• Human Rights

    The Global Fund is committed to protecting and promoting human rights. To defeat HIV, TB and malaria, we must focus on key populations and those that are most vulnerable. That means removing human rights barriers to health services for women and girls, sex workers, people who use drugs, men who have sex with men, transgender people, people in prison, migrants and refugees, indigenous peoples and others who are particularly impacted by one or more of thee three diseases. Discrimination and criminalization reduce access to health programs, and undermine efforts toward effective responses to HIV, TB and malaria. Our commitment also means ensuring that programs supported by the Global Fund do not violate human rights.

    The Global Fund is building human rights concerns into the grant cycle. It has taken specific steps to develop new policies and procedures, including minimum human rights standards in the Global Fund grant agreement, technical support for Global Fund applicants, training on human rights, gender and other cross-cutting issues for Global Fund staff, key performance indicators to measure progress, and setting up systems to explicitly track funding spent on interventions that address human rights barriers to accessing health services.

    This work is being developed based on consultations held since 2011 with human rights experts, civil society organizations, including key population networks, and technical partners.

    The Global Fund Human Rights Reference Group advises the Secretariat. The Global Fund Human Rights Reference Group 2015 members include:

    Permanent observers: UNAIDS (Luisa Cabal, Alexandrina Iovita), UNDP (Clifton Cortez, Mandeep Dhaliwal) and WHO (Diana Weil, Rebekah Thomas)

    The Human Rights Reference Group is co-chaired by Michaela Clayton and the Global Fund’s Senior Technical Advisor, Human Rights. Members of the Human Rights Reference Group include Timur Abdullaev, Javier Bellocq, Anna-Louise Crago, Joanne Csete, Bhavani Fonseka, Mikhail Golichenko, Rick Lines, Muriel Mac-Seing, Sian Maseko, Charmain Mohamed, Dora Kiconco Musinguzi, Enrique Restoy, Meg Satterthwaite and Christian Tshimbalanga.

    The members of the Human Rights Reference Group are selected annually by the Secretariat, in consultation with the permanent observers, through a nominations process. The members serve in an individual capacity.

    Investing in change

    The Global Fund Strategy Framework 2012-16 commits to five objectives, one of which is to “protect and promote human rights” in the context of the three diseases through three actions:

    • Increase investment in programs that address human rights barriers to access
    • Integrate human rights considerations throughout the grant cycle
    • Ensure the Global Fund does not finance programs that infringe human rights.

    To act on these commitments, from July 2013 to December 2014, the Global Fund developed new tools and built its internal capacity on human rights. During this period, the Global Fund worked with UNDP and the Human Rights Reference Group to develop the Human Rights for HIV, TB, Malaria and HSS Grants Information Note, which describes the package of five interventions the Global Fund will support in HIV, TB, malaria or HSS grants to address human rights barriers to accessing health services. This is now available online ( download


    The five interventions are known as Removing Legal Barriers programs. They include:

    • Legal environment assessment and law reform
    • Legal aid services and legal literacy
    • Training on rights for police, officials and health workers
    • Community-based monitoring
    • Policy advocacy and social accountability

    Removing Legal Barriers programs focus on tackling one human rights barrier by bringing together government and civil society to work in partnership and use all five interventions as a package to remove a human rights barrier to accessing health services. The Global Fund is proud to fund a growing number of Removing Legal Barriers programs through country and regional grants.

    The Global Fund only funds health-related human rights programs through national and regional grants. For more information on how to engage with the process, see Engage! Practical Tips to Ensure the New Funding Model Delivers the Impact Communities Need.

    For more on the work done to integrate human rights in the work of the Global Fund, see this article from Health and Human Rights


    New human rights accountability

    To ensure that Global Fund-financed programs do not infringe human rights, five minimum human rights standards are now part of to the Global Fund’s grant agreement, establishing the Global Fund’s expectations for all the programs it supports. The Global Fund has tasked its Office of the Inspector General with the responsibility of investigating any complaints of violations of human rights in programs which it supports.

    Under the grant agreement, Global Fund grant recipients are required to let the Global Fund know if there is a risk that programs may violate any of the standards, and may be asked to work with the Secretariat to address the risks with specific actions.

    The minimum human rights standards are:

    1. Programs financed by the Global Fund are expected to grant non-discriminatory access to services for all, including people in detention.
    2. Programs financed by the Global Fund are expected to employ only scientifically sound and approved medicines or medical practices.
    3. Programs financed by the Global Fund are expected to not employ methods that constitute torture or that are cruel, inhuman or degrading.
    4. Programs financed by the Global Fund are expected to respect and protect informed consent, confidentiality and the right to privacy concerning medical testing, treatment or health services rendered.
    5. Programs financed by the Global Fund are expected to avoid medical detention and involuntary isolation, which are to be used only as a last resort.

    If someone believes that they have either experienced or witnessed a violation of any of these five human rights standards in a Global Fund-supported program, they can file a complaint with the Global Fund Office of the Inspector General. An organization may file a complaint on behalf of an individual or group that is directly affected, provided they have a letter of authorization.

    The identity of the person making the complaint will remain strictly confidential, unless they provide consent for his/her information to be disclosed. Anyone reporting a violation may choose to remain anonymous.

    The aim of the process is to ensure better access to services, better quality services, and accountability. The Global Fund welcomes information that will enable action to improve services.

    For more information on the standards and the human rights complaints procedure, see this brochure


    For information on how to file a complaint, see the Office of the Inspector General page.

    This human rights complaints procedure is in line with the Global Fund’s commitment to transparency and accountability. The procedure has been developed following UN guidance for businesses and donors on human rights: see the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.


    Consultations with civil society and human rights experts have created recommendations for the Global Fund. Read them here:

    Share Your Recommendations

    If you work on health and human rights and have specific recommendations for the Global Fund, please write to share them at .