The Council is expected to adopt a resolution.
From 8 to 10 June, the UN General Assembly will hold a high-level meeting on HIV/AIDS ten years after the General Assembly met in a special session and issued a Declaration of Commitment on the topic. Gabon has invited heads of state attending the high-level meeting to participate in the Council debate.
The Council first discussed HIV/AIDS in the context of international peace and security in January 2000. This was a UN initiative under the agenda item “the impact of AIDS on peace and security in Africa.” The debate was chaired by then-US Vice President Al Gore as part of a month-long focus by the Council on the special challenges confronting Africa. This was the first time that the Council had identified a health issue as a security threat. Russia and China did not speak.
The UN Secretary-General, the head of the World Bank, the head of the UN Development Programme and the executive director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) participated in the debate, plus 26 non-Council members. The consistent message from speakers was that HIV/AIDS was devastating the countries of sub-Saharan Africa.
Six months later the Council adopted a resolution in July 2000 (resolution 1308), under the agenda item “the responsibility of the Security Council in the maintenance of international peace and security: HIV/AIDS and international peacekeeping operations.” Adoption followed extensive negotiations that started shortly after the January debate.
The preamble of the resolution:
- recognised that the HIV/AIDS pandemic is exacerbated by conditions of violence and instability; and
- stressed that the HIV/AIDS pandemic, if unchecked, might pose a risk to stability and security.
The operative section of the resolution:
- expressed concern at the potential damaging impact of HIV/AIDS on the health of international peacekeepers;
- encouraged all member states to develop effective long-term programmes and strategies for HIV/AIDS education, prevention, testing and treatment for their personnel, as part of their preparation for participating in peacekeeping operations, and to increase international cooperation to develop such programmes; and
- requested the Secretary-General to further develop pre-deployment and ongoing training for peacekeeping personnel on ways to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.
On 25 to 27 June 2001, the General Assembly held a special session on HIV/AIDS. The General Assembly adopted a Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS with the purpose of setting common targets for reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS and alleviating its impact. According to the Secretary-General, the declaration had five priorities:
- ensuring people everywhere know how to avoid infection;
- stopping the transmission of HIV from mother to child;
- providing treatment to all infected;
- redoubling the search for a vaccine; and
- caring for all those whose lives had been devastated by AIDS, particularly orphans.
In 2005 the Security Council held another debate on HIV/AIDS and international peacekeeping operations and issued a presidential statement (S/PRST/2005/33) highlighting how resolution 1308 had been implemented in peacekeeping operations. This statement also recognised that UN peacekeeping personnel can be important contributors to the response to HIV/AIDS, particularly for vulnerable communities in post-conflict areas, and encouraged further cooperation between relevant UN entities within integrated peacekeeping operations.
The key issue for the Council in June is defining the appropriate scope of the Council’s involvement in this issue, given that the General Assembly is also focused at a high level. A related issue is the need to identify the specific security dimensions of the problem of HIV/AIDS.
A second issue is to assess the impact in this area of peacekeeping operations and their ongoing role in addressing the issue in the conflict-affected areas in which they operate.
A further issue is whether to include wider political statements on the risks to stability from HIV/AIDS.
- adopt a resolution that essentially repeats the agreed language in resolution 1308 and S/PRST/2005/33;
- include language reflecting an updated conceptual approach to HIV/AIDS that has developed over the last ten years and use more modern terminology and scientific concepts;
- broaden the focus of the resolution from just the risk to and from peacekeepers to the potential positive role of peacekeepers in helping others infected with HIV/AIDS or in prevention programmes, expanding upon language from the 2005 presidential statement;
- highlight in the resolution the relevance of HIV/AIDS to other key security challenges that the Council regularly considers, such as sexual violence in conflict; or
- identify in the resolution the specific programmes of integrated peacekeeping missions where increased attention to HIV/AIDS issues is warranted, such as in designing and implementing demobilisation, disarmament and reintegration programmes; security sector reform programmes (including prisons management); gender equality and human rights monitoring arrangements; and assistance to victims of sexual violence.
Many Council members recall that resolution 1308 was the best outcome possible for the Council at that time, given the differences between members that existed in 2000 on the spread of HIV/AIDS. Many Council members seem to feel that a decade later the time is ripe to update resolution 1308, both in terms of its terminology and scope. Many members seem to believe that this debate and resolution could carry forward some of the concepts on the positive role of peacekeepers in remote, post-conflict communities which have been discussed in recent peacebuilding debates, such as the open debate in February on peacebuilding and development.
Many current Council members are leaders in global efforts to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. South Africa has been a strong advocate in Africa for improving developing countries’ access to treatment options. It has also been in the vanguard of developing treatment programmes in its armed services. Brazil is also recognised as a regional leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Latin America. There are also several major troop contributors on the Council, such as India and Nigeria, who seem likely to pay close attention to the importance of implementing and updating resolution 1308.
It should be noted that South Africa has the highest prevalence of HIV infection in the world, followed by Nigeria.
The US welcomes the fact that Gabon chose to pursue this topic in its presidency, given the leadership role the US played in 2000 and the decade since. The US and EU member states have well-developed policies regarding HIV/AIDS, particularly with respect to partnerships with developing countries, to halt the spread of HIV and alleviate the effects for those living with the disease.
Despite support for the topic itself, there may still be resistance based upon concerns about further expanding the concept of threats to international peace and security outside traditional armed conflicts.
Security Council Resolution
Security Council Meeting Records