chapter  5
20 Pages

HIV/AIDS and National Security

ByColin McInnes

On 10 January 2000, symbolically at its fi rst meeting of the new millennium, the UN Security Council met to discuss the ‘impact of AIDS on peace and security’. This was the fi rst occasion on which the Security Council had discussed a health issue ( UNSC 2000, UNAIDS 2005). In the debate US Vice President Al Gore argued that

Six months later the Security Council passed Resolution 1308, stressing that the HIV/AIDS pandemic, if unchecked, ‘may pose a risk to stability and security’, that its spread was ‘exacerbated by conditions of violence and insecurity’ and expressing concerns over the risks to peacekeepers ( UNSC 200b, p. 2). In January 2001 the Security Council returned to HIV/AIDS, with the British ambassador Sir Jeremy Greenstock arguing that ‘The massive and rapid spread of HIV/AIDS is … a signifi cant threat to international peace and security’. Later that year the General Assembly met in Special Session to discuss the threat of HIV/AIDS. Although the discussion proved more wide ranging than that of the Security Council, the General Assembly’s unanimously agreed Declaration of Commitment on HIV/ AIDS emphasised the need to prevent the disease spreading further amongst uniformed services and international peacekeepers ( United Nations 2001). The UN’s interest in HIV/AIDS as a national security problem has continued through the decade, with much of the work conducted by UNAIDS and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. In December 2004, however, infectious disease (including HIV/AIDS) was highlighted as a new ‘biosecurity’ threat by the High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change established by the Secretary General ( United Nations 2004a, 2004b), while in July 2005 the Security Council once again discussed HIV/AIDS ( United Nations 2005).