19 July 2005
Security Council Presidential Statement Recognizes “Significant Progress” Addressing HIV/AIDS among Peacekeepers, but Says Many Challenges Remain
Reaffirms Commitment to Implementation of Resolution 1308 (2000); Peacekeeping Under-Secretary General, Head of UNAIDS Brief Council
NEW YORK, 18 July (UN Headquarters) -- The Security Council today, following briefings by top United Nations officials on addressing HIV/AIDS among peacekeepers and their host populations, recognized the “significant progress” being made, but said many challenges remained and it reaffirmed its full commitment to implementation of the July 2000 resolution on the issue.
Through a statement read out by its President, Adamantios Vassilakis of Greece, the Council recognized that men and women in the uniformed services are vital elements in the fight against HIV/AIDS and welcomed efforts by Member States, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) to counter the spread of the disease. The Council also recognized that United Nations peacekeeping personnel could be important contributors to the response to HIV/AIDS, particularly for vulnerable communities in post-conflict environments.
Further, the Council welcomed the collaboration between the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and UNAIDS to address HIV/AIDS awareness among peacekeeping personnel, both uniformed and civilian. It also commended UNAIDS for developing, in cooperation with interested States, national programmes to address HIV/AIDS among their uniformed personnel. It encouraged Member States, in preparing their personnel for participation in peacekeeping operations, to employ best practices in HIV/AIDS education, prevention, awareness, countering stigma and discrimination, voluntary confidential counselling and testing, and care and treatment.
The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Marie Guéhenno told the Council that resolution 1308 had provided the necessary jolt the Organization had desperately needed to address HIV/AIDS in the context of peacekeeping operations. Since the adoption of the landmark resolution the Department had developed a comprehensive strategy to reduce the risk of peacekeepers contracting or transmitting the virus while on mission. The strategy had five areas, including creating specific capacity within missions to address AIDS, developing voluntary counselling and testing capacities and setting up outreach projects to local communities.
In the five years since the resolution’s adoption, the Department had learned many lessons from partners, its successes and its mistakes, he said. The question was, however, whether it was doing enough. While the Department had overcome much resistance, a number of areas still needed to be tackled. Testing remained a controversial and divisive issue. It was also necessary to ensure that AIDS awareness was considered a command responsibility, moving beyond rhetoric and to engagement at the highest levels. Continued support for the HIV/AIDS Trust Fund was also needed, and the capacity of missions to respond to growing demands needed to be reviewed. Ultimately, addressing HIV and peacekeeping must be a joint effort, involving Member States, troop-contributing countries, United Nations and other agencies and host communities. He looked forward to strengthening further those partnerships.
Also briefing the Council, Peter Piot, the Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), said the adoption of resolution 1308 had transformed the way the world’s leaders viewed AIDS, with many now viewing AIDS as a threat to national security and stability, rather than to development and public health alone. Five years after passing the resolution, the world’s response to AIDS had gathered such strength that for the first time ever, there was a real opportunity to halt and begin to reverse the devastating epidemic. Resolution 1308 had paved the way for UNAIDS to engage uniformed services as key partners in the response to AIDS.
While significant progress had been made, however, the threat posed by the epidemic continued to outstrip the worst fears, he added. In 2004, more people had become infected with HIV and more people had died of AIDS than in any previous year. The United Nations-stated goal underpinning resolution 1308 was that all peacekeepers and all uniformed personnel must be given the knowledge and means to protect themselves and others from HIV. That goal was not yet being achieved and the international community was still too far from the point where it responded to AIDS as a part of core military business everywhere.
In the debate that followed Council members welcomed increased partnership between the Peacekeeping Department and UNAIDS to tackle the HIV/AIDS epidemic and agreed that, while significant progress had been made in implementing the landmark resolution, many challenges remained. Several speakers stressed that while the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse, which had received much attention, could compliment efforts to address the issue of HIV/AIDS in peacekeeping missions, it should not diminish from the attention either of those issues received.
Transmission of HIV in a conflict zone should never be an act of a United Nations peacekeeper, Denmark’s representative said. While there might not be proof that HIV/AIDS posed a direct threat to peace and stability, AIDS was a killer. More than 3 million people had died from AIDS last year and more would die this year, continuing to aggravate the socio-economic, cultural and political implications. In his “In Larger Freedom” report, the Secretary-General had called for a new security consensus that included infectious diseases. It was time for the international community to demonstrate its firm commitment. A strong text on HIV/AIDS in the 2005 Summit Declaration would be an important step in the right direction.
The “Blue Helmets” worked in fragile, dangerous and extremely demanding environments, and HIV/AIDS was yet another risk they had to face, Argentina’s representative noted. Working under such conditions, peacekeeping personnel needed sufficient training, knowledge and solidarity. Measures to eradicate the causes of exploitation and sexual abuse and the fight against HIV/AIDS must be faced jointly. Prioritizing one area should not be at the detriment of another, he added.
The United Kingdom’s representative, welcoming steps to assess the impact of interventions on national commitment, knowledge, attitudes and behaviour, said it was critical for UNAIDS to use that learning to guide their future programming and communication material. While tackling HIV/AIDS among peacekeeping personnel was essential, efforts must not stop there. United Nations peacekeeping operations were in an excellent position to engage with vulnerable communities affected by conflict to ensure that the epidemic did not gain a foothold amongst them. He welcomed the UNAIDS policy position on intensifying prevention and urged Member States to apply those best practices to both their peacekeeping and national uniformed personnel.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Algeria, United States, Russian Federation, Brazil, United Republic of Tanzania, China, Romania, France, Philippines, Benin, Japan and Greece.
The meeting began at 10:13 a.m. and adjourned at 12:20 p.m.
The full text of presidential statement S/PRST/2005/33 reads as follows:
“The Security Council reaffirms its commitment to the full implementation of resolution 1308 (2000). The Council also recalls the United Nations General Assembly Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS of June 2001.
“The Security Council welcomes the collaboration between DPKO and UNAIDS and its Co-sponsors to address HIV/AIDS awareness among peacekeeping personnel, both uniformed and civilian. The Council commends UNAIDS for developing, in cooperation with interested States, national programmes to address HIV/AIDS among their uniformed personnel. The Council recognises the significant number of direct and indirect beneficiaries of the programmes worldwide.
“The Security Council recognises that men and women in the uniformed services are vital elements in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The Council welcomes the efforts by Member States, including through existing national programmes, DPKO, UNAIDS and other stakeholders to counter the spread of the disease. The Council encourages Member States, in the preparation of their personnel for participation in peacekeeping operations, to employ best practices in HIV/AIDS education, prevention, awareness, countering stigma and discrimination, voluntary confidential counselling and testing, and care and treatment.
“The Security Council recognises that UN peacekeeping personnel can be important contributors to the response to HIV/AIDS, particularly for vulnerable communities in post-conflict environments. The Council welcomes the action taken by the Secretary General and the UN peacekeeping missions to integrate HIV/AIDS awareness in their mandated activities and outreach projects for vulnerable communities, and urges them to pay particular attention to the gender dimensions of HIV/AIDS. In this context the Council encourages further cooperation between DPKO and UNAIDS and its Co-sponsors, non-governmental organizations and civil society, bilateral and multilateral donors and national governments.
“The Security Council recognises that significant progress has been made in implementation of resolution 1308 (2000) but that many challenges remain. The Council expresses its readiness to further promote and support the implementation of this resolution. In order to maintain and consolidate momentum, the Council welcomes regular briefings, as needed, by DPKO and UNAIDS on the progress made, as a measure to strengthen commitment and accountability at the highest levels and ensure sustained monitoring and evaluation of the impact of programmes. The Council reaffirms its intention to contribute within its competence to the attainment of the relevant objectives in the declaration adopted at the Twenty-sixth Special Session of the General Assembly in carrying out the Council’s work, in particular in its follow-up to resolution 1308 (2000).”
The Security Council met today to consider HIV/AIDS and international peacekeeping operations in the context of its responsibility in the maintenance of international peace and security.
In its resolution 1308, adopted five years ago, on 17 July 2000, the Council had, among other things, encouraged Member States to consider developing, in cooperation with the international community and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), effective long-term strategies for HIV/AIDS education, prevention, voluntary and confidential testing and counselling, and treatment for personnel as an important part of their preparation for their participation in peacekeeping operations.
Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, JEAN-MARIE GUEHENNO, said five years had passed since the Council had adopted resolution 1308 (2000). While some had wondered whether it belonged on the Council’s agenda, the landmark resolution had provided the jolt the Organization desperately needed. Conflict and post-conflict environments were high-risk areas for the spread of HIV. Since the adoption of resolution 1308, the Department had developed a comprehensive strategy to reduce the risk of peacekeepers contracting or transmitting the virus while on mission. The strategy had five key elements, including creating specific capacity within missions to address AIDS, ensuring the availability of condoms and observing universal medical precautions, developing voluntary counselling and testing capacities in missions, establishing monitoring and evaluation mechanisms and setting up outreach projects to local communities and mainstreaming AIDS into mission mandates.
He said he welcomed the opportunity to brief the Council on concrete progress achieved in all five of those areas. The Department was dependent on many partners throughout the United Nations system and with host communities to achieve progress. Perhaps the most essential partners, however, were the 105 countries which currently contributed uniformed personnel to United Nations peacekeeping operations around the world. Member State support was a determining factor in the success of the programmes. He expressed gratitude to Denmark and the United Kingdom for their contributions to the HIV/AIDS Trust Fund. The assistance could not have been timelier, given that the numbers of United Nations peacekeepers deployed worldwide continued to surge. Today, there were over 66,000 uniformed personnel, and more than 13,000 international and national civilian serving in 17 peacekeeping and related field operations.
When he had reported to the Council two years ago on resolution 1308, there were just four AIDS advisers to all major peacekeeping operations. There were now 10, supported by United Nations Volunteers and national professionals. Smaller missions had designated focal points. Together, they created a valuable network across all peacekeeping operations. The Department and UNAIDS had undertaken joint missions to Haiti and the Sudan to establish AIDS programmes in advance of major troop and civilian personnel deployments. Since 2003, UNAIDS had seconded an AIDS policy adviser to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations headquarters to provide policy guidance and coordinate mission initiatives.
Awareness training was central to the Department’s strategy, he said. The Department worked closely with troop-contributing countries and UNAIDS to establish at least a basic level of awareness among peacekeepers. AIDS was routinely included in “train the trainer” courses and military observer programmes. It was also central to mission specific pre-deployment training, like that provided to Guatemalan and Peruvian peacekeepers being deployed to Haiti, to Rwandan peacekeepers being deployed to the Sudan and to “re-hatted” African Union peacekeepers in Burundi. The Department had recently revised its AIDS training module to ensure that important issues of gender, codes of conduct and sexual exploitation and abuse were fully reflected.
Another part of the strategy was to reinforce support for the issue within the Department, he said. AIDS was on the agenda of next week’s force commanders’ conference and was part of senior leadership induction. Within missions, AIDS advisers coordinated with training cells to provide induction and ongoing awareness training to troops, military observers, civilian police and civilian staff. Missions also ensured the availability of reproductive health items, such as male and female condoms.
The question was how to measure the effectiveness of training programmes, he added. To find some answers, the Department had piloted an HIV/AIDS knowledge, attitude and practice survey in Liberia during May and June this year, in collaboration with the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and UNAIDS. More than 660 uniformed peacekeepers had been randomly selected and interviewed. While awareness was generally high, only a small number had received training from within their battalions or detachments. Moreover, less than 2 per cent had been briefed on AIDS by their commanding officers while in the mission area. The support of command structure was crucial to any efforts to mainstream AIDS training. In that regard, he urged contributing countries to ensure that AIDS awareness was considered a command responsibility.
Knowledge in itself, however, did not protect people from HIV, he said. Rather, it was what people did with that knowledge and how they changed their behaviour that made the difference. Strengthening voluntary counselling and testing facilities across peacekeeping missions was a priority, allowing peacekeepers to make an informed decision to find out their HIV status and was critical to influencing behaviour and preventing transmission. Of the peacekeepers surveyed, over 92 per cent had been tested for HIV as part of their preparation for deployment, but only half had stated that they had received any counselling with the test.
The Department’s efforts focused not only on how to reduce the risk of HIV transmission, but also on how to capitalize the positive potential of peacekeepers as “agents of change”. Peacekeepers could share their knowledge about HIV with the local population. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for example, sensitization projects by peacekeepers had ranged from theatre performances and football matches to high-profile events attended by local dignitaries. Peacekeeping missions had also developed AIDS outreach projects that specifically targeted local communities. All AIDS advisers were members of their respective host country’s United Nations Theme Groups on HIV/AIDS, which assisted in the implementation of national strategies to respond to the epidemic. United Nations Volunteers in missions had often played a pivotal role in outreach projects, such as raising funds for school fees for AIDS orphans in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Department was also collaborating with other United Nations agencies to mainstream AIDS into mandated mission functions.
Over the past five years, the Department had learned many lessons from partners, its successes and its mistakes, he said. The question was, however, whether it was doing enough. Was the basic strategy the right one and what additional investments were needed to sustain and strengthen efforts? His feeling was that that the Department was on the right track. While the Department had overcome much resistance, there was a demand for more. A number of areas still needed to be tackled. Testing, for example, remained a controversial and divisive issue. It was also necessary to ensure that AIDS awareness was considered a command responsibility, moving beyond rhetoric and to engagement at the highest levels. Continued support for the HIV/AIDS Trust Fund was also needed and the capacity of missions to respond to growing demands would need to be reviewed, to move beyond awareness-raising to actually changing risk behaviours.
In 2000, the Department had barely crossed paths with agencies such as UNAIDS. Ultimately, addressing HIV and peacekeeping must be a joint effort, involving Member States, troop-contributing countries, United Nations and other agencies and host communities. He looked forward to strengthening further those partnerships.
PETER PIOT, Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), said resolution 1308 (2000) had been a milestone in the response to the AIDS epidemic. Through that resolution, the Council had transformed the way the world’s leaders viewed AIDS. Many now viewed AIDS as a threat to national security and stability, rather than to development and public health alone. Because of that transformation, today, five years after passing the resolution, the world’s response to AIDS had gathered such strength that for the first time ever, there was a real opportunity to halt and begin to reverse the devastating epidemic, as called for in Millennium Development Goal 6.
There was a true momentum in the fight against AIDS, he said. There was a political momentum, as well as a financial momentum. $8 billion was going to be spent on AIDS responses in low- and middle-income countries. There was also a momentum of results. There were successes in almost all the regions of the world. In five years, the global response to AIDS had entered the era of implementation. However, while significant progress had been made, the threat posed by the epidemic had not dwindled and continued to outstrip the worst fears. In 2004, more people had become infected with HIV and more people had died of AIDS than in any previous year. AIDS was a truly global epidemic, making rapid inroads not only into new countries, but also into new populations, particularly young people and women.
Introducing the UNAIDS progress report “On the Front Line”, he said within the Secretariat, an Office on AIDS, Security and Humanitarian Response had been established which, with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Member States and other partners had pursued an integrated approach to AIDS and security. The strategy had been to ensure that the United Nations set the highest possible standards in protecting from HIV both peacekeepers and the populations with whom they are in contact.
With the increasing focus on regional troop and mission management for peacekeeping, key regional bodies had been actively engaged, he said. The African Union had been supported in development of its AIDS strategic plan for 2005-2007. The African Union Peace and Security Council was being helped to develop AIDS-related programmes for standby forces. The UNAIDS was also working with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) secretariat in developing comprehensive AIDS programmes for uniformed services. There was, however, still a long way to go, as evidenced by recent reports of sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers. The adoption by the Assembly last month of a comprehensive strategy to eliminate sexual exploitation and abuse in United Nations peacekeeping operations was a major step forward. Zero tolerance of any violation of the Code of Conduct would go a long way.
He said resolution 1308 had paved the way for UNAIDS to engage uniformed services as key partners in the response to AIDS. The UNAIDS was assisting 53 Member States with comprehensive programmes to address AIDS amongst uniformed services. It had signed formal partnership agreements with 15 ministries of defence covering about 1.3 million active uniformed personnel. Each programme included HIV education and awareness, condom promotion and distribution, strengthening of counselling and testing services, and improving the skills of health personnel to treat sexually-transmitted infections and provided HIV-specific care. A small but growing number of defence, military and political leaders now fully understood the need to address AIDS and had begun to make sustained investments. “However, we are still too far from the point where responding to AIDS is a part of core military business everywhere”, he said.
One challenge of working with uniformed services was the need to expand significantly access to HIV testing and counselling, a priority for UNAIDS and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. Another challenge was the need to ensure the consistent implementation of programmes. There were two tasks in relation to AIDS and security. The first task was to expand knowledge of, and address, the broader impact of AIDS on human security and national stability in the most affected countries, particularly those in conflict and post-conflict situations. The worst affected countries would be destabilized by the epidemic. The UNAIDS was also building and reviewing evidence on the long-term impact of AIDS on stability and security. The second great task related to classic security matters.
He said the United Nations-stated goal underpinning resolution 1308 was that all peacekeepers and all uniformed personnel must be given the knowledge and means to protect themselves and others from HIV. That goal was not being achieved, as yet.
ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) said the mobilization of the international community and the United Nations system to combat HIV/AIDS had never been as determined as in the past five years. Yet, the epidemic continued to spread, threatening peace and security and causing great human suffering. Sub-Saharan Africa remained most affected by HIV/AIDS. It was clear that the numerous conflicts troubling the region were conducive to the spread of the pandemic. He could only welcome the further coordination and strengthening of cooperation between the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and UNAIDS in such areas as raising awareness and staff training. Parallel actions were also needed for local community initiatives in the areas of peacebuilding and the process of transition. Field personnel must shoulder their part of that mission.
Combating AIDS must be one of the priorities for the national sectors dealing with the issue of security, including the army and the police, he said. The UNAIDS supported the national programmes of a number of countries, including those of troop-contributing countries. The idea of launching new programmes involving uniformed personnel deserved consideration. The problem was complex and the action of the Council was limited, however. Combating HIV/AIDS must include unified and time-bound actions. The effort to address HIV/AIDS must be headed by the General Assembly. The Council’s efforts must be a part of those efforts. The UNAIDS had been called on to reinforce existing initiatives. In 2006, the General Assembly was to receive a comprehensive report on progress achieved so far, providing an opportunity to move the debate forward.
WILLIAM BRENCICK (United States) said the UNAIDS report demonstrated that the United Nations’ response to AIDS had been increasingly institutionalized. He was pleased to note achievements in respect to peacekeeping missions and was encouraged that missions increasingly had the tools to address the problems. His country was a global leader in the combat of HIV/AIDS. That commitment was exemplified by the President’s $15 billion Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief which was achieving its targets in prevention, care and treatment ahead of schedule.
He said the United States would continue to support resolution 1308. The President’s Emergency Plan had provided resources and technical assistance to implement long-term strategies for HIV/AIDS education, prevention, counselling, testing and treatment in more than 70 military and peacekeeping populations around the world, among other things. His country would continue to expand assistance to uniformed populations around the world through bilateral programmes, including testing capability and prevention education programmes, as well as consultation for development of sound prevention, care and treatment policies. His country also strongly supported the further development and expansion of HIV/AIDS prevention activities in uniformed populations and coordination with international organizations, other donors and non-governmental organizations.
NIKOLAY V. CHULKOV (Russian Federation) said HIV/AIDS was one of the most serious non-military threats to peace and security. The epidemic depleted resources and negatively impacted the overall socio-economic situation of countries. Like other global problems, it also affected international peace and stability. Based on the urgency of the problem, coordinated efforts, carried out under the auspices of the United Nations, were needed. By virtue of the idiosyncrasies of duty in the various hotspots, United Nations personnel were in a more vulnerable situation. In that regard, he underscored the importance of UNAIDS efforts in implementing resolution 1308, including focal points in all peacekeeping operations and tailored modules to raise awareness.
The focus of attention should also include voluntary, confidential counselling and testing for peacekeepers, he said. Careful account must be taken of national and cultural particularities of both the peacekeeping contingent and the country where the contingent was deployed. All were complementary to efforts taken at the national level. The global fight against HIV called for firm policy leadership and coordinated action, supported by technical and financial resources. The General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council were meant to conduct comprehensive efforts in the fight against HIV/AIDS and had done much in that regard. A major role had been played by the Secretary-General himself to fight HIV/AIDS. Consistent efforts by the various parts of the United Nations system working with other international organizations and civil society would lead to a global breakthrough in resolving the HIV/AIDS challenge.
PAULO ROBERTO CAMPOS TARRISSE DA FONTAURA (Brazil) said that given the extent of the HIV/AIDS pandemic worldwide, and with approximately 100,000 uniformed personnel being involved in United Nations peacekeeping per year, the deployment of peacekeepers in high or low HIV/AIDS prevalence countries was an important issue. He welcomed the cooperative work done by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and UNAIDS to the response in the field and noted that HIV/AIDS advisers got also involved with outreach projects to local communities. It would be important, in that respect, to reflect upon their role in high-prevalence areas towards people living with HIV/AIDS who did not have access to life-saving medicines and treatment. Another challenge stemmed from the cultural diversity of peacekeepers, as well as the frequent rotation of troops, which put at risk the sustainability of programmes.
He said, today, at least 40 million people worldwide were living with HIV/AIDS, most of them in developing countries. Only 12 per cent of those who needed treatment outside rich countries received it. Such a dramatic situation required urgent and exceptional action at all levels. Unfortunately, at the current rate of progress, the international community would not achieve any of the time-bound targets and goals of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS. The resources to combat the pandemic worldwide fell short of what was needed. Apart from funds, commitment must be comprehensive.
The result achieved in Brazil in combating the pandemic was based upon a balanced approach and simultaneous emphasis on prevention and treatment, as well a protection of human rights. A wide range of preventive measures had proved successful, such as free distribution of condoms. Brazil’s positive experience with treatment related to the impact of free and universal access to antiretroviral therapy. Access to treatment had a positive impact on prevention efforts and reduced stigma and discrimination by enabling people to openly address the HIV/AIDS issue.
AUGUSTINE P. MAHIGA (United Republic of Tanzania) said the HIV/AIDS pandemic was an exceptional problem that demanded an exceptional response. It was a cross-cutting issue that impacted upon all sectors and, as such, needed to be tackled in a coordinated manner by all United Nations organs within their respective mandates. Resolution 1308 was a path-breaking initiative in generating international awareness and in prompting international action to combat HIV/AIDS beyond international peacekeeping personnel. It followed the path of the defining leadership and roles of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, elevating the debate on the issue to a new level in the international community. The resolution recognized the enormity of the problem, which continued to claim more than 2 million lives globally every year, more than half of them in Africa. It further recognized the implications of the pandemic to international peace and security and, therefore, implied a role for the Council beyond the traditional confines of military-related threats to international peace and security.
If a nation’s state of health was a barometer for its vitality and stability, then the HIV/AIDS pandemic was not only a moral and ethical challenge to humanity, but could also contribute to chronic weakness and instability of nation States and societies. The impact of HIV/AIDS on military establishments could be devastating. The emphasis on combating HIV/AIDS on peacekeepers was well placed and needed to be constantly followed up. The plight of women and children, either as combatants or victims of sexual exploitation from parties to conflicts must also not be forgotten. In that regard, he urged the collaboration of UNAIDS with United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the Division for the Advancement of Women to ensure that measures to combat HIV/AIDS take into account gender dimensions, as well as the children’s interests.
Funding for HIV/AIDS, although increased, remained inadequate, he said. Civilian and military services were often not included in bilateral support, having to rely instead on national budgets. The international response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic had to go beyond generating awareness to changing behaviour to include community-based testing and treatment with antiretroviral drugs. The Council should continue to focus on the international security dimension of the challenge, including peacekeeping operations, while the rest of the United Nations system should focus on the multisectoral preventive and curative response. The combination should constitute a total response strategy in partnership with governments and civil society, including the corporate world, especially the pharmaceutical industry.
CÉSAR MAYORAL (Argentina) said collaboration and cooperation among the different actors of the system, together with the assistance of governments and non-governmental organizations, was indispensable for an integral response to the pandemic. In the fight against HIV/AIDS, it was essential to reinforce prevention mechanisms and awareness without neglecting the treatment of the affected. Those principles were part of resolution 1308. It was fundamental that the recommended practices and lessons learned should be implemented by States in their preparatory programmes for male and female peacekeepers.
The “Blue Helmets” worked in fragile, dangerous and extremely demanding environments, he said. In that framework, HIV/AIDS was yet another risk they had to face. To do so, peacekeeping personnel needed sufficient training, knowledge and solidarity. Measures to eradicate the causes of exploitation and sexual abuse and the fight against HIV/AIDS must be faced jointly. Prioritizing one area should not be at the detriment of another. In that regard, he wondered if coordination between the two strategies constituted a dilemma, or if the two complimented each other.
ZHANG YISHAN (China) said the briefings had helped the Council understand the status of implementation of resolution 1308 during the five past years since that resolution had been adopted. The recommendations in the UNAIDS report needed serious consideration. Over the last five years, the international community had become more concerned with the AIDS issue. AIDS was not only a threat to life and health, but also to the stability and security of countries.
He said the Council had stepped up its attention to the issue of impact of AIDS on peace and security. He welcomed measures undertaken by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations in relation to resolution 1308, in particular the establishment of the Code of Conduct. Those measures were serving to protect the safety of peacekeepers. The UNAIDS had played an important role in coordinating HIV/AIDS prevention in peacekeeping missions.
GHEORGHE DUMITRU (Romania) said HIV/AIDS remained an urgent threat to peace and security. Movements of people resulting from conflict fuelled the spread of HIV/AIDS, but the epidemic itself also caused social and economic crises that could threaten stability and security. Fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS was, therefore, linked to preventing armed conflict. Prevention must be the mainstay of the response. Peacekeepers and uniformed personnel could and must be important contributors in the fight against the spread of the disease. He encouraged the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and UNAIDS to continue to emphasize pre-deployment training, as well as continuous awareness and educational activities during deployment.
More had to be done at the national level to strengthen HIV/AIDS awareness in armed forces, including increased voluntary testing before and during deployment, he said. It was now widely accepted that a nationally owned, multisectoral approach was necessary for tackling HIV/AIDS effectively. Such an approach should include the civil and military security sectors, as well as the health, education and other relevant sectors. In that respect, his Government had approved a national strategy on the monitoring, control and prevention of HIV/AIDS infection. He supported the recommendations made by the UNAIDS report.
JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIÈRE (France) said the fight against HIV/AIDS called for complete vigilance. The fight against AIDS had to be pursued on all fronts. By their nature, peacekeeping operations were deployed in regions where the populations were vulnerable, and also deployed as a matter of urgency. It was, therefore, necessary to ensure that peacekeeping personnel did not pose a health risk, but contributed to the fight against the pandemic. The prestige of peacekeeping efforts entailed action in the area of public health. The raising awareness effort, prevention and follow-up depended on the Secretariat and troop-contributing countries. The efforts of UNAIDS were well adapted to the constraints of peacekeeping operations, dovetailing with the requests of the Council in resolution 1308. Extensive efforts to raise awareness to prevent sexual abuse had made it possible to put in place tough guidelines.
He said France had pursued a tough policy with respect to all of its personnel deployed. Its forces practiced a policy of raising awareness and were subject to screening and monitoring. Such guidelines were implemented without exception, regardless of rank or duty, and only personnel that had passed tests were sent to the field. The fight against the AIDS virus was a daily and long-term effort. The programmes instituted by UNAIDS, the Secretariat and Member States needed to be pursued relentlessly within the framework of the global fight against HIV/AIDS and include both prevention and treatment efforts.
BAYANI S. MERCADO (Philippines) commended the continued efforts of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and UNAIDS to ensure the safety of peacekeepers and the populations they were protecting against HIV/AIDS. He was pleased that UNAIDS had been able to strengthen its partnership with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, particularly through assignment of AIDS advisers to peacekeepers, as well as cooperation with regional organizations. While progress had been made regarding awareness of the disease among uniformed personnel, more needed to be done, he said. One way to address the problem of protecting peacekeepers and population was to ensure training and cooperation between troop-contributing countries and UNAIDS. The troop-contributing countries should encourage troops to participate in voluntary and confidential testing, among other things. AIDS awareness should be a command responsibility.
He said that, despite the fortunate fact that the Philippines had one of the lowest prevalence rates, the disease remained of a major concern to the Government. As the number of peacekeepers it contributed was on the rise, extra efforts were being undertaken to ensure that HIV/AIDS awareness was being addressed in its uniformed services. The country had made pre-deployment screening mandatory for participation in peacekeeping missions, as well as post-deployment screening. His country was finalizing guidelines on HIV/AIDS, as well as regarding sexual exploitation and abuse for its peacekeepers. He supported the recommendations made in the UNAIDS report.
EMYR JONES PARRY (United Kingdom) said the UNAIDS report set out, in stark and honest terms, the particular threat that the AIDS epidemic posed to social stability and security. The United Kingdom unreservedly supported the efforts being made across the United Nations to ensure that substantial and concerted action was taken to tackle the pandemic. There were four broad issues relevant to the links between AIDS and security, namely HIV and AIDS in military and other uniformed services; tackling AIDS in conflict and post-conflict situations and in humanitarian emergencies; AIDS, conflict and gender; and AIDS and fragile States. The report welcomed some encouraging progress. AIDS advisers were now in place in nine major peacekeeping operations and there were focal points in other smaller operations. The report also advocated for a single national monitoring and evaluation framework and the inclusion of the uniformed services in the system. He agreed with that. There were still significant gaps in knowledge. Infection rates among armed forces remained, in many places, a matter of guesswork.
He said a robust mechanism for monitoring impact was essential. In that regard, he welcomed the steps already taken by UNAIDS, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and other stakeholders to assess the impact of their interventions on national commitment, knowledge, attitudes and behaviour. It would be critical for UNAIDS to use that learning to guide their future programming and communication material. Tackling HIV/AIDS among peacekeeping personnel was essential. Efforts must not stop there, however. United Nations peacekeeping operations were in an excellent position to engage with vulnerable communities who had been affected by conflict to ensure that the epidemic did not gain a foothold amongst them. The last five years had seen considerable improvements in knowledge of the epidemic and in the methods being used to tackle it. He welcomed the UNAIDS policy position on intensifying prevention and urged Member States to apply those best practices to both their peacekeeping and national uniformed personnel.
The report also highlighted the importance of high-level political commitment, support and advocacy, he added. The leadership of UNAIDS had helped ensure that the issue of HIV/AIDS remained at the top of the international agenda. The United Kingdom would play its part to provide political commitment, sufficient funding and a coordinated response. The epidemic could not be tackled without the best information on the size and nature of the problem and whether the solutions being used were working. On its own, sexual abuse and exploitation was an issue of great concern. Adding the risks of HIV infection exacerbated the complex nature of the issue. It was essential, therefore, that measures to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse were consistent with United Nations policies to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. The United Kingdom welcomed the recommendation for UNAIDS to strengthen the capacity of regional bodies to engage with AIDS. The gender component in any national plan for AIDS intervention in uniformed services was also of the utmost importance.
OUSSOU EDOUARD AHO-GLELE (Benin) welcomed the broad-based partnerships established to combat AIDS. Resolution 1308 had been a decisive turning point, as it had adopted a systematic approach regarding the spread of the disease among peacekeepers and the populations in which they operated. He welcomed the efforts of UNAIDS in promoting a multidimensional cooperation with States, regional institutions and non-governmental organizations.
He said the statistical data collected in armed forces, particularly in peacekeeping operations, had led to the conclusion that the prevalence rate tended to decline in units with appropriate support and that mortality rates were low where antiretroviral medicines were provided. There were factors that could be objectively controlled, if administrative authority was being exercised. Strict compliance with rules could greatly contribute to preventing the spread of the epidemic. Efforts regarding prevention needed to be strengthened. The fact that only 109 countries were working on programmes for their uniformed personnel demonstrated how much more needed to be done. Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes also needed to be taken into account in the fight against the disease.
The World Fund against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria needed to support government efforts to stem the disease, he said. Furthermore, lessons drawn from outcomes of recent assessments needed the widest possible dissemination. The United Nations policy regarding the issue of AIDS among peacekeepers was appropriate, as it took into account respect for human rights and the fight against stigmatization. A zero tolerance with respect to sexual exploitation and the use of rape as a weapon in armed conflict were of particular importance. He supported the recommendations of the UNAIDS report, in particular the recommendation regarding coordination between peacekeeping and national host-country programmes in the battle against HIV/AIDS.
ELLEN MARGRETHE LØJ (Denmark) said that while there might not be proof that HIV/AIDS posed a direct threat to peace and stability, AIDS was a killer. More than 3 million children, women and men had died from AIDS last year. More would die this year, and the economic, social, cultural and political implications would continue to aggravate. In the worst hit regions in Africa, State institutions were seriously weakened, and the gradual collapse of governance functions illustrated a new form of State collapse, the “fading State”. Fortunately, the world was responding and the comprehensive threat from HIV/AIDS was getting more attention. In his “In Larger Freedom” report, the Secretary-General had called for a new security consensus that included infectious diseases. It was time for the international community to demonstrate its firm commitment. A strong text on HIV/AIDS in the 2005 Summit Declaration would be an important step in the right direction.
In the post-conflict phase, where disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants took place, the risk for HIV/AIDS increased, she said. Evidence indicated that women were most at risk. The Council must address that aspect. The expected establishment of a peacebuilding commission would mark a new beginning for a comprehensive approach to countries emerging from conflict. In the post-conflict phase, the peacebuilding commission must, in its strategies, address the issue and enhance the coordination of the fight against HIV/AIDS. Significant progress had been made in implementing resolution 1308 in the five years of its existence. Strengthening cooperation between the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and UNAIDS and its partners would stimulate further progress. Transmission of HIV in a conflict zone should never be an act of a United Nations peacekeeper.
SHINICHI KITAOKA (Japan) said this month Japan had hosted the International Conference on HIV/AIDS in Asia and the Pacific, where participants had confirmed that the Asian region was also confronted with the threat of HIV/AIDS. His country thought highly of the efforts made by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and UNAIDS to date in implementing resolution 1308. Those efforts would not only reduce the risk of HIV transmission to peacekeepers, but would also have a positive effect on the countries in which peacekeeping actions were taking place.
He said it was regrettable that the goals for 2005 of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS would not be met. Member States should be encouraged to carry out comprehensive strategies that included preparatory training, prevention, counselling and testing, care and treatment, as well as steps to counter discrimination and the stigma often borne by those afflicted with the disease. Japan had spared no effort in fulfilling its obligations in that regard, including providing enhanced training to its peacekeepers. Japan had also increased its pledged contribution to the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria by $500 million.
Council President ADAMANTIOS TH. VASSILAKIS (Greece), speaking in his national capacity, said HIV/AIDS was a worldwide threat, making no distinction of gender, colour or age. AIDS was not only a health problem; it also affected development and security. Despite the efforts made so far, HIV/AIDS remained one of the biggest global threats. More had to be done to develop a long-term strategy to fight the disease and minimize its effects. The seriousness of the problem called for well-coordinated international action. Uniformed personnel were among the most vulnerable groups for a number of reasons. Resolution 1308 recognized that particular vulnerability, encouraging Member States to consider developing, in cooperation with the international community and UNAIDS, effective long-terms strategies for HIV/AIDS education, prevention, voluntary confidential testing, counselling and treatment. Every resource should be used in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Raising awareness was the all important first step. The appointment of HIV/AIDS advisers in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and many missions was a considerable achievement.
Continuing, he welcomed the leading role played by UNAIDS and encouraged the continuous strengthening of its cooperation with interested Member States to further develop strategies and best practices for HIV/AIDS prevention education, testing, counselling and treatment. The UNAIDS might also consider the creation of regional observatories for HIV/AIDS, which would contribute to the implementation of resolution 1308 by registering data for certain regions, contributing at an early stage to the prevention of the disease. The success of any peacekeeping operation greatly depended on the personnel that served in the mission. Troop-contributing countries should ensure the highest possible standards for their people. Voluntary confidential counselling and testing, as well as care and treatment, should be the minimum standard for all peacekeepers. The fight against HIV/AIDS should be continuous and intense, employing every available asset. Regular briefings by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and UNAIDS on progress made would help to strengthen commitment and accountability at the highest levels.
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