AIDS NOW CORE ISSUE AT UN SECURITY COUNCIL. UN Body Discusses Epidemic for Fourth Time in a Year

The fourth meeting of the United Nations Security Council on the issue of HIV/AIDS in a year signals that the epidemic's threat to peace and security is as real as ever. "The simple fact that the Security Council regards AIDS as a significant problem sends a powerful message: AIDS is a serious matter for the global community," said Dr Peter Piot, Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), speaking to the Council today.
Pressrelease: New York, 19 January 2001 Today's public meeting was convened to follow-up on UN Security Council Resolution 1308, adopted six months ago to intensify the fight against AIDS - calling on countries to address HIV/AIDS in the context of human security. The Resolution targets armed forces and peacekeepers for education, training and prevention efforts, and urges voluntary and confidential HIV/AIDS counselling and testing for all national uniformed forces, especially troops deployed internationally. In Africa, where many countries suffer conflict, the epidemic constitutes a threat to human security. "By overwhelming Africa's health and social services, by creating millions of orphans, and by decimating health workers and teachers, AIDS is causing social and economic crises which in turn threaten political stability," Dr Piot said. Uniformed services, including military personnel and the police, consistently rank among the population groups most affected by AIDS. Just ahead of the Security Council meeting, UNAIDS and the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) signed an agreement to collaborate on HIV/AIDS prevention and care in peacekeeping operations. The cooperation framework targets peacekeeping personnel and others affected by peacekeeping operations, notably humanitarian workers and vulnerable populations, and seeks to train peacekeepers to become advocates for HIV/AIDS prevention and care. A number of activities have already taken place in relation to Resolution 1308. Field missions have been undertaken to Ethiopia and Eritrea, East Timor and Burundi, and discussions have been held with DPKO and UNAIDS partners to focus on how conflict situations raise the risk of HIV infection. Efforts to implement UN Resolution 1308 also received a boost from the government of Norway who today announced it would contribute NOK 10 million (approximately US$ 1 million) to help strengthen the national and regional capacity needed to address HIV/AIDS in conflict situations -- particularly in those countries providing peacekeepers. "Norway's contribution will help us to move fast at the regional level to break the nexus between conflict and HIV transmission," Dr Piot said. Dr Piot also brought the Security Council up to date on new developments since its first historic meeting on AIDS on 10 January 2000. "We have intensified the International Partnership against AIDS in Africa. Its Framework for Action, with specific milestones, has been widely endorsed, including by the Organization of African Unity," Dr Piot said. He also underscored progress in other initiatives, including updated epidemiological information, intensified activities to address HIV/AIDS in emergencies, and debt relief for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries - which has already resulted in some African countries allocating US$ 20 million more for AIDS this year. Dr Piot congratulated Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke, outgoing US Permanent Representative to the United Nations, for having firmly and permanently entrenched the issue of AIDS on the Security Council's agenda. "I am honoured to pay tribute to Ambassador Holbrooke for being a leading advocate on HIV/AIDS. I can think of no better legacy to leave the world than to have ensured that the United Nations Security Council now regards support for the global fight against AIDS as among its core business." "While awareness and advocacy advance, however, so too does the epidemic," Dr Piot warned. "Africa continues to be the hardest hit, but we must not lose sight of the epidemic's impact elsewhere, including its rapid spread in parts of Asia, Central America and Eastern Europe, as well as stalled efforts in high-income countries.