19/01/2001
Press Release
SC/6992



Security Council

4259th Meeting (AM & PM)


SECURITY COUNCIL MEETS ON HIV/AIDS AND PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS;

HEARS FROM PEACEKEEPING UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL, UNAIDS


The Security Council held its third meeting on the issue of HIV/AIDS within the past year today, with its focus on HIV/AIDS and peacekeeping operations.  The Council heard from both the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations and the Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), who announced the signing of a cooperation framework agreement between the Department and the Programme.


The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, said that in light of current statistics on HIV/AIDS, the question he asked himself was, what impact did 38,000 to 50,000 peacekeepers deployed worldwide have on an epidemic that had affected tens of million of people?  And what could the Department of Peacekeeping Operations do to make its contribution?  The reality was that a number of peacekeepers were likely to be infected by HIV prior to deployment and that risk did not apply only to peacekeepers who came from countries with high prevalence rates.


He said it was also a fact that some peacekeeping missions were deployed to parts of the world where there was a high incidence of HIV/AIDS.  Furthermore, it was a fact that some peacekeepers were sexually active while on mission.  It was, therefore, undeniable that there was a risk of peacekeepers transmitting HIV/AIDS or contracting it while on Mission.  It also stood to reason that that must have happened already.  The first step in mitigating future risks was to increase the awareness of peacekeepers and those with whom they came into contact locally, about the causes of HIV/AIDS and the ways of preventing its spread.


Peter Piot, Executive Director, UNAIDS, told the Council that only when AIDS was viewed as a fundamental issue of human security could the extent of the destruction it had caused be grasped.  Despite many initiatives, much of the global agenda on AIDS was unfinished, especially the continuing inequities in access to effective care and treatments.  The past year had seen increasing acceptance by governments and industry of the moral legitimacy of equity pricing

–- the idea that poorer countries should be able to buy essential drugs at lower prices.  But, creating mechanisms to implement equitable access had been painfully slow. 


Outlining UNAIDS's undertakings, he said the Programme had intensified the international partnership against AIDS in Africa; conducted regular follow-up with the Council; intensified information flow on international responses to the epidemic; and made specific plans to address HIV/AIDS in emergencies and the uniformed services.  Earlier in the day, he had joined Mr. Guéhenno to sign a cooperation framework agreement between UNAIDS and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.  Under that framework, the two parties would commit to improve the

capacity of peacekeepers to become advocates and actors for the awareness and prevention of HIV transmission.


Anne Kristin Sydnes, Minister of International Development of Norway, said that in Africa the AIDS pandemic was more devastating than war.  AIDS killed

10 times more people than conflict.  AIDS destroyed the social fabric of society and social turmoil was a fertile ground for conflict.  That vicious circle must be broken.  She called for a comprehensive strategy on how to address responsible sexual behaviour and HIV/AIDS in peacekeeping operations and announced that Norway had decided to grant some $1.2 million, in addition to its regular contribution in support of UNAIDS activities, to address the disease in conflict situations.


Richard Holbrooke addressed the Council today for the last time in his capacity as Permanent Representative of the United States.  He said the issue of HIV/AIDS marked one of the great steps forward for the United Nations in the last year.  Today was the third open meeting on HIV/AIDS in a year.  He was pleased that the Council had participated in broadening the definition of security.  Looking back at the last year and the debates on AIDS, he said it was all worth it.  If the Council continued its work on the virus, and the cooperation he had heard mentioned today continued as well, the Council would be doing what it was supposed to do –- save lives.


While other speakers during today's discussion emphasized the role of AIDS in destabilizing societies and contributing to the spread of conflict, as well as the need to take measures to raise peacekeepers' awareness of the disease, Kamalesh Sharma (India) said HIV/AIDS was not and had not been a cause of conflict. 


The Council had expressed its concern at the potential damaging impact of HIV/AIDS on –- and by implication through –- peacekeepers and asked that they be given training on AIDS issues, he said.  His delegation found objectionable the imputation that peacekeepers were either necessarily at risk or carriers of the disease.  India had participated in almost every peacekeeping operation, and certainly in every operation set up by the Organization in Africa.  Not one Indian peacekeeper had either arrived in theatre in Africa with HIV/AIDS or left with it.  Singling out HIV/AIDS awareness for peacekeepers was not only needless, it presented a misleading picture of the problems that peacekeepers faced and must prepare for. 


The President of the Council, S. Jayakumar, Foreign Minister of Singapore, joined many speakers today in praising Ambassador Holbrooke's contribution to the Council's work.  He said it was fitting that his last meeting should be on the topic of HIV/AIDS, an issue to which he had made a sterling contribution by raising international concerns.  That, however, was just one of his many contributions to the United Nations.  He would be missed.  His current stint at the Organization capped a long and distinguished career in diplomacy, which included the establishment of peace in the Balkans.


Statements were also made by the representatives of Bangladesh, Tunisia, United Kingdom, Jamaica, France, Colombia, Ireland, Ukraine, Mauritius, Canada, Sweden, Costa Rica and Nigeria.


The meeting was called to order at 10:45 a.m. and suspended at 1:10 p.m.  It resumed at 3:42 p.m. and adjourned at 5:13 p.m..


Council Work Programme


The Security Council met this morning to discuss HIV/AIDS and international peacekeeping operations.


Statements


JEAN-MARIE GUÉHENNO, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said that, in light of current statistics on HIV/AIDS, the question he asked himself was, what impact did 38,000 to 50,000 peacekeepers deployed worldwide have on an epidemic that had affected tens of million of people?  And what could the Department of Peacekeeping Operations do to make its contribution?  The reality was that a number of peacekeepers were likely to be infected by HIV, prior to deployment, and that the risk did not apply only to peacekeepers who came from countries with high prevalence rates.


He said it was also a fact that some peacekeeping missions were deployed to parts of the world where there was a high incidence of HIV/AIDS.  Furthermore, it was a fact that some peacekeepers were sexually active while on mission.  It was, therefore, undeniable that there was a risk of peacekeepers transmitting HIV/AIDS or contracting it while on mission.  It also stood to reason that it must have happened already.


"We do not yet have the means to quantify the extent of the problem", he stated.  There was generally a lack of reliable and complete data on HIV/AIDS/ in places where peacekeepers were deployed.  There was, thus, a shortage of baseline information against which to judge the impact of a peacekeeping operation on the incidence of HIV/AIDS in the deployment locale.  The development of local capacities in that area was critical, and he appealed to donors to increase their assistance for that purpose.  Furthermore, Member States, and not the United Nations, were responsible for the medical records of their contingents.  National governments did not, as a matter of fact, inform the United Nations that one or more of their personnel had contracted the virus while on mission. 


The Department of Peacekeeping Operations, in cooperation with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), welcomed any information from Member States that would help to verify and understand the extent of the problem better, so that “we might tailor our prevention strategies accordingly”, he said.


Just a few days ago, he continued, the Department put forward a proposal for the United Nations to reimburse contributors for the costs of conducting HIV testing of their personnel, both pre- and post-deployment.  While recognizing that was the prerogative of States to apply their respective policies on testing, "we do, however, strongly recommend voluntary confidential testing and counselling", he said. 


The first step in mitigating future risks was to increase the awareness of peacekeepers, and those with whom they came into contact locally, about the causes of HIV/AIDS and the ways of preventing its spread.  The Training and Evaluation Service in the Department had developed a comprehensive module on medical issues for national-level senior trainers.  Eighty per cent of that module was dedicated to HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention.  That Service, the Department, UNAIDS, and the Civilian Military Alliance to Combat HIV/AIDS had also collaborated in producing a number of publications that were distributed to all participants of the "Train-the-Trainers" courses.  Those publications had been widely distributed, among others, to the United Nations field missions, Member States and training institutions worldwide.


United Nations civilian staff members had also received detailed briefing material on the topic of HIV/AIDS during the course of their pre-deployment orientation, he said.  In addition, the organization's medical personnel in the field received detailed guidelines on medical procedures for handling cases of sexually transmitted diseases, and matters on HIV/AIDS were an important part of that training.  Furthermore, all budgets for new missions now included provisions for training and education programmes on the virus.  The Department was now seeking funding for improving its system and making prophylactics readily available and accessible in all regions.


He said that, even though the Department had been addressing problems related to HIV/AIDS from a training perspective, the reactivation of the Medical Support Unit had helped to put in place a more systematic approach to the issues.  The efforts to fill the positions in the Unit would continue to be treated as a high priority.  He also said that the Department and UNAIDS signed a memorandum of understanding this morning, which further developed and institutionalized the cooperative relationship between the respective organizations.  The memorandum reaffirmed the intent to increase HIV/AIDS awareness programmes in peacekeeping missions, within the overall strategic framework and technical support provided by UNAIDS.


In conclusion, he said, "we must ask ourselves if we are doing enough".  As he stated earlier, much more needed to be done to accurately quantify the extent of the problem and thus quantify the impact of current efforts.  At the same time, the issue was not just about epidemiological research and medical data.  Awareness and heightening initiatives must be evaluated qualitatively in terms of how they impacted the behaviour of personnel in the field.


Awareness and training programmes must not stop at HIV/AIDS, he added.  Some of the same behaviour that increased the chances of transmitting the virus could deeply affect and offend the people “whom we were sent to help”.  Such behaviour could damage the credibility of the national contingent, or an entire operation.  It could also overshadow the exemplary efforts of the majority of United Nations personnel engaged in the pursuit of peacekeeping operations.  Among other things, it was about the practice of respect for the people whom the Organization had been asked to serve, as well as the values the Members of the United Nations had agreed to uphold.


PETER PIOT, Executive Director, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), said the Council had helped transform the way in which AIDS was viewed.  Only when AIDS was viewed as a fundamental issue of human security could the extent of the destruction it had caused be grasped.  He noted that many countries had revamped their AIDS plans, made them more central to decision-making across government, and sought new resources and ways to direct them to the local community level.


Despite many initiatives, much of the global agenda on AIDS was unfinished, especially the continuing inequities in access to effective care and treatments, he said.  The past year had seen increasing acceptance by governments and industry of the moral legitimacy of equity pricing –- the idea that poorer countries should be able to buy essential drugs at lower prices.  But, creating mechanisms to implement equitable access had been painfully slow. 


Meanwhile, the HIV epidemic was advancing, he said.  Sub-Saharan Africa had been the worst affected region.  Infection rates in Central America had been rising significantly, joining the Caribbean as the world’s second most affected region.  In the world’s high-income countries, the decline in AIDS mortality as a consequence of new treatments had levelled off, and new infections persisted at the same rate, even as HIV became more entrenched in poor and ethnic minority populations.


He then outlined initiatives undertaken by UNAIDS.  The Programme had intensified the international partnership against AIDS in Africa; conducted regular follow-up with the Council; intensified information flow on international responses to the epidemic; and made specific plans to address HIV/AIDS in emergencies and the uniformed services.  In that context, he noted that the UNAIDS secretariat had been working with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to focus on the elevated risk of HIV transmission in conflict and humanitarian situations. 


Earlier in the day, he had joined Mr. Guéhenno to sign a cooperation framework agreement between UNAIDS and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.  Under that framework, the two parties would commit to improve the capacity of peacekeepers to become advocates and actors for the awareness and prevention of HIV transmission.  The agreement would support ongoing work in training, development of codes of conduct, voluntary and confidential counselling and testing, and civil-military cooperation, among other things.


It was incumbent on the United Nations to set the highest possible standards for the conduct of troops deployed under its flag, he said.  Every effort must be made to ensure that peacekeepers conducted themselves according to appropriate codes of conduct and had the best possible means to protect and care for themselves and the populations with whom they were in contact.  He noted that he had decided to establish, in conjunction with Mr. Guéhenno, an expert panel to analyze and formulate a comprehensive position on the issue of HIV testing for peacekeepers and humanitarian personnel.


He concluded by saying that when the General Assembly held its special session on AIDS in June, Member States would have a chance to pledge their commitment to the fight.  The session was an opportunity for more than fine words –- it must produce tangible outcomes.


The President of the Council, S. JAYAKUMAR, Foreign Minister of Singapore, and Council, said that members were all aware that today was the last appearance of Richard Holbrooke as the Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations.  It was thus fitting that his last meeting should be on the topic of HIV/AIDS, an issue to which he had made a sterling contribution by raising international concerns.  That, however, was just one of his many contributions to the United Nations.  He would be missed.  His current stint at the Organization capped a long and distinguished career in diplomacy, which included the establishment of peace in the Balkans.

RICHARD HOLBROOKE (United States) said the issue of HIV/AIDS marked one of the great steps forward for the United Nations in the last year.  Today was the third open meeting on HIV/AIDS in a year.  He was pleased that the Council had participated in broadening the definition of security.  Looking back at the last year and the debates on AIDS, he said it was all worth it.  If the Council continued its work on the virus, and the cooperation he had heard today continued as well, the Council would be doing what it was supposed to do –- save lives.


HIV/AIDS was a tough issue.  He believed in transparency of deliberations and maximum involvement, which would include countries other than the 15 members of the Council.  He hoped that in going forward the Council would grow and become more representative.  It was clear that, as horrible as conflicts were, the issue that was common to all was the one being discussed today.  He had often called HIV/AIDS the biggest problem in the world today.  If it was not addressed, it would endure based on its incubation rate and the stigma attached to it.


He said it would be the cruelest of ironies if people who had come to end a war were, in turn, responsible for spreading a deadly disease.  The ideas advanced this morning by UNAIDS and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations were very good and very encouraging.  Transparency was the only way to deal with the disease, because of its unique nature and the way it was spread.


Addressing Council resolution 1308 (2000), he said he hoped that text would become as famous as 242 (1962) and 338 (1973) on the Middle East.  The resolution on HIV/AIDS should not be the end of a process, but the cornerstone for further efforts.  The spreading of the virus was not necessary.  The United States would not send a soldier overseas if he or she tested positive for the disease.  Instead, they were kept at home and treated.  Some countries, however, for social and cultural reasons, did not do that.  Also, in many parts of the world there was a strong stigma attached to being HIV/AIDS positive.  Yet, there was a time in his own country when the stigma of AIDS was as great as in other countries today.  In that context, he stressed the need for de-stigmatization.


He said the compromise made under the terms of resolution 1308 was that United Nations peacekeeping operations would launch a hands-on, aggressive effort in AIDS education.  He had to be frank, however, and state with reluctance that he was not satisfied with the performance of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.  According to resolution 1308, the Department’s mandate was clear -- enhance HIV/AIDS awareness and education.  He found out that only today a start had been made –- six months after adoption of resolution 1308.  


He said the HIV/AIDS awareness and education publications being given out were written five years ago.  There was no mention of resolution 1308, and one needed a magnifying glass to find out what HIV/AIDS did.  While the publications were sexually explicit, they were not user-friendly to the average soldier in the field.  They were technical, wordy and outdated.  Also, without any reference to resolution 1308, how would commanders in the field know that the current responses to HIV/AIDS were mandated responses by the Council?


He said there was also a need to ask the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to not only fill the empty slots in the Medical Unit, but to create a dedicated office to address HIV/AIDS.  Billions were being spent on peacekeeping operations, yet he did not even think that $500,000 had been spent to protect “our people from HIV/AIDS”.  He said that $10 million had been authorized by Congress to be given to the United States Defense Department to help other nations with the testing of the virus.


ANNE KRISTIN SYDNES, Minister of International Development of Norway, said that in Africa the AIDS pandemic was more devastating than war.  AIDS killed

10 times more people than conflict.  AIDS destroyed the social fabric of society, and social turmoil was a fertile ground for conflict.  That vicious circle must be broken. 


She called for a comprehensive strategy on how to address responsible sexual behaviour and HIV/AIDS in peacekeeping operations.  Personnel should adhere to the Code of Conduct for peacekeepers, but other strong preventive measures were also required.  While testing was no panacea, it could help reduce the risk of HIV transmission.  She recommended that all peacekeeping personnel be offered voluntary and confidential counselling and testing, both before and after deployment.  The counselling must be detailed, frank and adapted to local circumstances and sensitivities.


She announced that Norway had decided to grant some $1.2 million, in addition to its regular contribution in support of UNAIDS activities, in addressing the disease in conflict situations.  The grant was part of an overall doubling of the funds Norway had earmarked to combat HIV/AIDS in 2001.  However, money was not enough –- strong leadership and commitment was needed. 


The international community must find new and more effective ways to work together, she said.  Women and girls must be empowered and men must be involved more actively, if the tide was to be turned against the epidemic.  The Council, as in other matters of collective security, should help guide the way.


ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said that with its ramifications extending into the very fabric of society, the long-term social and economic impacts of HIV/AIDS were grim.  With its global reach, the implications on peace and security were ominous.  While Africa was the most affected by AIDS, no one region or country was immune.  AIDS had the potency to spread like wildfire, particularly in the developing parts of the world, if it was not checked.


He stressed a number of elements that must be pursued with earnestness if AIDS was to be effectively combated around the world:  ongoing global efforts must be strengthened; the approach to fighting the disease must be multi-sectoral; new and sustained partnerships of the key stakeholders must be built; and the scientific community should receive full support to speed work on an effective vaccine.  He also underlined the need to make sure effective treatment was made available to people at costs that affected societies could afford, and to make available adequate resources to fight the epidemic.


SAID BEN MUSTAPHA (Tunisia) said the urgency of the situation, especially in Africa, had prompted the international community to make the fight against the pandemic a priority.  His delegation was pleased that important steps had been taken in the past year.  However, he expressed his great worry in the face of the situation’s evolution.  Despite all the initiatives taken, the disease continued to spread throughout the world.  The international community must mobilize additional resources for the fight.

All parties must unite their efforts and devote their energies to resolving the situation, he continued.  International solidarity was the only option, given the complexity of the situation.  He also stressed the importance of making affordable medicine available to all.


The role of uniformed personnel and peacekeeping forces in preventing the spread of the disease was extremely important, he said.  In that regard, he welcomed UNAIDS’s and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations’ efforts to implement resolution 1308 (2000).  The Peacekeeping Department could only fulfil its task if it was given adequate resources, he added.


Sir JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said his Government was making significant new resources available internationally and to the United Nations to tackle the HIV/AIDS epidemic.  He saluted the similar efforts of other countries and urged those that had not yet reviewed their contributions to do so as a matter of priority.  In addition to other efforts, preventing new infection was of the highest importance in slowing the spread of HIV/AIDS and limiting its human and developmental costs. 


The spread of the disease was not just a health issue, he said.  It was also a development issue, an equity and equality issue, and a significant threat to international peace and security.  It, therefore, needed the coordinated response of United Nations bodies, including the Council.  It was clearly right that the international community concern itself with welfare of deployed troops, and with the civilian populations whose vulnerability to the risk of infection could increase significantly during conflict and instability.


M. PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) said resolution 1308 (2000) had recognized the importance of a coordinated response to the pandemic.  The resolution had also expressed keen interest in discussions by relevant United Nations bodies and others, to make progress on access to treatment and care.  She, therefore, expressed her appreciation to Dr. Piot and Mr. Guéhenno for their reports.  In situations of conflict, she noted, HIV/AIDS spread to affect women, children, humanitarian workers and peacekeepers.  No region of the world was immune to the disease and it had a serious impact on the fabric of society.  She thanked Norway for its announcement of support for UNAIDS’s efforts to address the disease in conflict situations. 


AIDS could only be addressed within an integrated framework, she stressed.  Resolution 1308 (2000) had set the stage for developing clear mechanisms.  The role of troop-contributing countries would determine in large part the success of efforts to protect civilians and civilian populations from the disease.  Cooperation with troop-contributing countries in the area of AIDS was, therefore, essential.  Citing the initiatives of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and UNAIDS, she said there could be no substitute for strong partnerships and for a global commitment to enhancing coordination and intensification of national and international efforts to combat the disease.


JEAN DAVID LEVITTE (France) said the international community was faced with the most serious epidemic threat since the Middle Ages.  That threat had pushed back development and threatened security in many countries.  There had been too little progress in the research and development of drugs.  One of the main problems was that the tens of millions who were victims of HIV/AIDS were in the

South, while the drugs that could save lives were in the North.  Such a dichotomy was morally unacceptable.  The duty of the international community was to find a response to that imbalance. 


He said France had proposed holding an international meeting on access to HIV/AIDS treatment from 30 November to 1 December, in Geneva.   The goal of that meeting would be to find lasting solutions to treat those who were infected in the developing world.  That international meeting should constitute the logical conclusion of the next General Assembly special session on HIV/AIDS.  He hoped that the first year of the new millennium would be marked by translation of words into action, in order to save the millions of lives that were at stake.


Mr. HOLBROOKE (United States) said the public nature of today’s meeting and its value were proven by the dramatic statements made today and by the public attention and new agreement between the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and UNAIDS.  He hoped that the debates on HIV/AIDS would usher in new era of cooperation.  The kind of discussion held today, he reiterated, should always be public.


The Council suspended at 1:10 p.m.


When the meeting reconvened at 3:40 p.m., ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) said combating the global HIV/AIDS epidemic would require great efforts by all nations. The global problem posed by the virus presented a daunting challenge to authorities in public health, economic development and national security. 


He said that with 20 million dead to date from the disease, “we are facing the greatest epidemic since the bubonic plague”.  The best strategies against the pandemic were national disease prevention programmes and access to low-cost medication, including vaccines.  AIDS also threatened economic development.  People in poorer countries would not have access to a vaccine or treatment for another 10 years.


RICHARD RYAN (Ireland) said the problem of HIV/AIDS was an extremely complex one.  It was abundantly clear that the success of the struggle against the virus in developing countries depended on the implementation of policies and programmes that dealt with fundamental problems of global poverty and inequity.  There was no other single issue that presented such an enormous challenge to the attainment of international development goals than HIV/AIDS.  In short, the virus was both a cause and a result of high levels of poverty and underdevelopment.  The fight against the disease would never be won unless it was situated within a comprehensive response, which effectively addressed global poverty and disadvantage.


He said there was a very real sense that HIV/AIDS had transformed the development agenda.  The global spread of the virus had highlighted the inadequacies and failures of the international development effort to date.  His country believed that there was no single issue that provided a more compelling reason for strengthening commitment, including the financial commitment of the donor community to international development cooperation, than the global HIV/AIDS crisis.  Ireland had developed a specific HIV/AIDS strategy for its national programme of development cooperation.  The virus was now a core issue cutting across all development programmes supported by his Government. 

The international community must assist poorer countries in providing care and support for people infected by HIV/AIDS, he said.  In particular, efforts must be redoubled in conjunction with the relevant United Nations bodies, industry and other relevant organizations to address the complex issues of access to medicines in developing countries and overcome obstacles in that regard.  Clarity was needed about issues such as tiered pricing, compulsory licensing, parallel imports, and the rights and obligations of both patent holders and signatories to international patent protection agreements.


VALERI KUCHYNSKI (Ukraine) said the past year had demonstrated significant progress in tackling the problem of HIV/AIDS.  He noted that cooperation between various bodies in the United Nations system on the issue was improving, although much still needed to be done.  The signing of the framework agreement was a positive development, and he hoped that its implementation would strengthen the realization of resolution 1308 (2000). 


It was incumbent upon the United Nations to set the highest possible standards for the conduct of troops deployed under its flag, and he welcomed further efforts of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and UNAIDS in fulfilling that task.  He stressed that raising awareness of and prevention of HIV/AIDS was the task of all organs of the United Nations.  In light of statistics on the disease, it was critically important to accelerate the coordinated efforts of the international community in fighting it.


ANUND PRIYAY NEEWOOR (Mauritius) said the AIDS pandemic continued to take a heavy toll on human lives.  The tragedy had afflicted the African continent more severely than anywhere else.  Communities had been wiped out wholesale, and valuable human resources, so essential for the social and economic development of nations, had fallen victim.  He commended all efforts undertaken by the Peacekeeping Department in creating awareness among its personnel on the seriousness of the issue.  However, those efforts must be further intensified and complemented by the initiatives of troop-contributing countries to better prepare their troops.


He noted that there were drugs available today to effectively combat the disease and called for further initiatives, such as the one undertaken by United States President William Clinton, to make them affordable for all in the near future.  He added that international financial organizations needed to develop strategies of their own to assist needy countries in their battle against HIV/AIDS.


PAUL HEINBECKER (Canada) said his delegation had welcomed the early participation of troop contributors in the Council's consultations on resolution 1308 (2000), because HIV/AIDS in the context of peacekeeping affected them directly.  He, therefore, suggested that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and UNAIDS meet with contributors soon to assess progress made in implementing the resolution.  He added that it was important not to demonize peacekeepers.  "No one here believes that they are at the heart of this problem", he said.


No region of the world was unaffected by the pandemic, nor could any region afford to be complacent, he said.  Statistics told of devastation with long-term consequences that paralleled those of conflict and war.  Noting initiatives to combat the disease, he said that the international community could not act in the absence of national efforts.  Canada was quadrupling its spending for international efforts in the fight against the disease over the next five years.  That increase in funding underlined its recognition of the magnitude of the crisis and determination to do its share.


Peace and security were dependent not just on securing borders, but also on securing people against threats to their human security, he said.  It was in that context that the AIDS epidemic posed a fundamental challenge.


PER NORSTRÖM (Sweden) spoke on behalf of the European Union, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta, Turkey, Iceland and Liechtenstein.  He said the Union recognized that there was a vicious circle of HIV/AIDS, poverty and armed conflict.  Movements of people resulting from conflict fuelled the spread of the disease, but the epidemic itself also caused social and economic crises, which could threaten stability and security.  The Council clearly had a role to play –- fighting the disease was directly linked to preventing armed conflict. 


National governments carried the prime responsibility to make sure that peacekeepers were adequately trained and educated, he said.  The Union strongly supported the coordinating work of UNAIDS and urged all United Nations bodies to cooperate fully and at all levels with the Programme.  The entire United Nations system must act on a global scale and in holistic manner.  The Cooperation Framework Agreement presented today was an important step forward, and constituted a clear result of resolution 1308 (2000).


He expressed the Union’s firm commitment to the preparation and holding of the special Assembly session on HIV/AIDS in June.  The session would provide an excellent opportunity to talk frankly, broadly, and in depth about HIV/AIDS, and notably together with representatives of civil society. 


BERND NIEHAUS (Costa Rica) said the HIV/AIDS epidemic had become a large-scale catastrophe, which was even more critical in sub-Saharan Africa where it was dramatically reducing economic growth.  Control of the pandemic required firm but clear measures.  It was not enough to reduce the risk of the disease.  Long-term strategies must promote the widespread use of safe practices.


He said that when one looked at AIDS and peacekeeping personnel, the Security Council had dilemma.  Could it be that some peacekeeping personnel were carriers and were thus endangering the health of civilians in the field?  That was unacceptable.  Or was risky behaviour between peacekeepers and infected civilians taking place?  That was equally unacceptable.  The behaviour of United Nations personnel should always be beyond reproach.  He trusted that troop-contributing countries would with either take proper disciplinary or health measures to prevent either situation from occurring.


He said the authority of the Council to deal with HIV/AIDS was greatly restricted.  The General Assembly, with its wider scope, needed to address the issue more squarely.


ARTHUR C.I. MBANEFO (Nigeria) said the HIV/AIDS pandemic constituted the most immediate challenge to humanity, security and stability in the world.  Among those infected by the virus were some soldiers and civilian personnel who participated in various United Nations peacekeeping operations.  It was also now widely acknowledged that HIV/AIDS had evolved into a development problem.  The disease struck the most productive groups causing massive losses in production, which disrupted the vital sectors of the economy.  "The challenge before us, therefore, is to strengthen the capacities of developing countries, which are most hard hit, by providing the adequate resources, to translate the quantum of political will which exists for the eradication of the disease into action", he said.


He said that in Nigeria preparations for the African Summit on HIV/AIDS were at an advanced stage.  This week, a consensus workshop on the development of a Nigerian national vaccine strategy took place.  His country was one of the first nations with a large population to cross the 5 per cent prevalence rate -- the threshold of an explosive epidemic.  That frightening figure had made it imperative for Nigeria to explore all possible means to prevent the further spread of the virus.  Turning to peacekeeping, he said that, in view of the obvious implications HIV/AIDS had on missions, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations should embark on a massive information campaign to educate United Nations peacekeepers on the pandemic before they were deployed to the field.


He also requested that troop-contributing countries be assisted with both information materials for the enlightenment of their forces and resources to enable their countries to provide adequate facilities for their infected soldiers who served as peacekeepers upon termination of their service.  It would also be appreciated if the Secretariat and the Council, during their consultation with troop contributors, would provide necessary data on the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in a particular locale before troops were deployed.  That would facilitate the taking of preventive measures by troop-contributing countries before the departure of their troops.


KAMALESH SHARMA (India) said India had tried to follow the Council’s reasoning on the issue, because HIV/AIDS was not, and had not been, a cause of conflict.  No country had gone to war because of AIDS.  Resolution 1308 (2000) had, of course, made no such claim, but it did say that the “pandemic is also exacerbated by conditions of violence and instability”.  The evidence did not support that either.


The Council had expressed its concern at the potential damaging impact of HIV/AIDS on -– and by implication through -– peacekeepers, and asked that they be given training on AIDS issues, he said.  His delegation would find unfortunate the imputation that peacekeepers were either necessarily at risk or carriers of the disease.  India had participated in almost every peacekeeping operation, and certainly in every operation set up by the United Nations in Africa.  Not one Indian peacekeeper had either arrived in theatre in Africa with HIV/AIDS or left with it.  Singling out HIV/AIDS awareness for peacekeepers, as the Council had done in recent resolutions, was not only needless, but it presented a misleading picture of the problems that peacekeepers faced and must prepare for.  If peacekeepers were properly trained and disciplined, AIDS awareness would come with it.


He said that the problem of the treatment of AIDS boiled down to one of trade.  A small group of pharmaceutical companies invoked the provisions of the treaty on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) to deny affordable medicines to the vast number of patients, particularly in Africa, who

could not pay what was charged.  Cheaper generic alternatives were available, but that treaty was used to stop their export.  If treatment was denied, societies that had been exemplars of peaceful development could slip into turmoil or conflict.  That was how he understood the reference made by the United States representative to a broadened definition of security which guided the Council’s deliberations.  He called for action to deal with the problem of access to effective treatment.


S. JAYAKUMAR, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Singapore and President of the Security Council, speaking in his national capacity, said there was strong empirical evidence to suggest a nexus between the proliferation of armed conflict and the spread of HIV/AIDS.  Populations ravaged and displaced by war were the most vulnerable, as they often did not have access to adequate medical treatment.  It was precisely in such conditions that peacekeepers could make a difference.  With the correct training in education and prevention of HIV/AIDS, peacekeepers could act as positive agents, through playing an advocacy role in conflict areas.  He expressed support for efforts by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations in ensuring that effective pre-deployment orientation and training on HIV/AIDS was given to all United Nations peacekeepers.


He said the fruits of an effective national strategy to combat HIV/AIDS was plain for all to see.  The successes enjoyed by Uganda and Thailand were well documented.  “Key lessons we can draw include a need for strong political commitment from the highest levels and the taking of a broad-based approach implementing preventive measures”, he said.  It was essential that such “best practices” were disseminated widely to all countries, so that a global rollback

of the pandemic was possible.  Prevention, while crucial, however, was only one side of the coin.  Equally important was the proper care and treatment of the

36 million people afflicted with the virus.  Access to health care should not be separated from prevention.  It was not right that victims in developing countries were denied the same level of health care made available to those from the developed world.  


Mr. GUÉHENNO, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said he was heartened and encouraged by the debate held today.  He thanked the members of the Council for their supportive statements regarding the Department of Peacekeeping Operations’ cooperation with UNAIDS.  Norway’s announcement -- and that of others -– regarding the provision of additional funds provided a tremendous boost to the United Nations system in the fight against AIDS.  He noted that he had not taken any of Ambassador Holbrooke’s remarks personally.  Rather, he welcomed the suggestions that he had made. 


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