JIU/REP/2019/7 Review of the management and administration of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)

The present report contains the first review by JIU of the management and administration of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). UNAIDS, established by the Economic and Social Council in 1994 as a joint and co-sponsored programme, serves as the primary entity responsible for stimulating and coordinating global efforts to end AIDS. UNAIDS is governed by the Programme Coordinating Board. The secretariat of UNAIDS is responsible for facilitation and coordination of the HIV/AIDS response and is led by the Executive Director.

The review focused on: (a) strategic and operational planning; (b) governance; (c) oversight and accountability; and (d) human resources management and administrative services. The review made eight formal recommendations, three addressed to the Board and five to the Executive Director, as well as 25 informal recommendations that are suggestions for improvement.

The JIU concluded that a new long-term strategy was necessary for UNAIDS, which should reflect a structural analysis and an inclusive approach on how UNAIDS would meet its commitments regarding the 2030 Agenda. Governance of UNAIDS and its secretariat – specifically regarding oversight and accountability – must be strengthened to bring UNAIDS into alignment with other United Nations system organizations and avoid reputational and financial setbacks.

The gaps in oversight and accountability must be addressed by reassessing critical functions such as audit and ethics, establishing a disciplined approach towards oversight reports, and fully exercising the Board’s role in the oversight and accountability of UNAIDS and its secretariat. The secretariat needs a more comprehensive strategy on human resources management that reflects the strategic direction of UNAIDS and is supported by consistent and transparent processes and procedures. While the joint and co-sponsored model of UNAIDS is unique and can offer valuable lessons for the United Nations reform, the gaps in governance, oversight and accountability that have generated several recommendations from different independent review bodies should be catalogued and addressed in a transparent way.

The UNAIDS management provided a response to the report in which they indicated that UNAIDS was committed to the implementation of those recommendations as well as regular and transparent reporting on progress. Final and formal acceptance of the recommendations is in the purview of the Programme Coordinating Board.

The report will be presented to the Programme Coordinating Board at its 45th meeting in December 2019.