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 will take place at UN Headquarters in New York on 23rd September 2019, the Monday before the opening of the UN General Debate.
WHAT ARE THE EXPECTED OUTCOMES OF THE UNHLM?
Expected outcomes TBC.
HOW MANY HEADS OF STATE ARE EXPECTED TO ATTEND?
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:
- an opening segment from 9:00 to 9:30, 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
- a plenary segment from 10:30 to 13:00 and 15:00 to 17:30, where Heads of State will deliver their statements,
- two multi-stakeholder panels from 11:00 to 13:00 and the other from 15:00 to 17:00;
- a closing segment from 17:30 to 18:00.
The panel themes are still to be determined by the President of the General Assembly, in consultation with Member States.
WHO IS THE UNHLM BEING ORGANIZED BY?
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. Ms. Katalin Annamária Bogyay, Permanent Representative of Hungary to the UN and 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.
WHO PARTICIPATES IN A UN HLM?
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. Accreditation to attend the Interactive Multistakeholder Hearing and the HLM will open soon
However, Accreditation is not required for UN member states, UN entities, and non-governmental organizations in consultative status with ECOSOC (please see list of institutions with ECOSOC status here).
HOW WILL THE UNHLM POLITICAL DECLARATION BE DEVELOPED?
The co-facilitators are expected to release a ‘Zero Draft,’ in early 2019 (date TBC) which will serve as the first draft of the UN HLM Political Declaration that will be endorsed by Heads of State. The ‘Zero Draft’ will be the basis for member states negotiations conducted in New York by UN Missions to produce a final resolution, and will take into account the outcomes of the multi-stakeholder hearing. The final Political Declaration is expected to be endorsed by Heads of State at the HLM on UHC on 23rd September 2019.