Julia Cleves

Aids policy adviser to the UN

Julia Caroline Cleves, international civil servant: born Wolverhampton, Staffordshire 17 June 1959; Chief of the Office of the Executive Director, Unaids, United Nations 1999-2003, Chief of Policy 2003-06; married 1981 David Mosse (two sons; marriage dissolved), 2002 Andrew Cassels; died Cranleigh, Surrey 5 September 2007.

Julia Cleves was a specialist in Aids, gender and development, with a particular focus on India. In her most recent role, as Chief of Policy at the joint United Nations programme on HIV and Aids (Unaids), she raised political and financial support for international action on Aids and established new public-private partnerships for increasing access to Aids medicines at a critical point in the epidemic.

She was born in Wolverhampton in 1959, second of four children and the only daughter of an RAF officer who was a teacher trainer. The family settled in Taunton and after attending first Weirfield then Taunton School, Cleves gained a First in English at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. Oxford provided the perfect setting for her to expore her Christian faith, her creativity and love of performance as well as to develop her distinctive style (she sat final exams in a lacy cocktail dress). She threw herself into the rapidly developing Christian arts scene through the Oxford Christian Arts and Drama Society – as performer (a beautiful and visionary Joan of Arc in Anouilh's The Lark), director of Eliot's The Cocktail Party and co-writer of a musical morality play, Beelzebub, which toured to the Edinburgh Fringe.

After graduation she married a fellow student, David Mosse (now Professor of Social Anthropology at the School of Oriental and African Studies of London University). The year they spent in India, in a village in Tamil Nadu, for Mosse's research, was pivotal to Cleves's future work. She experienced "development" first-hand: poverty, caste and gender playing out in the face of the whole gamut of aid instruments, from food aid to missionary healthcare.

Back in the UK in 1983, Cleves took an MLitt, which deepened her engagement with feminism, and had a short but meteoric career in publishing at Blackwells, which spawned her desire to write. A further spell in India, this time with Mosse working for Oxfam, and now with two sons, Jacob and Oliver, produced four books, of which Half the World, Half a Chance; an introduction to gender and development (1993) and India: paths to development (1991) endured as accessible but authoritative introductory texts.

The family returned to Swansea in 1991 and after a further master's degree in population policy and planning from Cardiff University, Cleves launched into full-time research, teaching and consulting in international health at the Centre for Development Studies of Swansea University. In 1994 she was recruited as Health Adviser for the UK's Overseas Development Administration (now DFID – the Department for International Development) to work in New Delhi. This came just as Aids was widely recognised as a threat among some of India's marginalised groups, especially sex workers and long-distance truck drivers; and as the UN consensus on population and development had been reached at Cairo, which promised a shift in emphasis from "population control" towards a more woman-centred reproductive health approach. Cleves worked to establish novel patterns of assistance for health, population and HIV/Aids work throughout India. She developed a significant portfolio of networked programmes and a professional team to help manage them at community and state levels.

In 1998 Cleves came back to the UK and having attained her doctorate in international health policy took on the role of Acting Chief Health and Population Adviser at DFID, before separating from her husband and moving to Geneva in 1999 – initially to lead the executive office of the Unaids Executive Director Peter Piot, then as Unaids' Chief of Policy. At this time, the political profile of Aids was on the rise: a variety of actors was considering how best to respond.

In 2001, with characteristic verve and ability to pull off high-risk ventures, Cleves played a key role in Unaids' efforts to ensure that the UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV/Aids secured commitment from governments, business, civil society and communities, marking a turning point in the global response to the Aids epidemic.

She was also at the heart of several initiatives to increase the synergy of international Aids assistance to multiply its impact. These included the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the International Partnership against Aids in Africa and the Accelerating Access Initiative sponsored by the UN system, World Bank and pharmaceutical companies. Funding for Aids action increased and drastic (as much as 40-fold) reductions in prices for medicine were negotiated so that anti-Aids drugs became more accessible to millions of people. The landscape of Aids action was changed – irreversibly.

The move to Geneva also cemented her relationship with Dr Andrew Cassels, a director at the World Health Organisation with whom she had worked closely in India.

In the autumn of 2001, Julia Cleves's career was interrupted suddenly by ovarian cancer. During periods of remission, she led new work for Unaids with Shell, using its long-term forecasting techniques to explore how policymakers could confront Aids in the present. In 2002 Julia married Andrew and during this time wrote a novel and poetry, reconnected with her faith, and with Andrew built a beautiful home in Provence which they shared with family and friends. Julia Cleves had vision, humour, and prodigious stamina: and she was endlessly kind. These attributes and her contribution to international Aids, health and development work will be remembered by many – and greatly missed by those fortunate enough to have worked with her.

Elizabeth Smith, Peter Piot and David Nabarro

Arts and Entertainment
TVShow's twee, safe facade smashed by ice cream melting scandal
Life and Style
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Pupils educated at schools like Eton (pictured) are far more likely to succeed in politics and the judiciary, the report found
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Actor, model and now record breaker: Jiff the Pomeranian
REX/Eye Candy
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
Down time: an employee of Google uses the slide to get to the canteen
scienceBosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

£20000 - £30000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Project C...

EYFS Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Our Primary School in Grimsby ar...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Year 6 Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Year 6 Supply Teacher Position a...

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?