The HIV Justice Network (HJN) is a global information and advocacy hub for individuals and organisations working to end the inappropriate use of the criminal law to regulate and punish people living with HIV.
HJN’s fiscal host is the HIV Justice Foundation (HJF), an independent, non-profit legal entity registered in the Netherlands (as Stichting HIV Justice) to specifically serve as the fiscal organisation for the HIV Justice Network and other related activities. This includes serving as the secretariat for HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE (HJWW), a growing, global movement working to shape the discourse on HIV criminalisation.
HJN co-ordinates HJWW activities that include creating and sharing resources; sharing information and networking; building capacity; mobilising advocacy; and cultivating a global community of transparency and collaboration between organisations working to address HIV criminalisation.
HJN is also the lead grantee for the HIV Justice Global Consortium, the mechanism through which HJN – and most HJWW activities – are funded thanks to the Robert Carr Fund for civil society networks.
The idea behind the HIV Justice Network was first conceived when NAM (HJN’s former fiscal host) partnered with the Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+) and the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network (HIV Legal Network) on a pre-conference on HIV criminalisation in Vienna prior to AIDS 2010. It was here that the need for a global network of advocates working to end HIV criminalisation was conceptualised by Edwin J Bernard, who eventually became HJN’s first Global Co-ordinator, and subsequently its Executive Director.
In 2012, Edwin co-ordinated the Oslo Declaration on HIV Criminalisation. More than 1700 individuals and organisations from 120 countries have since supported the Declaration, which became HJN’s founding document.
Following seed funding from the Monument Trust, HJN officially launched in November 2012, with a website that remains a unique asset to advocacy on this issue. It was the first international resource to effectively centralise information not only about HIV criminalisation laws, policies and law enforcement, but also the growing global movement against HIV criminalisation.
HJN’s strength (and its growth in influence) came from collaborating with larger organisations that shared similar goals, values and principles. It has also made innovative use of video and social media to achieve a significant increase in awareness of the issue of HIV criminalisation despite only having limited resources.
In early 2015, HJN approached a number of partners to create the HIV Justice Global Consortium – comprising AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA, financial lead); HJN (technical lead); HIV Legal Network, GNP+, the Sero Project and Positive Women’s Network-USA – which was successful in its application for three-year funding from the Robert Carr Fund for civil society networks.
The six organisations began a joint workplan in January 2016, launching HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE (HJWW) in March 2016. HJWW is now run by a Steering Committee (SC) currently comprising the six original Consortium partners plus AIDS Action Europe, the International Community of Women Living with HIV (ICW) and Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC).
In July 2017, the HIV Justice Foundation was established as an independent, non-profit legal entity, registered in the Netherlands. This allowed HJN to scale-up its capacity to become both the financial and technical lead for the second iteration of the HIV Justice Global Consortium. The Consortium, comprising the six previous partners plus SALC, was successful in its application for a further three-year funding cycle (2019-2021) from the Robert Carr Fund for civil society networks
In 2018, HJN launched its first Strategic Plan covering the period 2018 – 2021. It outlines that HJN’s vision is a world where the sexual, reproductive and working lives of people living with HIV are no longer unjustly regulated or controlled, so that people living with HIV are able to live fulfilling and long lives in dignity. Our mission is to support individuals, communities and organisations to effectively advocate against criminal and similar laws, policies and practices that unjustly regulate, control and punish people living with HIV, based on their HIV-positive status.
HJN has three main objectives:
- To monitor international developments regarding criminal and similar laws, policies and practices that unjustly regulate, control and punish people living with HIV based on their HIV-positive status, as well as the global advocacy movement against this ‘HIV criminalisation’.
- To connect local, national, regional and global stakeholders, sharing information and resources to allow for targeted research and discussion of key issues, and identification of best practice models.
- To create practical resources to enable advocacy, empowerment and challenge through persuasive and pragmatic policy development and effective communication strategies.
This will result in advocates who are better informed, empowered and connected and, therefore, more able to challenge and influence decision-makers in order to: repeal or modernise unjust laws; ensure that any use of existing laws is limited and fairly applied; and present alternatives to a punitive, regulatory approach that benefits both public health and human rights.