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Coalition of African Cities against Racism and Discrimination launched in Nairobi, Kenya  
Coalition of African Cities against Racism and Discrimination launched in Nairobi, Kenya
The regional African Coalition was launched in Nairobi, Kenya, on 20 September 2006, on the occasion of the 4th Africities Summit (18-24 September 2006). It is part of the International Coalition of Cities against Racism and Discrimination, launched by UNESCO.
Organized by the City of Nairobi and UNESCO, over 150 participants attended the launching event, including 54 Mayors/Vice-Mayors of cities. All of them praised the efforts put towards the launching of this Coalition. They stressed the need for all cities on the continent to join it and to incorporate in their municipal policies the ten commitments of the adopted Plan of Action. All 54 cities present, without exception, joined the Coalition. Representatives of civil society groups, of networks of cities against AIDS, and of other networks decided to join in as associated members.

Four cities were designated as "lead cities": Bamako (Mali) for West Africa, Durban for South Africa, Kigali (Rwanda) for Central Africa and Nairobi (Kenya) for East Africa.

The meeting enjoyed the presence of the former President of Benin, now Mayor of Cotonou, representatives of the City of London (UK), and members of the European Coalition. The event was widely covered in National media (TV, radio, newspapers).

The programme of the African Coalition of Cities against Racism and Discrimination addresses all forms of discrimination.

In this perspective, the African Coalition has put HIV related stigma and discrimination as a priority in its agenda.

HIV and AIDS are one of the biggest challenges that Africa is facing. The rate of infection is rapidly increasing and more and more people are getting ill and dying from AIDS. Although AIDS has become very common, it is surrounded by silence. People living with HIV and AIDS are exposed to daily prejudice born out of ignorance and fear.

The epidemic cannot be tackled unless the silence can be broken, and the stigma and discrimination that surround it be removed. The rights of people living with HIV and AIDS often are violated because of their presumed or known HIV status. This also contributes to the vulnerability of others to HIV infection, since HIV-related stigma and discrimination discourages individuals infected with and affected by HIV from contacting health and social services. The result is that those most needing information, education and counselling, will not benefit even where such services are available.

Women are most affected by this situation and face a double discrimination. HIV related stigma and discrimination build upon and reinforce existing negative stereotypes and preconceptions related to sexuality, gender, race and poverty.

During the launching of the Coalition, a thematic panel on HIV related stigma and discrimination, and local policies and initiatives to tackle this issue, was organised.

The panel addressed the importance of protection and promotion of human rights for an effective response to HIV and AIDS. It focused on the urbanization of AIDS and addressed HIV related stigma and discrimination as an epidemiological problem and municipal governance priority.

Some of the main recommendations for local policies were the following:
  • Protect and promote of human rights for an effective response to HIV and AIDS.
  • Address HIV related stigma and discrimination as a major management issue.
  • Promote sustainable HIV mainstreaming in local government departments.
  • Involve civil society, people living with HIV and AIDS, and all the main stakeholders, including business in local government initiatives.
  • Develop a specific action plan for which the municipality can be held accountable.
  • Include AIDS funding in poverty reduction strategies.
  • Promote prevention, treatment and care for groups most exposed to HIV and AIDS.
  • Adopt a human rights framework to justify:
    • a framework for accountability and action, and
    • access to procedural, institutional and other monitoring mechanisms for enforcing rights.
Cities and municipalities are well positioned to adopt key strategies in the development of a comprehensive response to HIV and AIDS. This is why an alliance of mayors and municipal leaders in Africa together with the United Nations Development Programme has developed the Alliance of Mayors and Municipal Leaders on HIV/AIDS in Africa (AMICAALL).

The UN-AMICAALL Partnership Programme collaborated with UNESCO for the organization of the above mentioned panel. And UNESCO wishes to explore and share future collaboration opportunities with the AMICAALL programme in the framework of its African Coalition of Cities against Racism and Discrimination which is being launched.

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