The Community Forum (CF) historically convened by the Coalition of Asia Pacific Regional Networks on AIDS (7S) as part of the pre-ICAAP program will take place 7-9 August 2009 during the 9th ICAAP at Bali International Convention Center (BICC) in Nusa Dua, Bali.
Expanded for the first time to three days instead of one, the CF will be the culmination of numerous in-country as well as international consultation and preparation processes. The CF will consist of seven individual day-long forums designed to reflect the main concerns of the community and organized by a respective Sub-Committee of the 9th ICAAP’s Local Organizing Committee (LOC) along with an International counterpart.
About 600 Civil Society (CS) representatives from the AP region along with some pre-identified experts, donors, other stakeholders, and human rights activists are expected to participate. The sessions will include plenary presentations and discussions, as well as breakouts and other activities deemed appropriate by the respective organizers. The CF will end on 9 August when all the groups come together to share the outcomes of their respective forums.
Participation in the Community Forum Plenary is free for registered congress delegates. Selected number non-congress delegates may attend the forum by invitations only.
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Towards A More Effective Response
In an effort to ensure cohesion of the various forums the LOC, International Advisory Committee (IAC) and community co-chair The Coalition (7S) has agreed that the 9th ICAAP CF will be focused on the recommendations from the Commission on AIDS in Asia (CAA) report (March 2008), where communities using the CAA’s report as a programmatic framework can develop strategies and key messages on how best to support the community sector’s role in the AIDS response and agreements on specific actions to lead the way forward with steps and priorities from the KAP perspective to implement the CAA recommendations and develop key advocacy messages and strategies that would then run as an overarching theme through the various streams of the ICAAP.
The inputs from Civil Society to the CAA’s report was completed at the 8th ICAAP in Sri Lanka, when Health & Development Networks (HDN) conducted qualitative interviews with almost 100 key informants, after an initial online consultation where over 600 civil society representatives participated. This focus would help sustain the momentum of the CAA, provide a level of continuity to the previous ICAAP and move these KAPS and CF participants Towards a More Effective Response to HIV/AIDS. .
The CF will bring together key populations currently identified and including but not limited to the following Key Affected Populations (KAPS): PLHIV, Sex Workers; gay men, transgender, and other Men who have Sex with Men; people who use drugs; women; youth; indigenous peoples; as well as Inter-faith, Migrant and Mobile Populations. These key recommendations from the KAPS led discussions will form an integral part The Coalition (7S) programming and advocacy efforts for the next year and serve as a platform that all Regional and National Networks can use to coordinate action and maximize resources.
About Community Forum
The Community Forum was borne at the third ICAAP in Chiang Mai (1995). Subsequent ICAAPs have seen the Community Forum meeting strengthened and finally managed by the Coalition of Asia Pacific Regional Networks, also known as the 7 Sisters Coalition at the Melbourne (2001), Kobe (2005) and Colombo (2007) congresses. On each occasion local communities have worked with the 7 Sisters to ensure local people have access to the discussions as well as those from across the region.
The objectives of the Community Forum are to bring communities together as well as to identify and exchange views on key and emerging issues of concern. More specifically it aims to strengthen networks among members of civil society organisations and community groups, to share knowledge, experiences and skills among delegates from same or different groups in the community and discuss better ways for programs in the future, to ensure that people’s voices, needs and issues are being heard in the Congress and be followed up after the Congress, to provide comprehensive recommendation for NGOs, governmental organisations and United Nations agencies to achieve better partnership and better responses, provide opportunities for communities members to review and renew their commitments, to learn and be empowered either through skills building trainings or from each other’s diversity and similarity, and to ensure good link between issues being discussed in the Scientific Programs and the Community Forum programs.
Due to the further complexity of HIV and AIDS issues and the alarming accelerated numbers of new HIV cases in Asia and the Pacific, besides the PLHIV and Youth groups, other community groups not formally attached to the Congress (i.e. Interfaith) had a pre-congress meeting in the 8th ICAAP. Other groups (LGBTIQ & sex workers and IDUs) also gathered at the Community Forum meeting to ensure common understanding and prepare community statements that would be voiced at the opening ceremony.
In this 9th ICAAP, there will be more community forums prior to the Congress, namely PLHIV, Youth, IDUs, Interfaith, Women, LGBTIQ, Sex Workers, and possibly others, as needed. Some forums may vary in length of days and number of sessions. Communities will then all gather together on 9th August 2009 morning to consolidate results of their meetings and prepare a Community Statement to be announced at the opening ceremony on the same day.
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