Janet Rogan, UN Resident Coordinator