History and Timeline

UNITAID emerged from a series of high-level meetings that followed the September 2000 Millennium Summit at the United Nations General Assembly. There, 189 Heads of State and government signed the Millennium Declaration, which has since acted as a blueprint for fighting global poverty in the 21st Century.

Yet as the new century progressed, it soon became clear that the international community would not be able to meet the eight Millennium Development Goals that were set out at the Millennium Summit. This was especially true for the three health-related goals (reduce child mortality, improve maternal health and combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases). New forms of finance would be needed.

“Innovative financing for development” was the response, formulated through years of international negotiations and far-reaching thinking. UNITAID was the pioneering result of this process.

A timeline of the events leading to UNITAID’s creation:

You can visit an interactive version of the timeline below here

March 2002: Monterrey Conference in Mexico where the idea of “innovative financing mechanisms” is introduced into the international lexicon. The “Monterrey Consensus on Financing for Development” emerges, where developed and developing countries commit to exploring innovative financing mechanisms for development. Paragraph 44 of the Monterrey Consensus reads: "We recognise the value of exploring innovative sources of finance provided that those sources do not unduly burden developing countries".

January 2004: “The Geneva Declaration.” The Presidents of Brazil, Chile and France, with the support of the United Nations Secretary-General, call on the international community to create new sources of financing for development.

November 2003-September 2004: French President Jacque Chirac commissions the Landau Report [PDF, 380KB], a ground-breaking study on innovative financing headed by the French Inspector of Finances Jean-Pierre Landau.

September 2004:  Release of the Landau Report at the 59th session of the UN General Assembly. The report begins: “Globalization creates tremendous prosperity. There are strong moral and social justifications to allocate part of that wealth to the fight against poverty and inequality.”At the initiative of Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, over a hundred countries accessed to the “New York Declaration on Action against Hunger and Poverty,” which calls for innovative mechanisms of financing to raise funds for the MDGs. In particular, Brazil and France drew attention to the need to improve access to medicines for the world's poorest people as part of the global fight against the three major pandemic diseases HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.

August 2005: French President Jacques Chirac announces that the air ticket levy will be implemented in France starting in 2006.

September 2005: At United Nations General Assembly in New York, 79 countries back a Declaration on Innovative Sources of Financing for Development co-sponsored by Algeria, Brazil, Chile, France, Germany and Spain. Five years after the MDG Summit, this Declaration gives political legitimacy to innovative financing mechanisms being developed at the time.

February 2006: Over 100 countries attend a conference held in Paris entitled “Solidarity and Globalization: Innovative Financing for Development and against Pandemics.” Following this conference, France proposes to create an “international drug purchase facility,” soon to be UNITAID. The conference also results in the establishment of the Leading Group on Innovative Finance for Development. Today the Leading Group has become an important platform for discussion, sharing information and promoting innovative financing mechanisms.

June 2006:  Brazil, Chile, France and Norway draft a Joint Declaration on UNITAID outlining its mission key principles and objectives at the High Level Meeting on AIDS at the UN Headquarters in New York.

July 2006: The air ticket levy implemented in France, applicable to tickets issued after 1 July 2006. The levy is introduced in the form of a surcharge on the existing civil aviation tax.

September 2006: UNITAID officially launched by Brazil, France, Chile, Norway and the United Kingdom on Tuesday, 19 September at opening of the 61st Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations. Hosting agreement with the World Health Organization signed.

Some quotes from UNITAID’s official launch:

UNITAID is a model of its kind for many reasons. It is an approach that can be made to work rapidly. It is flexible, in that more countries can easily join the original members. And it is a lean mechanism which complements the existing global architecture for health, inside and outside the UN system.

19 September 2006

UNITAID is based on one simple principle: the allocation to the purchase or production of pharmaceutical drugs of a tiny part of the immense wealth generated by the acceleration of trade, to ensure that the globalization of solidarity matches that of the economy.

19 September 2006

Some recent quotes:

“I want to applaud the success of UNITAID, which was financed by a tax on plane tickets. This is the path upon which we have embarked. Now we must take the next step, which I propose: establishing a financial transaction tax, to which several European countries have already agreed, so that capital movements can be reined in or, if they are not, can – through this tax – finance development and fight threats to public health.”

September 2012

Implementing partners

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