Authored by Sophie Baillon, spokesperson for Coalition Plus (a coalition of on-the-ground organisations present in 13 countries across the world fight against AIDS and for the rights of people living with HIV.
On Wednesday, at the International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria — the largest fund in the fight against the three diseases — the French government, UNAIDS and other prominent experts in the global AIDS response expressed their support for a Robin Hood Tax. They argued that with the Robin Hood Tax's ability to generate billions of dollars in additional funding, some money must be used to support a massive increase in HIV treatment and prevention needed, to aggressively scale up life-saving prevention and treatment services. The Robin Hood Tax can also serve to fund addition priorities besides turning the tide on HIV/AIDS, such as helping countries adapt to climate change or boosting employment at home.
President Clinton addressed delegates on Wednesday, describing the achievements of UNITAID, a program funded by a tax on airline ticket purchases, another form of innovative finance. Activists challenged President Clinton to support a Robin Hood Tax by dropping banners and holding signs, chanting “Clinton, End AIDS with a Robin Hood Tax!”
“President Clinton said that ending AIDS would take a partnership,” said Khalil Elouardighi of Coalition PLUS. “But the financial industry has refused to do its part so far. The Robin Hood Tax would finally ensure that the rhetoric on ending AIDS would become a reality. People living with HIV and communities at greatest risk of HIV infection around the world are waiting for life saving services but global leaders are failing to act.”
Eleven countries in the European Union have announced a Robin Hood Tax to be implemented starting January 2016. The design of the tax will be finalised at the December 2014 Summit of the European Union. Last month, the French President Francois Hollande wrote to the European Union President requesting that proceeds from this new tax be devoted to fighting AIDS and other pandemics, along with climate change.
The call for Robin Hood Taxes is happening all over the world. In the US, Members of Congress have introduced a Bill that would create a tiny tax on banks to help fight AIDS. "With only a few billion dollars a year from the Robin Hood Tax, we can actually fund the programs needed to end the AIDS pandemic. While the Obama Administration made a commitment to invest in the end of AIDS, our current budget crisis has resulted instead in severe restrictions in HIV programmes and drastic budget cuts at all levels, stripping away much needed services. ” said Asia Russell of Health GAP.
We know now that within 30 years, with all the funding needed, we could end the transmission of AIDS. But this is a matter of political will to make this issue a reality and take all the possible measures to fund the end to AIDS. And the Robin Hood Tax is the solution.