G8 Summit Sees ‘Little Progress’ in Boosting Contributions to International Effort To Combat HIV/AIDS
World leaders attending the G8 summit in Evian, France, which ends today, met yesterday with the leaders of 12 developing countries but made "little progress" in increasing contributions to the international effort to combat HIV/AIDS, the New York Times reports. However, French President Jacques Chirac announced an increase in France's contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Tagliabue, New York Times, 6/2). Chirac said he would increase France's contribution to the international fight against the pandemic three-fold to $179 million (Roth, Houston Chronicle, 6/1). Chirac, the host of the summit, also lauded President Bush's signing of the global AIDS bill (HR 1298) (Curl, Washington Times, 6/2). Bush last week signed into law a bill that authorizes $15 billion over five years to fight AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean. In addition, it authorizes up to $1 billion in fiscal year 2004 for the Global Fund, but the amount actually appropriated is contingent upon the contributions of other countries. Under the measure, the United States can contribute up to $1 billion to the fund but only if that amount totals no more than one-third of the fund's total contributions. Therefore, in order for the total $1 billion to be appropriated, other nations must contribute more money (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/30). Chirac said, "Bush took a decision in this area that I would not hesitate to call historic" (Washington Times, 6/2). Chirac said he hoped his announcement would be "followed by the other European countries and by the European Union," and he added that he would "press" the European Commission, the E.U.'s executive body, to release funds from the $10 billion European Development Fund to fight HIV/AIDS worldwide. Chirac said, "I have the impression that Europe will take up this challenge." Romano Prodi, president of the European Commission, said he supported a European contribution of $1 billion to the Global Fund to match the U.S. authorization (New York Times, 6/2). Chirac said at a news conference that a decision by all 15 E.U. members would have to wait until a meeting set for June 26 in Salonika, Greece (Miami Herald, 6/2).
Some advocates had expected Chirac to propose a matching commitment by the European Union, according to the New York Times. Jennifer Brant, a trade policy adviser for Oxfam America, said, "We hoped it would be a kind of contest. But it didn't pan out." U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said, "The time for additional funding has arrived," adding that he hoped G8 leaders "who played such an important role in getting the [Global Fund] up and running will now endow it with the further resources it needs to achieve our shared goals" (New York Times, 6/2). Jamie Drummond, a spokesperson for Debt, AIDS, Trade in Africa, said that Chirac's announcement is a ''crucial step'' in garnering matching funds from other European countries, adding, ''That's good news for Africa and the developing world" (Miami Herald, 6/2).