University of Minnesota

The Dakar Declaration, adopted at the 4th Regional Conference/General Assembly of the Inter-African Committee (IAC), organised jointly by WHO and IAC (Dakar, 17-21 November 1997)

Recognizing the impact that the HIV epidemic is having on all aspects of human life;

Recognizing the need for an urgent response;

Recognizing that the fundamental value of respect for human rights, life and human dignity provides the foundation on which all is built,

We, the participants at the Intercountry Consultation of the African Network on Ethics, Law and HIV, affirm that any action, whether personal, institutional, professional or governmental, in response to the HIV epidemic, should be guided by the following principles:

the principle of responsibility: Every person, government, community, institution, private enterprise and medium must be aware of his or her responsibility and must exercise it in an active and sustainable manner.

the principle of engagement: Every person is affected, directly or indirectly, and therefore should respond with commitment, concern, courage and hope for the future.

the principle of partnership and consensus-building: All persons, couples, families, communities and nations must work together with compassion to build and share a common vision. These partnerships must reflect and actively promote solidarity, inclusion, integration, dialogue, participation and harmony.

the principle of empowerment: The empowerment of every person, but particularly women, the poor, the uneducated and children, is essential and must guide all action. Empowerment requires recognition of the right to knowledge, information and technology, freedom of choice and economic opportunity.

the principle of non-discrimination: Every person directly affected by the epidemic should remain an integral part of his or her community, with the right of equal access to work, housing, education and social services, with the right to marry, with freedom of movement, belief and association, with the right to counseling, care and treatment, justice and equality.

the principle of confidentiality and privacy: Every person directly affected by the epidemic has a right to confidentiality and privacy. It can only be breached in exceptional circumstances.

the principle of adaptation: Every person and community should change and adapt social and cultural conditions to the new challenges of the epidemic in order to respond effectively.

the principle of sensitivity in language: Language should uphold human dignity, reflect inclusion, be gender sensitive, accurate and understandable.

the principle of ethics in research: The interests of the research subjects or communities should be paramount. Research should be based on free and informed consent, be non-obtrusive and non-coercive, and the results should be made available to the community for timely and appropriate action.

the principle of prohibition of mandatory HIV testing: HIV testing without consent should be prohibited. HIV testing should also not be a pre-requisite for access to work, travel or other services.

This Declaration was drafted and endorsed by participants at the Intercountry Consultation of the African Network on Ethics, Law and HIV, organized in Dakar, Senegal, from 27 June to 1st July 1994, by the UNDP HIV and Development Programme (Dakar and New York). Participants came from Central African Republic, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, the WHO Global Programme on AIDS, the WHO Regional Office for Africa, the UNDP Management Development and Governance Division, the UNDP HIV and Development Project in Asia and the Pacific, the Asian and Latin American Networks on Law, Ethics and HIV, the African Council of AIDS Service Organizations (AFRICASO), the Association of African Jurists (AJA), ENDA Tiers Monde, the Network of African People Living with HIV/AIDS (NAP+), the Organisation Pan-Africaine de Lutte contre le SIDA (OPALS) and ORSTOM.


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