WHAT IS A UNITED NATIONS HIGH-LEVEL MEETING?
A United Nations High-Level Meeting (UN HLM) is convened by the UN General Assembly (UN GA), the main decision-making body of the UN representing all 193 UN Member States. In this forum, Member States discuss and work together on a wide array of international issues covered by the UN Charter, such as development, peace and security, international law, etc. Agreement to hold a dedicated UN HLM on a specialized topic is taken in exceptional circumstances through a UN resolution, with the purpose of reaching agreement on cooperation measures and solutions on important global issues among Heads of State and governments.
The UN HLM on TB will be the fifth time the UN has called for a high-level meeting devoted to a health issue, the first being the 2001 Special Session on HIV/AIDS, followed by UN HLMs on Non-Communicable Diseases, Ebola and Antimicrobial Resistance.
HOW WAS THE UN HLM ON UHC AGREED?
On 12 December 2017, the UN passed a resolution on global health and foreign policy: addressing the health of the most vulnerable for an inclusive society (A/RES/72/139). In this resolution, it was decided to hold a UN high-level meeting (UN HLM) during the 2019 UN General Assembly (UNGA) on universal health coverage (UHC). The modality resolution (A/RES/73/131), adopted by the General Assembly on 13 December 2018, revealed that the overall theme of the UN HLM will be “Universal Health Coverage: Moving together to build a healthier world”.
WHY IS THE UN HLM ON UHC IMPORTANT AND WHAT WILL IT ACHIEVE?
The UN High-Level Meeting is the biggest and best opportunity to secure political commitment from Heads of State and Government to prioritize universal health coverage (UHC). It will be the most significant political meeting held on UHC to date, and will result in a Political Declaration on UHC, negotiated by Member States and endorsed by Heads of State. The Political Declaration will form the basis for global efforts to provide universal access to affordable and quality health-care services, in line with SDG target 3.8.
As part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (A/RES/70/1), all countries have committed to try to achieve universal health coverage by 2030, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.
The political declaration should secure commitment from Heads of State and government for a coordinated global response, recognizing the primary responsibility governments to urgently and significantly scale up efforts to accelerate the transition towards UHC, and that effective and financially sustainable implementation of universal health coverage is based on a resilient and responsive health system.
WHERE AND WHEN WILL THE MEETING TAKE PLACE?
The meeting took place at UN Headquarters in New York on 23rd September 2019, the Monday before the opening of the UN General Debate. The plenary segment took place in the Trusteeship Council Chamber and began at 9:00 a.m. The multi-stakeholder panels took place in the ECOSOC Chamber and began at 11:00 a.m. with the opening and closing segments broadcast live.
WHAT ARE THE EXPECTED OUTCOMES OF THE UNHLM?
Through a one day high-level meeting and approval of the Political Declaration at the highest level, the UNHLM is an opportunity to build on previous high-level health meetings and initiatives and to reaffirm the global political commitment to achieving universal health coverage. This meeting will help to position the UHC agenda at the core of achieving SDG 3 and the broader Sustainable Development Goals.
WHAT IS THE OUTLINE FOR THE AGENDA FOR THE UN HLM?
The Modalities Resolution for the UN HLM on UHC outlines the agenda, which includes:
- Opening segment from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., in the Trusteeship Council Chamber, featuring statements by the 74th President of the General Assembly, the Secretary-General, the Director General of the World Health Organization, the President of the World Bank Group, and an eminent high-level champion of UHC
- Plenary segment from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., in the Trusteeship Council Chamber, where Heads of State will deliver their national statements,
- Multi-stakeholder panel 1: UHC as a driver of equity, inclusive development and prosperity for all from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., in the ECOSOC Chamber
- Multi-stakeholder panel 2: Accelerating multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder action and investments for achieving UHC from 3:00p.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the ECOSOC Chamber
- Closing segment from 5:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. in the Trusteeship Council Chamber
The final programme of the UHC HLM can be found here.
BY WHOM IS THE UNHLM BEING ORGANIZED?
The UN High-Level Meeting on UHC will be organized under the direction of the President of the UN General Assembly (PGA), in close consultation with the World Health Organization. The UN HLM preparatory process, including the multi-stakeholder hearing, is additionally supported by contributions from UHC2030 and other relevant initiatives.
H.E. Mr. Kaha Imnadze, Permanent Representative of Georgia to the UNand H.E. Mr. Vitavas Srivihok, Permanent Representative of Thailand to the UN, have been selected as the UNHLM co-facilitators. They have a critical role in the UNHLM preparations and will chair key discussions and negotiations.
WHAT IS THE EXPECTED LEVEL OF PARTICIPATION?
Previous UN HLM’s have been attended by Heads of State, Government Ministers, UN Secretary-General and other UN leaders, civil society, community representatives, the private sector, UN Ambassadors, researchers, academics, parliamentarians, and other relevant partners.
Member States are encouraged to participate at the highest possible level, preferably at the level of Heads of State and Government. Observers of the General Assembly and other stakeholders should also be represented at the highest possible level.
Further, the UNHLM presents an opportunity to move health discussions beyond the sole domain of Health Ministries and to engage other sectors, such as Ministries of Finance, for coordinated action.
HOW CAN INTERESTED STAKEHOLDERS PARTICIPATE IN THE UNHLM?
Entities which have already been approved for special accreditation and those in consultative status with ECOSOC may register to attend the UN HLM. Registration will open in late June 2019 (TBC).
Registration is not required for UN member states or the UN system, including funds, programmes and specialized agencies.
Due to limited capacity, registration will be capped for each organization. More information to follow in due course.
HOW WILL THE UNHLM POLITICAL DECLARATION BE DEVELOPED?
On 21 May 2019, the co-facilitators presented the ‘Zero Draft’ to Member States at the UN. The ‘Zero Draft’ is the basis for member states negotiations conducted in New York by UN Missions to produce a final resolution, and takes into account the outcomes of the multi-stakeholder hearing, as well as the Key Asks of the UHC Movement. Following months of intergovernmental negotiations, consensus on the political declaration was reached on 13 September 2019. The final Political Declaration was approved by Heads of State at the HLM on UHC on 23rd September 2019.