The situation in Africa The impact of AIDS on peace and security in Africa
|(The Presidency changes each month to the next member in alphabetical order)|
|Mr. Qin Huasun
|Mr. van Walsum
|Sir Jeremy Greenstock
Before I call on the next speaker on my list, I would like to ask members, now that the Ministers have all had their say, to consider shortening their statements, especially — as was said earlier by the Ambassador of France — when they repeat statistics that we have already heard.
You have invited us, Mr. President, to be brief and to the point in our statements and to concentrate on what Member States or the international community as a whole can do to address the devastating impact of AIDS in Africa. We will of course comply with your wish, but we do so with some hesitation, for anyone who speaks about AIDS in Africa feels an urge to show that he is aware of the almost unimaginable scale of this humanitarian emergency. To that end, he is tempted to highlight at least some of the mind-boggling statistics about the impact of AIDS in making his own contribution to the debate.
But we agree with you, Sir, that after the statements we have just heard from the Secretary-General, from Vice-President Gore, from World Bank President Wolfensohn, from United Nations Development Programme Administrator Malloch Brown, from Executive Director Piot of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and from the Ministers of Health of Namibia, Uganda and Zimbabwe, there is really no need for a further description of the unspeakable tragedy that afflicts Africa. In that respect virtually everything has been said, not only today but also quite recently during the meeting on the International Partnership against AIDS in Africa. Yet when we ask ourselves what the Security Council can do — and we understand this is the first question you want us to address — we are inclined to conclude that strengthening awareness has to be our primary objective.
My delegation does not need to be convinced that the impact of AIDS is a legitimate subject for an open meeting of the Security Council. The interface between AIDS and conflict in Africa seems to be obvious. AIDS is a health problem, but it is one that devastates whole economies, overwhelms entire public health systems and ultimately tends to destroy the very fabric of complete societies. As such it is responsible for an unprecedented degree of gloom and despair, which in itself is one of the most virulent seeds of conflict.
Conversely, conflicts clearly have an accelerating effect on the spread of AIDS. Soldiers and displaced civilians on the move are important sources of HIV dissemination, and in areas of conflict the fight against HIV/AIDS is particularly difficult. According to a UNAIDS report, the degree of HIV infection among military personnel may well be two to five times higher than that of the civilian population. Therefore, if the Security Council is expected to contribute to increased awareness, it might usefully concentrate on this particular aspect of the problem and call on all African States to demonstrate their commitment to combating AIDS by focusing on the armed forces under their command. Let the awareness and the responsibility and the discipline start with the military.
The Netherlands will continue to contribute to the battle against AIDS — especially in Africa — at at least the current level. According to reports from UNAIDS and the Harvard AIDS Institute, the Netherlands is the second largest donor worldwide in both absolute terms and on a per capita basis. Our contributions are made available both in a multilateral and in a bilateral context. Bilateral AIDS programmes exist with Tanzania, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau and Zambia. In addition, an AIDS component is integrated into basic health care activities supported by the Netherlands.
It is understood that the Netherlands subscribes to the statement the representative of Portugal will deliver on behalf of the European Union.
As this is my first statement in the Security Council, I should like to extend my greetings to you, Mr. President, and to all the members of the Council, the Secretary-General and the staff of the Secretariat, who so efficiently contribute to the work of the most important body responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security.
Argentina has for some time maintained that, with the end of the cold war, it has become easier to recognize the fact that threats to international peace and security are not exclusively related to the threat or the use of force, but that they instead encompass a broader criterion that has been called human security. I acknowledge that this concept is still evolving and that it is not yet clearly defined.
We have also said that peace and development are two sides of the same coin. There can be no lasting peace where the basic conditions for subsistence, education and health are not guaranteed for the inhabitants.
It is in this framework linking the concepts of human security, peace and development that we believe the serious issue of AIDS should be considered as a factor leading to situations that have an effect on international security. In this regard, we consider it appropriate to recall that His Holiness Pope Paul VI, in his 1967 encyclical on the development of peoples entitled Populorum Progressio, stated that development was the new name of peace.
We have no doubt that AIDS erodes the potential for human, social and economic development — elements that are at the root of most current conflicts, both of international conflicts and of domestic ones with international repercussions.
The magnitude of the AIDS problem in Africa is evidenced by the fact that the question is being taken up in an open meeting of the Security Council, with the participation of the Vice-President of the United States of America, Mr. Al Gore, and of the President of the World Bank, James Wolfensohn, for the first time in the history of the Council, as well as by the high-level participation of Members of the Organization in the debate.
The actions that are taken, or not taken, over the next five years in combating AIDS will be decisive for the future of the countries of sub-Saharan Africa and indeed that of all humankind. In this connection, we would venture to make the following suggestions as to measures that should be taken.
In the view of the Republic of Argentina, the first step should be to recognize that AIDS is not exclusively a health problem but also affects development and, consequently, security — a key issue in the elaboration of national and regional policies. We believe that combating AIDS should be a part of national development agendas along with issues relating to combating illiteracy, hunger and infant malnutrition.
The second step, we believe, should be increasing financial assistance to this end. At the present time the international community is allocating inadequate resources to programmes to combat AIDS. The level of international response must be commensurate with the spread of the epidemic, which is increasing three times faster than the resources allocated to control it. Likewise, an increase in official development assistance, which has been declining in recent years, is necessary. This is the principal responsibility of those that have more resources — in other words, the developed countries.
In this context, in the spirit of the G-8 summit held in Cologne in June 1999, we should consider reducing the debt of the African countries most seriously affected by AIDS and least able to muster the resources to combat it. We also believe that the private sector has an important part to play in mobilizing resources.
The third step should be more active participation by civil society, including non-governmental organizations.
Fourthly, we believe that insofar as is possible we should increase cooperation among international organizations. In this respect, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization, the United Nations Development Programme and the World Bank, inter alia, all do important work in the area of prevention, dissemination of information, education, and technical and financial assistance. This work should continue, intensify and, ultimately, be coordinated with the work of regional organizations.
Fifthly, we believe it necessary to intensify the coordination among international organizations, non-governmental organizations and governmental authorities.
Lastly, we cannot fail to mention the situation of AIDS orphans, which, as UNICEF has pointed out, is indeed a unique tragedy in both its scope and nature. It deserves priority attention and an emergency response.
We have just heard the situation described most eloquently. We believe that the United Nations must restate its commitment to tackle this epidemic, which is particularly serious in Africa, where it affects one out of four people, but which also exists throughout the world, including Latin American and the Caribbean, as was demonstrated by the data that was presented by the United Nations Development Programme Administrator, Mr. Malloch Brown.
I cannot conclude my statement without quoting the Secretary-General’s words of 6 December 1999:
“We must make the struggle against AIDS a true priority in our work throughout Africa, on an equal footing with our work for peace and security.” (SG/SM/7247, p. 3)
The Republic of Argentina fully agrees with that statement and undertakes to provide its fullest cooperation.
Lastly, I must thank, on behalf of our delegation, the delegation of the United States of America for having brought such an important issue to the Council for discussion.
I thank the representative of Argentina for his kind words about our presentation and for his presence here today.
The Canadian delegation is very appreciative of the briefings provided by the Secretary-General, Mr. Wolfensohn, Mr. Malloch Brown and Dr. Peter Piot on ongoing efforts to address the unfolding tragedy of AIDS in Africa. We also very much welcome the profile given this crucial problem by the participation of Vice-President Gore in this important meeting of the Security Council. Canada has consistently argued that the Council must broaden its definition of security to include non-traditional threats, especially those which affect human security. We commend you, Mr. President, and the American delegation for giving the Security Council the opportunity to consider the AIDS issue in the context of peace and security in Africa. We also wish to commend the work of Ambassador Greenstock of the United Kingdom delegation, focused during December on difficult issues of peace and security in Africa.
The AIDS pandemic represents a formidable threat to the development of government institutions, economic growth, political stability and human security in several parts of the world. The figures that we heard this morning show that in Africa this pandemic is more murderous than war. The reality is that a third, if not half, of Africans employed in the sectors of health, education, and security and in the civil service are likely to die of AIDS over the next five to 10 years. This is not just a human tragedy but also a real threat to peace and stability in the countries affected, which are already confronting many other challenges. The efforts of African Governments to stem the AIDS tide are hampered by civil strife, refugee flows, rapid urbanization and poverty, each of which, in turn, contributes to the further spread of HIV infection and AIDS.
We must also consider the pandemic’s impact on the ability of African States to continue to play their part in several peacekeeping operations around the world and in Africa itself. In sub-Saharan Africa, Ministries of Defence report averages of 20 to 40 per cent HIV positivity within their armed services. As the disease progresses, this will mean a loss of continuity at command level and within the ranks of the army, and a reduction in the effectiveness of prior peacekeeping training. Furthermore, in line with the guidance provided by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, all peacekeepers, international observers and relief aid workers need to fully understand, both personally and professionally, the risks associated with inappropriate sexual behaviour, and this is usually what is involved.
Canada has been involved in the international fight against AIDS since 1987. Total Canadian funding in support of HIV/AIDS projects in developing countries reached $22 million in 1999 alone. Canada’s focus has very much been on Africa, with four of five major projects on that continent dealing with the promotion of sexual health, HIV/AIDS control and prevention, the strengthening of primary health-care capacity and addressing the special needs of women and vulnerable groups.
Last September, Carol Bellamy spoke of the need to break the conspiracy of silence surrounding AIDS as an important step in addressing the problem in Africa. We congratulate Uganda and its Minister; indeed, that country has set an example by reversing this devastating trend. We also welcome the importance given to the issue by President Moi of Kenya and President Mkapa of Tanzania in their recent millennium addresses.
Like Secretary-General Kofi Annan, we also welcome the courageous decisions of most African Governments in recognizing that the first battle to be won in the war against HIV/AIDS is to break the silence and remove the stigma surrounding it. Dr. Piot reminded us this morning that efforts already taken have yielded positive results. Clearly, strong political commitment and a united response on the part of Africans themselves will go a long way in mitigating the impact of AIDS over the short term, stemming the disease’s growth over the medium term and, hopefully, over the longer term working towards its complete eradication.
It is equally clear that Africa cannot face this problem alone. Canada is one of many countries which has joined efforts with non-governmental and multilateral organizations to assist Africans in their fight against AIDS. The Secretary-General’s launch of the International Partnership against AIDS in Africa last December is a welcome development which should help ensure a coordinated approach involving national Governments, private enterprise and multilateral agencies.
Only two decades after the breakout of HIV/AIDS, important progress has been made in understanding the virus and the relationship between HIV/AIDS and human development. AIDS is no longer a single health problem. It has become a complex, multifaceted issue for development.
The pervasiveness of conflict in Africa has been a key stumbling block to development. War steals resources. Therefore, the first and most obvious way the Council can contribute to Africa’s fight against AIDS is to intensify its engagement in preventing and resolving conflict on that continent.
For its part, Canada pledges to support African Governments as they take the lead in generating their own national strategic plans to combat HIV/AIDS, to support communities and community groups in their responses to HIV/AIDS, to establish priorities in programming to ensure optimal impact and cost effective interventions, and to promote sustainable human development through a broad approach including basic human needs — basic education, primary health care and gender equity.
At your request, Mr. President, I shall go straight to the subject without the usual complimentary remarks to Vice-President Gore, to you, Sir, and to Ambassador Greenstock, which have been well expressed by previous speakers with which my delegation associates itself.
We are all too familiar with the AIDS statistics affecting Africa. Many of these compelling facts have been cited and highlighted by virtually all of the distinguished speakers during this morning’s session. I will therefore not repeat them here. Suffice to say the AIDS epidemic in Africa is indeed a pandemic affecting millions of people, many of whom have succumbed to this terrible disease and many still living but barely surviving. Many more will be infected in the years to come until and unless humanity finds a way to stop the spread of the pandemic once and for all.
Clearly, the impact of AIDS on Africa has been particularly debilitating. In the words of the Secretary-General,
“the AIDS pandemic — unexpected, unexplained, unspeakably cruel — presents us, especially Africa, with a tragedy we can barely comprehend, let alone manage”.
Its effects are of tragic proportions, destroying the very fabric of society. Over the last two decades, since it first reared its head, it has become not just a public health problem, but a problem with socio-economic and, increasingly, security dimensions. It presents an enormous challenge to African Governments in their developmental efforts as the best of national planning goes awry in the face of the devastating effects of the disease, especially when valuable human capital trained at great cost falls victim to the disease.
It is obvious that the AIDS issue is no longer an essentially African problem. It has become a global problem affecting many regions of the world, including my own region of Asia, where it is also becoming an issue of major concern. Indeed, very few regions have been spared its pernicious effects, although the developing countries bear the greatest burden on account of their lack of capacity to contain the HIV/AIDS virus. Therefore, it is fitting and proper that the fight against AIDS be mounted on a global scale, as that is the only way the scourge could conceivably be contained and eventually stamped out. For this purpose, there is a need to launch a concerted and vigorous global campaign against HIV/AIDS involving a multipronged approach, involving publicity to sensitize both Governments and publics, care and education at every level of society, policy coordination within and between Governments, medical research, and greater involvement of civil society and the private sector.
In this regard, the first ever meeting on international partnerships against HIV/AIDS in Africa, held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on 6 December 1999, was welcome and timely. In his address during that meeting Secretary-General Kofi Annan, inter alia, underscored a number of priority objectives, namely, to break the conspiracy of silence at every level, to meet the needs of those already infected and their families, to make effective treatment available at affordable prices to Africans, to speed up the work of developing a vaccine and to use all available means to halt the spread of the disease.
The meeting on international partnerships was the first major step in the right direction in galvanizing and coordinating global action towards addressing this scourge of our generation. It was an action-oriented meeting. The United Nations and other agencies involved, namely the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and its cosponsors, must be commended for this initiative in focusing on the impact of AIDS in Africa. We wished this meeting could have been organized much earlier so that the AIDS issue in Africa could have been addressed much sooner, but late is better than never. There should be concrete follow-up actions in the coming months, and in this regard my delegation looks forward to an agreed plan of action expected to be finalized in May this year.
In our efforts to galvanizing global action to combat the HIV/AIDS virus worldwide, beginning with Africa as being the most seriously affected region, we should not lose sight of the fact that while the virus knows no boundaries and attacks indiscriminately, it is the poorer developing countries that are most traumatized by the disease. Therefore there is a need for the wealthier developed countries — out of enlightened self-interest, if not pure altruism — to make available more resources to ameliorate the effects of the disease in the developing countries, particularly the affected African countries.
Many of the African countries, burdened with crippling debts, simply do not have the resources to carry out effective prevention programmes or to provide treatment to their people infected by HIV, as the drugs necessary for the treatment are exorbitantly expensive. This is where developed countries can and should play a major and constructive role. They can, through their economic aid programmes, make available the necessary drugs to African countries. More importantly, they should pressure their pharmaceutical companies to reduce the prices of these drugs or allow compulsory licensing of life-saving drugs.
Indeed, at the International Congress on AIDS in the Asia-Pacific region held recently in Kuala Lumpur, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad, drew attention to the fact that compulsory licensing was allowed under the World Trade Organization but that, regrettably, certain countries had aligned themselves with the giant pharmaceutical companies, thereby denying developing countries the right to produce cheaper drugs to save the lives of their people. While it is true that pharmaceutical companies have made heavy investments in research, they should not try to recoup their costs and reap profits at the expense of the sufferings of the poor. As Prime Minister Mahathir said, it is regrettable that profit is taking precedent over people’s lives. He felt that the developed countries, with their unprecedented wealth, could do more to reduce the burden of the poor countries in this regard.
We must not only do more in addressing the AIDS epidemic; we must do it better. The United Nations system, with its global mission of protecting and promoting human rights, peace and security, is uniquely placed to provide assistance on very often difficult policy matters relating to AIDS. The role of the United Nations in combating AIDS is particularly pertinent, for, after all, two of the most fundamental of human rights are the right to life and health.
It is regrettable that when the world first learned about HIV/AIDS infections, we underestimated the breadth of the deadly path it would cut through the world. Even as we are gradually coming to grips with it, we are still underestimating the impact of the epidemic. And, unfortunately, we are also underestimating our ability or capacity to stop it — or at least to slow it down, as evidenced by some of the success stories we have heard this morning, particularly regarding Uganda. We look forward to hearing further success stories in the coming months and years.
In Africa, comparisons with the medieval bubonic plague are not misplaced. To prevent an even greater catastrophe, we need to work together — Governments, businesses, universities, non-governmental organizations, religious organizations and the media — to do more, to do it better and to do it now. Yes, new resources will be required. But the cost of action will certainly be less than the cost of inaction. In this regard, my delegation commends the important package of initiatives that the United States intends to take, as announced by Vice-President Gore in his statement this morning.
We welcome these initiatives as a manifestation of enlightened leadership on the part of the most influential member of the international community. We trust these initiatives will be vigorously pursued and emulated by other developed countries that have not yet done so. Indeed, nothing could be more appropriate and more welcome than for the developed countries, led by the United States, to launch a kind of Marshall Plan for Africa to assist the continent in combating this scourge.
I wish to congratulate you, Mr. President, on organizing this meeting of the Council on the impact of AIDS in Africa and its consequences for regional peace and security, which has dramatized the concerns of the international community on this important subject. It is a timely wake-up call for the international community and reinforces the efforts of the General Assembly and other organs of the United Nations, as well as that of the Secretary-General.
I thank the Ambassador of Malaysia for his important comments and kind words and for his support in this innovative concept.
The representative of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland set the tone for this month’s focus on Africa by his enlightened and inspired leadership of the Security Council in the last month of the last century.
I am setting aside my speech and will just make one or two extempore remarks. First of all, I applaud your initiative, because you have hit on the first thing we can do and are doing, which is to give this subject profile. Our thanks go to Vice-President Gore for doing that in spades. It needs profile, because not all African Governments are even acknowledging that they have got a problem. Let us applaud those who are — such as Uganda and Senegal for actually starting efficient programmes on AIDS, and several other countries whose leaders are now beginning to acknowledge that something needs to be done. Mozambique, Kenya, Swaziland, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia are all clearly beginning to do that; but there are many others that are not. I think they need to report this meeting and our interest in this subject, as a security subject, to begin to get behaviour to change, as the Ugandan Minister told us so clearly.
We ourselves, I think, are adding to the de-stigmatization of AIDS by having this meeting. But it has got to be taken up by Africans. The fact is that the prevalence of AIDS in Africa is a symbol of the comparative failure of development, security and education in Africa. That is an African failure, and it is an international failure. It is not just one or the other. It is the failure of both Africans and non-Africans. We have got to inspire a different approach.
The second thing that is needed, apart from profile, is resources. I think there is nothing that has been said today in detail that is more important than the American announcement on resources, but let us all put in our own bit where we have done something. Last January, the United Kingdom started a £100 million programme over a three-year period on global AIDS. My Prime Minister announced that £23 million of that would go to Africa last month. Let us see what this money is going to be spent on. It is going to be spent in the following way: £40 million worth to research a vaccine; £7.5 million for a regional AIDS initiative focused on prevention activities with the Southern African Development Community (SADC), in southern Africa, and more than £1 million going to train volunteers to go out into African countries and spread the message.
We have a £35 million health programme with Malawi that is focusing on sexual and reproductive health assistance programmes, and many other detailed programmes with individual countries, including the distribution of condoms. These programmes are beginning to attack the actual problem we are facing.
Mr. President, now I want to ask you a question: how are we going to follow this up? It is all very well to produce rhetoric, but, as I said earlier, we have done the main work of today in the fact of having this meeting, and rhetoric is not going to help. The Security Council is only one element of this. I hope that before your month is over, you will have organized a systematic cooperation between the Security Council and other organs of the United Nations that takes this subject forward. Otherwise, we will stop with the words that we produced today.
Secondly, the United Nations — and the Secretary-General must lead here — must have a system and a structure for cooperation with other international institutions and with Governments — and, as people have said, with civil society. How is that going to happen? For a start, I have mentioned one or two things that the United Kingdom is doing. Is there going to be a register or a clearing house of what programmes are being done, in which countries, to what end? Otherwise, we will start duplicating, or we will leave great gaps in countries that desperately need help. So can we have a register or a clearing house that exemplifies the coordination that we are now all calling for?
Thirdly, we need leadership on this. That leadership has got to come partly from the United Nations, from the Secretary-General and from the Security Council, from the Economic and Social Council, from the World Health Organization, from the World Bank and others. The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) can perhaps bring this together. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) can play its part.
The UNAIDS analysis of where we have got to with the AIDS catastrophe in Africa was an excellent piece of work. No further analysis is needed today. Where is this leading? And what kind of role is the Security Council going to play?
What I think we need has already been said; but let us say it again. It is five things: political will — that means also profile; resources; capacity on the ground so that programmes are well led and get to the points that are necessary with expertise; partnership and coordination; and research — we have got to have a vaccine.
Every developed country should be able to say publicly what money it is putting into an AIDS programme — and an AIDS programme in Africa. And then we might be getting somewhere.
The representative of the United Kingdom has asked a series of questions that we cannot leave hanging in the air. I hope future speakers will address these questions.
The next speaker is the Ambassador of Tunisia, but before calling on him, I would like to ask Dr. Piot if he would respond to one specific point that Ambassador Greenstock raised, and that is the question of a clearing house. Does one now exist? Do you have a plan? Could you give us all just a very precise response to that specific question?
Yes, actually, this is one of our major functions and roles. Such a clearing house exists on a regional basis and in countries. The theme groups on HIV/AIDS started doing that within the United Nations system four years ago. Now they are reaching out; bilateral donors, other actors, are joining these groups, and one of the first functions is information exchange. That is also happening at the continental level; and it is something that is available partly through web sites as well as through other means.
What I think will be needed is to push that through, because, first of all, not every body has included HIV in its development portfolio; and secondly, we also have to do a better job when it comes to the private sector and non-governmental organizations — what they are actually taking on. The basis for that certainly exists and has to be improved. I think this debate will greatly help that.
I would simply request Dr. Piot — bearing in mind that we have never discussed this issue before, but that it may, as many speakers have suggested, remain open for continuation — perhaps to circulate to the members of the Security Council responses in writing to some of the specifics, such as that one, in order to further illuminate us, as I am sure he already does with the Economic and Social Council.
Although you, Sir, have asked us to refrain from conveying expressions of admiration and gratitude, as well as statistical analyses, I cannot help but express, albeit briefly, our admiration and gratitude to your friendly country for this important initiative, which reflects the international community’s interest in the situation in Africa and highlights the disastrous impact of HIV/AIDS on peace and security in Africa. We must also thank the Secretary-General and those who spoke this morning.
The very fact that the Security Council is addressing the issue of HIV/AIDS is in itself a positive step that will help increase international public awareness of the dangers of this epidemic and of the need to adopt a global strategy, mentioned repeatedly this morning, to combat HIV/AIDS in the context of coordination and complementarity and through the agency of competent structures and organizations. We know that poverty, hunger, debt and natural disasters, along with HIV/AIDS, undermine African communities and destabilize African societies. This is likely to lead to the expansion of conflicts and crises. Tunisia hopes that all these problems will be taken up by the international community with the same degree of interest.
I shall not repeat the frightening statistics cited by speakers this morning, although they clearly show that HIV/AIDS is a major threat and that we must all act to halt this crisis, which has touched countless people, especially in Africa, and has jeopardized their basic right to life. We feel that the enormous amounts of money and efforts aimed at achieving peace, security and development can be fully realized only if all the parties involved act with resolve and allocate sufficient resources to control this scourge. Thus, we reiterate the need for the social commitment of all governmental and non-governmental institutions and of civil society in order to lift the veil of silence surrounding this disease and to prevent discrimination in treating its victims. We would urge the international community to support the commitment of African States to combat this epidemic.
As an African country, Tunisia cannot but welcome the courageous initiatives taken by brotherly African countries that have adopted effective measures for prevention and awareness and borne the economic and social burdens of HIV/AIDS. We welcome the positive achievements of some of these countries, which deserve support and encouragement at the national level.
At the continental level, we must recall that this question was accorded early interest by African leaders. The 1992 Dakar summit of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) adopted a declaration on HIV/AIDS, through which all the leaders of Africa committed themselves to mobilizing all the resources necessary to combat and prioritize this disease. The Tunis summit of 1994 adopted a resolution recommending that the Secretary-General of the OAU create a special mechanism to follow up and ensure the implementation of the Dakar declaration.
At Tunis, the OAU studied this question closely and the President of the Republic of Tunisia sent a message to the international community that focused on three factors: the need to ensure international cooperation; the need to strengthen international commitment and African efforts; and the need to support scientific research and to make it available to all countries. At the 1998 Ouagadougou summit, the OAU established a fund to combat HIV/AIDS and its Council of Ministers, at a meeting held in Algeria last year, adopted a project for cooperation between the OAU and programmes of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) to ease the suffering of those afflicted.
The United Nations role in coordinating and establishing intervention priorities remains important and desirable if we are to achieve the anticipated goals. The initiative of the International Partnership against AIDS in Africa, mentioned by the Vice-President of the United States, reflects the will and determination of the international community to define an integrated strategy and to deepen awareness of the enormity of human losses. We also support the proposal made by the Secretary-General in his statement of 6 December 1999, which established priorities for action.
In order to implement these priorities, however, structures and mechanisms must be created, such as the international fund proposed by the representative of France this morning. It is also necessary to have a clear vision of the future that will allow us to create a better tomorrow for Africans.
In conclusion, we welcome the United States intention, announced by Vice-President Gore this morning, to allocate extra funds to combat HIV/AIDS worldwide, as well as the measures and projects of the World Bank aimed at supporting and assisting the Governments concerned. We hope that these will encourage all parties. We are willing to coordinate our efforts with those of the international community and African countries to combat this disease, which we have been fortunate enough to limit to a minimum in our country, despite the estimated 5.5 million tourists who visited our country last year.
On behalf of the Council, I would ask the representative of Tunisia if he might, at some future date, distribute a paper on his last point, outlining how he thinks prevention was successful in Tunisia, where it was not in every other country.
Like previous speakers, my delegation would like to thank you, Sir, for convening this meeting on a subject of common concern to the international community. We are also grateful to the Secretary-General, as well as to Mr. Wolfensohn, Mr. Malloch Brown and Mr. Piot for their informative and stimulating introductions.
It is symbolic indeed that the first formal meeting of the Security Council in the new millennium, so ably launched by Vice-President Gore, opens up the discussion of issues of a global dimension and importance, among which the problem of AIDS ranks as one of the gravest. This also demonstrates an increasing role of the Security Council in addressing humanitarian, economic and social aspects of international peace and security.
Ukraine is honoured to take part in this discussion as a member of this body. This status and the trust of the international community, placed in Ukraine when it was elected to serve in the forefront of the United Nations efforts to maintain international peace and security, confer upon us an enormous responsibility. Having been elected to the Security Council for the first time since its independence, Ukraine is ready to make its meaningful and worthy contribution to the Council’s work and to discharge this important mission in a spirit of openness and cooperation while maintaining a wide and constructive dialogue with all Member States. We will strive to bring the Ukrainian perspective into the Council’s activities. Standing at the crossroads of North and South, East and West, we will bring to the Council all the knowledge and experience of our geographic destiny. Our work in the Security Council will be a recognition of the vital role that the United Nations has played in consolidating Ukraine’s independence, preserving its territorial integrity and securing its peaceful integration into the commonwealth of nations.
For almost two decades mankind has been at war with an invisible enemy. So far, we have only been on the defensive, and our losses are comparable to those in real warfare — we have already heard the statistics. There is virtually no country in the world which has been so lucky as to escape the dark cloud of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Yet for Africa, the story is the worst.
The impact of AIDS on the countries of sub-Saharan Africa is especially devastating. It kills the most productive and active part of the population, thus increasing labour costs, reducing formal and informal sector productivity, eroding human, social, economic and infrastructure development and increasing health and welfare expenditures. AIDS also threatens the ability of African States to sustain credible defence forces, thus making it increasingly difficult to maintain domestic and regional security.
One cannot but mention another horrible result of the AIDS epidemic in Africa that has already started to develop into an even bigger human tragedy. In previous decades, about 2 per cent of children in the developing world were orphaned. Because of AIDS, the rates in some African countries, according to studies, have risen to 11 per cent, thus creating a generation of children who have not been nurtured, properly fed or educated. They in turn also become susceptible to AIDS, as well as to crime, induction into rebel militias and other destabilizing phenomena.
I would also like to mention yet another disturbing aspect of the problem, also rightly referred to by the Secretary-General, and that is the connection between the HIV contagion and military conflict. The rise of inter-State and inter-ethnic hostilities in Africa in the 1990s and the large number of refugees created by them became a catalyst for a major explosion in the spread of the virus, which is yet to show up statistically.
By defusing existing conflicts on the continent and preventing new ones, the Security Council will thus make its meaningful contribution to the work carried out by the agencies and organizations within and outside the United Nations system in fighting HIV/AIDS.
Ukraine fully shares the concern that brought about this meeting in the Security Council. My country has also been hit by the AIDS epidemic, which has been spreading at an alarming rate in recent years. At some point this problem became so evident that the Government of Ukraine began to address it, not simply as a health or social issue, but rather as a national security issue. The first and probably the most important lesson we learned is that the problem of AIDS should be fully recognized; it must never be ignored or underestimated.
We are confident that today’s discussion will contribute to increasing the global awareness of the AIDS problem. At the same time, we realise that AIDS will continue to be a serious challenge for many years to come. Only the concerted efforts of the international community will be able to address it successfully. Ukraine stands ready to join these efforts.
In conclusion, Mr. President, let me express our strong hope that this Security Council meeting will provide a powerful impetus to the beginning of a qualitatively new stage in the struggle of the international community against AIDS. Ukraine believes that it is high time for the United Nations to update a comprehensive agenda for action against this pandemic. In this connection, it might be appropriate that the Security Council use its prerogatives and recommend to the General Assembly that it convene a special session to consider new strategies, methods, practical activities and specific measures to strengthen international cooperation in addressing this problem.
Thank you, Mr. Ambassador, particularly for the insight into your own country’s dealing with this problem. I would call everyone’s attention to the fact that the Ambassador concluded with a proposal that we consider a General Assembly session on this issue at a later date.
It is now my pleasure to call on another new member of the Security Council, the representative of Mali, Ambassador Ouane. Welcome to the Security Council, Mr. Ambassador.
Mr. President, I would also like to defer to your wish to save some time for the Security Council, but before expressing my views as Permanent Representative of Mali, I must ask you to allow me to read aloud a message from Mr. Alpha Konaré, President of the Republic of Mali and current Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), addressed to you on the occasion of this meeting. I quote:
“In my capacity as Chairman of ECOWAS, it is my pleasure to address to you, Mr. President, my warmest congratulations on behalf of the Governments and peoples of our subregion on the excellent initiative that you have taken in devoting a meeting of the Security Council to the consideration of the impact of AIDS on peace and security in Africa. This initiative, there can be no doubt, makes it possible to break the complicitous and unacceptable silence that allows AIDS to develop today. This silence is aggravated by the well-known insufficiency of the resources applied until now to eradicate this scourge, the impact of which needs no evidence beyond the following figures.
“Of the 33 million people affected by the AIDS virus, 22 million, in other words 70 per cent, are in Africa south of the Sahara. Today, AIDS orphans number 8 million, and every minute five more people become infected. This pandemic is a tragic threat to the future of our countries and in some regions is even a factor of economic and social destabilization which is a threat to peace and security in Africa.
“In the face of this distressing situation, we must organize ourselves as of now and to wage a crusade against AIDS in which African leaders must bear their share of responsibility. I appeal for a significant increase in the international community’s commitment in the framework of this crusade in order to step up research throughout the world on AIDS, to increase prevention and to provide the necessary support to the millions of persons who are affected by HIV/AIDS, in particular the men, women and children of Africa infected by the pandemic.
“In expressing the wish that, above and beyond this historic step taken now by the Security Council to increase the awareness of the pandemic, there will be concrete measures as a result of this meeting that will give hope to all humankind, the hope of fair treatment for all, I wish your work every success.”
The message is signed by Alpha Konaré, President of the Republic of Mali and current Chairman of ECOWAS.
I shall now speak in my capacity as Permanent Representative of Mali. I would like first of all to associate myself with those who have congratulated your country, Mr. President, and you personally, for having organized this meeting. As a prelude to other meetings also devoted to Africa during the course of this month, today’s meeting bears witness to your own personal commitment and to your country’s interest in Africa. The presence at this meeting of Vice-President Al Gore offers further evidence of this, and I should like to thank him for his important statement.
Our thanks also go to the Secretary-General for his enlightening statement on a subject of fundamental importance to Africa. Today’s meeting has also enabled us to hear Mr. James Wolfensohn, President of the World Bank; Mr. Mark Malloch Brown, the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); and Dr. Peter Piot, the Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), who all made detailed and instructive statements which make clear the enormous extent of the challenge before us.
I will not refer to the absolutely horrifying statistics on the consequences of the AIDS epidemic in Africa. They have been described at length since this morning. For my part, I would like to draw attention to a very clear fact: peace and security do not consist merely in the absence of military conflict; they also depend on the socio-economic realities of nations. In that respect, the AIDS pandemic today undoubtedly constitutes a factor for upheaval in the economic and institutional order, especially in Africa. In fact, many studies indicate that the direct cost of AIDS will be 15 to 20 times higher for national budgets in Africa than for those in Western countries. As for the indirect costs, as the productive sector in particular and the population in general are affected directly, there will be a drastic decline in skilled and unskilled labour. The foreseeable economic consequence will be a decline in the competitiveness of the African economy, which in the short term is already seriously ailing at the international level. It seems, therefore, that the AIDS epidemic is the most serious threat to the development of the continent.
Therefore, we cannot evade the question of how to explain the humanitarian disaster and the threat to the development of Africa that the AIDS pandemic constitutes. We know that AIDS has appeared against a backdrop of crises, first and foremost and economic and social crisis. Indeed, the growing impoverishment of African societies related to global recession has led to a disintegration of the social fabric and the progressive disappearance of the familial and social controls that govern the lives of communities and individuals.
Secondly, there is an identity crisis. This results from the economic and social crisis and also from the fact that individuals lose their bearings and reference points, as well as from the fact that the continent is increasingly open to the outside, even to aggression. In fact, powerful media influences, with which local resources cannot compete, flood Africa with overwhelming sounds and images of violence that are not always positive. Stabilizing indigenous cultures are collapsing a daily basis.
Lastly, there is a political crisis, characterized by crumbling State health systems that manage to cover barely 20 per cent of the health-care needs of the population, almost 30 years after independence.
My delegation believes that the solution to the problem of AIDS involves, at least in part, the search for answers to each of the crises that affect the continent. Dr. Piot made a similar comment this morning. It is clear that to conquer AIDS, the international community must implement a global and coordinated strategy. In this respect, our thinking could focus on three questions. First, how do we organize health services in order to deal with the AIDS epidemic, especially the explosion in health-care costs? Secondly, how do we manage the ethical problems relating to people who are HIV-positive or who have AIDS? Thirdly, what communications policies can be adopted to encourage the individual to adopt new sexual behaviour?
African countries are already tackling the AIDS problem. Useful experience has been gained in different areas. In Mali, the Government has implemented a short-term plan, covering the period 1997-1999, and two medium-term plans covering the period 1989-1998, and a 10-year health development plan, covering the years 1998-2007. These plans, like other experiences and experiments in different parts of the continent, involve innovative measures to take the problem of AIDS out of the realm of medicine and to socialize it. It is essential that such efforts be stepped up.
In this context, we can identify three main areas for action. The first relates to the decentralization of the struggle against AIDS. More or less everywhere throughout the continent non-governmental associations and organizations have shown proof of their dynamism and commitment to the fight against AIDS. They have begun to use new methods of social mobilization that address different age categories and initiation rights. The second area relates to the definition of an institutional framework to resolve legal and ethical problems related to AIDS. This is also essential if we are to maintain a society that is united in the struggle against the pandemic. The third area involves identifying new channels of communication so as to prompt individuals to change their patterns of behaviour.
Because of its extraordinary complexity, AIDS requires the commitment of individuals and of society, of the elite and of communities in general. The challenge that it poses to humankind is an incentive for commitment which must be unwavering, because the very survival of humankind is at stake. Africa, burdened by its many handicaps, is facing a tragic situation. That is why it needs international solidarity in order for it to make full use of its own fighting capacities. In that respect, my delegation fully supports the initiative of the UNAIDS programme, which is intending to implement an international partnership against HIV/AIDS in Africa. That partnership will need the international community to mobilize with the main objective of dealing with the disease so as to reduce significantly its human, social and economic cost in Africa.
I should like to ask the representative of Mali to thank President Konaré for his important message to the Security Council, which we welcome.
The next speaker on my list, and the last member of the Security Council to take the floor today, is the representative of Jamaica. We are delighted that Jamaica, which is welcomed here by its many friends in the United Nations, has joined the Security Council.
First of all, I wish to thank you, Mr. President, for the welcome extended to Jamaica as a new member of the Security Council and to commend you and the delegation of the United States for having organized this debate on an issue of importance not only for Africa but for the international community as a whole. My delegation was therefore very pleased that Vice-President Gore opened the meeting and set the tone for our deliberations. I also wish to express our appreciation to your predecessor, Sir Jeremy Greenstock of the United Kingdom, for his effective guidance of the Council during December.
Today, the Council is taking a new step forward in recognizing the threat that the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa poses to the peace and security of that continent. The many reports available to us point to one undeniable fact: the AIDS epidemic has reached catastrophic proportions and has created a serious development crisis, threatening the future growth and prosperity of the affected countries.
As the Secretary-General reminded us last December:
“Twenty years ago, the global community had not even heard of AIDS. Today, the AIDS pandemic — unexpected, unexplained and unspeakably cruel — presents us, especially in Africa, with a tragedy we can barely comprehend, let alone explain.”
For us to ignore the effects of the AIDS epidemic on the people of Africa would be an abdication of our responsibilities. It would be morally wrong. Indeed, the AIDS epidemic is a worldwide phenomenon having deleterious effects on all regions of the world, including my own region of Latin America and the Caribbean.
We have heard the grim statistics that point to the conclusion that AIDS can no longer be treated solely as a health crisis. As it continues to take its deadly toll on the population, it has adverse impacts on the social fabric of society. It destroys the productive capacity of the people, significantly reducing life expectancy and per capita gross domestic product. This, in turn, exacerbates poverty, often leading to political unrest and violence, and provides a feeding ground for conflict and rebellion. Marginalized and orphaned children further add to the pool of recruits fuelling violence and, possibly, armed conflict.
We know that internal political pressures lead to internal conflicts. We also know that before long, many internal conflicts spill across open, unprotected borders into neighbouring countries. Very soon, what may have started out as a local conflict becomes internationalized. Massive flows of refugees, many infected with HIV/AIDS, provide even more opportunities for the spread of the disease. The data further demonstrate that the risk of contracting AIDS in a refugee camp is six times the risk in the general population.
We also know that in situations of conflict, HIV/AIDS spreads indiscriminately. It spreads to women, children, humanitarian workers, peacekeepers, soldiers and rebels alike. The cycle of the epidemic seemingly has no end in sight, unless the world community acts in unison to end this scourge.
We are cognizant of the efforts undertaken by national Governments and regional and global organizations to respond to the AIDS epidemic in Africa. We may conclude, from the interrelationship between the AIDS epidemic and peace and security in Africa, that the Security Council has a role — indeed, a responsibility to join with these forces — in seeking solutions to the problem. We therefore call upon the Council to recognize this relationship in its peacekeeping and peace-building mandates and to seek ways of cooperating with all interested parties.
Furthermore, the Security Council’s role in conflict prevention must be enhanced so as to eliminate the environment that is conducive to the spread of HIV/AIDS. In this regard, increased resources must also be allocated to the preparation of peacekeepers, military observers and humanitarian workers.
Today’s debate points once more to the recognition of the fact that peace and security cannot be divorced from the socio-economic root causes of conflict. It further points to the need for greater coordination between the Security Council, the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, the specialized agencies, the Bretton Woods institutions and the United Nations funds and programmes.
My delegation wishes to thank the Secretary-General, the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, the Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the President of the World Bank for demonstrating in their statements the commitment of the United Nations system to the fight against AIDS.
The recently launched International Partnership against AIDS in Africa — which brings together Governments, the United Nations, civil society and the private sector — is a significant step in the right direction. The Security Council can, and should, provide the moral and political commitment necessary to garner the global financial and technical resources needed to support the work of UNAIDS and of the Partnership in general.
While researchers continue to seek a cure for AIDS and to develop vaccines, the international community must build on the experiences and lessons learned from those countries that have successfully reduced the spread of the disease. We must remove the stigma of AIDS through public education, providing information on how the disease is transmitted and changing at-risk behaviour. We must provide public health facilities for testing, particularly for women of child-bearing age. We must reduce the cost of medication and treatment and make them widely available. We must provide social and economic support, particularly to those orphaned by AIDS.
We have indeed embarked upon an urgent mission that requires the full attention of the international community if we are not to lose the brightest and best of an entire continent.
This completes the speeches by members of the Security Council. We will hear the remaining speakers after a suspension of three minutes.
I would like to point out that at the current rate of speaking, we have over three hours left to go. If each speaker would kindly try to cut his or her remarks to four or five minutes — which I think is quite possible in most cases, although those countries that are the subject of the debate may legitimately wish to take a few extra moments — it would be greatly appreciated.
In accordance with the understanding reached in the Council’s prior consultations, and in the absence of objection, I shall take it that the Security Council agrees to extend an invitation under rule 39 of its provisional rules of procedure to Dr. David Satcher, Assistant Secretary for Health and Surgeon-General of the United States.
There being no objection, it is so decided.
I invite Dr. Satcher to take his seat at the Council table.
The next speaker is the representative of Algeria. I invite him to take a seat at the Council table and to make his statement.
Mr. President, out of a desire for concision you asked us to omit the customary congratulations and to refrain from quoting figures, alarming though they are, as they have been set out at length and in detail since this morning. But if I agree to make a sacrifice of these figures, since they have been mentioned repeatedly, allow me at least to congratulate you warmly, on behalf of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and of Algeria, on your assumption of the presidency of the Security Council and to express to you our profound gratitude for your interest in our continent. This interest gives us a great deal of hope.
We would like to believe, as we enter the millennium’s first month — much of which, Mr. President, you wish to devote to African issues — that the Council will finally be able to assume its responsibilities vis-à-vis Africa by moving from the stage of statements of intention to that of action.
In this respect, the important statement made by the Vice-President of the United States this morning and the substantial financial contribution that he announced, which we welcome, heighten our expectations. Likewise, the very useful debates held last month — initiated and led by Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock, whom we thank — charted courses for us to follow. I would also like to thank the Secretary-General for his important contribution at the beginning of the meeting this morning.
For nearly two decades, Africa, which, under the most adverse conditions, is already facing numerous challenges and threats, has been suffering from the full impact of a fearsome pandemic that is attacking what it holds most dear: its human capital. The pandemic is also increasingly compromising its chances of recovery and of regaining its place in the family of nations.
The consequences of this terrible scourge are serious and numerous, and they affect equally the peoples and the economies of the countries concerned.
At the human and social levels, the cost is very high. Women and children are paying the highest price. The vulnerability of women — and particularly of pregnant teenagers in the age group 15-19 — is frequently increased by numerous other factors. Children, for their part, are either infected by the virus, to the point where in some countries three quarters of the beds in paediatric wards are occupied by children with AIDS, or abandoned, their parents having succumbed to the disease.
Even more serious is the fact that in certain countries the mortality rate for children under the age of 5 is likely, in the next 10 years, to be three and half times higher than that it would have been without AIDS.
In economic terms, AIDS is now affecting broad economic sectors, in some countries up to 10 percent of the active population. It is thus compromising the economic and social gains achieved at the cost of great sacrifices and imposing on already heavily strained budgets additional costs that they cannot bear.
Thus AIDS, which finds fertile ground in moral and material poverty, will only expand its empire. It will continue to do so because people who are poor, unemployed and uneducated, with no access to basic health care, are particular targets of the disease.
Lastly, at the political level, because public services and security are also affected by the disease, and political and social structures are damaged, social equilibrium is disturbed. Thus the stability and security — the very foundation — of African States is at risk.
Africa has since the beginning of the 1990s been aware of the danger of the HIV/AIDS pandemic for its populations, particularly in its sub-Saharan region. In 1992, during the OAU summit held at Dakar, Senegal, the African heads of State or Government adopted the OAU Declaration on the AIDS Epidemic in Africa. That Declaration was paired with a six-point Programme of Action, with targets and quantifiable results. Following on from this Declaration, the African leaders directed their efforts at developing a global plan of action aimed at facilitating and accelerating the implementation of the Dakar Programme of Action, which led to the adoption in 1993 of the Cairo guidelines on HIV/AIDS.
Aware of the impact of this scourge on children, African leaders also adopted in 1994 the Tunis Declaration on AIDS and the Child in Africa, paired with, as in the case of Dakar, a two-point Plan of Action covering specific aspects and complementing the Dakar Programme.
All of these measures testify to the awareness of African leaders of a problem that over the years has daily become more worrisome. But given the scale of the resources needed to combat this scourge and the complexity of actions which it requires, the African leaders quickly realized that merely mobilizing local means, which are very limited, along with some external support, also very limited, was far from sufficient to guarantee even the slightest tangible progress.
This means that combatting AIDS in Africa requires coordinated, decisive and long-term action through combining efforts at both the national and international level. It is thus in the spirit of the OAU that its summit of 1998, held in Ouagadougou, launched an appeal for international assistance. It was moved by the same spirit that the African heads of State at the thirty-fifth summit, held in Algiers in July 1999, approved the International Partnership against AIDS in Africa as a new framework for urgently mobilizing Governments, civil society, development partners and international assistance bodies so as to work in a way proportionate to the challenges linked to the situation of the pandemic in Africa. A plan of action for combatting AIDS exists. It will be a question of finding the resources necessary to implement it.
As we see in the broad lines now being prepared at the level of African Governments and of the bodies involved, the International Partnership against AIDS in Africa will depend on the efforts which Africa and especially the rest of the world invest in the approach to ensuring that the targets agreed at the international level — that is, collectively — at the special session of the General Assembly in June 1999, devoted to the five-year review of the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo in 1994 — ICPD+5 — are the beginning of a genuine long-term battle of the entire international community.
One of the priorities, from our viewpoint, is to ensure that by 2005 at least 90 per cent of young people between the ages of 15 and 24 have access to information and to the necessary facilities to reduce their HIV infection and to reduce the incidence of HIV in this age group by 25 per cent.
It is of the utmost importance that we focus our efforts on prevention to reduce the spread of this disease. But at the same time we cannot ignore the fact that necessary care for current patients must be available to Africans at a reasonable and affordable price, without which humanity will have every difficulty in dealing with this pandemic. This is why the Security Council and the entire United Nations must make all means available to cope with the pandemic which is affecting large populations throughout the continent.
The next speaker is the representative of Portugal. I invite him to take a seat at the Council table and to make his statement.
Let me congratulate you, Mr. President, and thank you for this debate, as the first of this year.
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. The Central and Eastern European countries associated with the Union — Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia — and the associated countries Cyprus, Malta and Turkey align themselves with this statement.
The European Union deeply shares the concern of the Secretary-General at the grave humanitarian emergency the world is facing, particularly in Africa, with the spread of HIV/AIDS. In Africa, the European Union has been helping countries deal with this disease and its tragic effects for many years, and we are well aware of its devastating consequences. In fact, AIDS now risks becoming a destabilizing factor in the development of many African States. The effects of this disease are compromising economic development and tearing at the social fabric of entire communities, which in turn presents risks for peace and security in specific regions and beyond. Furthermore, situations of instability and conflict make it harder to combat the scourge of HIV/AIDS and to implement effective policies designed to control and stem the spread of the disease. It is clear, therefore, that AIDS presents a challenge to the entire international community and, with regard to its effect in Africa, is deserving of the attention of the Security Council.
As a global problem it therefore requires a global strategy based on collaborative partnerships and responsibility. This is why the European Union supports the idea of developing strong national and international partnerships to address this issue. To this end, the European Union reiterates that the adverse impact of the epidemic on individuals, communities and nations can be overcome only through the combined efforts of Governments, the international community, non-governmental organizations and civil society as a whole — religious organizations, the corporate sector and foundations — the United Nations system and people living with HIV/AIDS.
However, efforts must be coordinated, and the European Union believes that the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has an important role to play in this regard. The European Union fully supports UNAIDS and its co-sponsoring organizations in their joint efforts against HIV/AIDS. The Union also looks forward to the further development of the strategy of International Partnership Against AIDS in Africa.
Education, information, counselling and sexual health services accessible to young people are of the essence. In this respect, we welcome the Programme of Action for the Decade of Education by the African Ministers of Education and the Organization of African Unity (OAU) summit in Algiers that acknowledged the need for education on HIV/AIDS. Knowledge is and will remain the best preventive measure against this deadly disease. This is proof that a growing number of African Governments are demonstrating a stronger political commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS than ever before. This is a welcome development that should be encouraged and supported by the international community.
For our part, the European Union has, over the last 10 years, allocated a total of 1.5 billion euros through its Programme on Health, HIV/AIDS and Population (HAP) for African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. This is in addition to a number of national programmes being carried out by European Union member States. In 1998 alone, close to 120 million euros were committed by the European Development Fund for this purpose and another 22 million euros were committed for AIDS and population under specific budget lines. This European Union support for the Programme on Health, HIV/AIDS and Population presently represents more than 10 per cent of total European Union aid and is expected to increase.
In 1999, at the special session of the General Assembly for the overall review and appraisal of the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD+5), the international community set a new internationally agreed target for addressing HIV/AIDS in the world. The European Union fully supports the attainment of the goals set during the special session and will continue to work in cooperation with African Governments to attain them, and it encourages all involved to lend their support to this task.
And what can the Security Council do? Given its threatening impact on social and economic development, HIV/AIDS has a destabilizing effect on peace and security in the region. Therefore, the Security Council has a responsibility to take HIV/AIDS into consideration in its work. HIV/AIDS cannot be dealt with effectively by single United Nations bodies, but needs instead to be handled in a holistic manner by all sectors of the United Nations aiming at stable peace and security and long-term social and economic development.
The European Union commends the United States for initiating this debate in the Council. The debate will strengthen the urgency of implementing the imperatives for action on the security aspects of HIV/AIDS as proposed by UNAIDS.
The suffering of HIV/AIDS victims in Africa should not go unheeded, and efforts are under way to increase the effectiveness of national and international action addressing this difficult problem. The Security Council’s awareness of the effects of HIV/AIDS in Africa is necessary for effectively addressing issues of peace and security on that continent. The prevention of conflicts is now regarded as a priority task of the United Nations, and there can be little doubt that tackling the challenges posed by HIV/AIDS in Africa constitutes preventive action at its best.
The next speaker inscribed on my list is the representative of Cape Verde. I invite him to take a seat at the Council table and to make his statement.
Once again, I would ask that we shorten the length of our statements, or else we will either be here all night or not be able to finish.
On behalf of the African Group, I wish to thank you, Mr. President, for the initiative you have taken in convening this meeting of the Security Council and for having convened it in an open format, thus making it possible for interested Member States to benefit from the meeting and to be heard on a subject of extreme concern to our African continent. The participation by the Vice-President of the United States of America in this meeting and the important communication that he made before this Council convince us that your country intends to make its own valuable contribution and also to use its capacity to influence others to bring about urgent mobilization on everyone’s part, with the objective of stopping and reversing the present course of the AIDS scourge in Africa and worldwide.
The eloquent points made by Vice-President Gore, emphasizing the potential of AIDS to increasingly jeopardize peace and security in Africa if the dynamics of the epidemic are not vigorously countered on the continent, really come as no surprise to us. We have known for a long time that the different elements that combine to form the fabric of society are interdependent and therefore affect each other. From the historical perspective, experience reveals that deadly epidemics can become factors of acute social destabilization when they assume catastrophic dimensions. Moreover, Africa is living under the threat of another epidemic — poverty — which is acquiring vast proportions and which, in the context of underdevelopment that fuels the spread of AIDS, increases its impact. The struggle against AIDS in Africa will be waged in conditions that are all the more difficult if the environment of poverty and underdevelopment prevailing in Africa is not dealt with at the same time.
Member States, and Africans in particular, are very grateful to the Secretary-General for having applied his own leadership to increase awareness world-wide regarding AIDS, and also for having persisted successfully in promoting the establishment, made formal a month ago, of an International Partnership against AIDS in Africa. He thus gave major impetus to the response requested by the African heads of State and Government when they appealed in 1998 in Ouagadougou for mobilization of the international community to gather global resources against this scourge. The combined efforts of African Governments and friendly countries and the commendable efforts of the United Nations system — by the World Health Organization (WHO), from the very outset to the launching of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) in 1996, which represented a major innovation — certainly slowed the spread of AIDS on the African continent. Nonetheless, efforts have fallen far short of the results that the magnitude and complexity of the phenomenon would require.
The excellent briefings presented this morning by the President of the World Bank, the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Executive Director of UNAIDS described to us the terrifying magnitude of AIDS in Africa and how the effort of economic and social development of African countries, already hindered by many important constraints, is now even more complicated. I have statistics, but I will not refer to all of them. I do want to recall, however, that it is estimated that since the outbreak of the epidemic, some 80 per cent of deaths resulting from AIDS have been in Africa.
Human suffering is thus immense, and the human losses also affect the socio-economic lives of the most affected countries. The delayed effect of the current AIDS carriers also casts its shadow on the future, and this is true even if by some miracle the cycle of infection were to be suddenly broken. It is therefore obvious that only a real global coalition of efforts and resources, working concertedly and synergistically, can offer a chance of ultimate success over this contemporary scourge. In this respect, the International Partnership fortunately seems to have conceptual and organizational means that will give it real effectiveness, if the will to make all the needed ingredients available is not lacking.
We have been reminded here that the spread of AIDS in the world has benefitted from a wall of silence and an attitude of denial, which arise from shame and stigma. Africa can be no exception to this. Like everywhere, it is the initiative of individuals and of responsible and prestigious organizations that leads to decisive action to break the wall of silence and to help release energies.
In Africa, this type of action has grown in scope and strength, in particular in the past year, and at the highest level. We must do everything within our power so that this continent can turn, as soon as possible, from being fertile ground for the spread of AIDS to being an environment capable of channelling and being a catalyst for a movement of prevention, containment and reversal of the epidemic’s impact.
The International Partnership against AIDS in Africa agreed on a deadline — next May — to establish a frame of reference for work and a plan of action for the first years. Let us recall that the objective is to considerably reduce the impact of AIDS on human suffering and on human, social and economic development in Africa, and to be guided in assessing the progress accomplished by indicators to be defined for the different specific areas of activity.
In keeping with the problem to be confronted, the response must be unprecedented, as described by the Secretary-General. The political weight of the Security Council, as well as the political dimension and the resources of many of its members, will certainly provide credibility and invaluable encouragement for the implementation of exactly such a collective response. This undoubtedly will be an endeavour with a strong human component in its spirit, in the resolve inspiring it and in the innovation and intelligence that will be required for the concerted work of Governments, civil society, the United Nations, non-governmental organizations and the private sector.
In addition to the human resources that need to be mobilized, the Partnership’s plan of action will also involve an increase and a significant rehabilitation of the African health systems that are overwhelmed and under-equipped to confront new and fast-increasing demands. Some of the activities to combat the very spread of AIDS, such as the effort to prevent the spread of AIDS from pregnant women to their children, will require the generous use of medication, the current commercial cost of which is well beyond the means of Africans, as is the case with anti-retro-viruses. Thus, the reduction of human suffering, cruelly widespread on our continent, will involve making other types of medication available, certainly at less cost but possibly in larger quantities. It is estimated at this stage that the overall costs would range from $1 billion to $2.5 billion annually. This is a relatively modest sum in light of the task involved, but it would represent a very important difference in the capacity to act, as compared with today’s level, which is extremely insufficient.
The other face of the human emergency in which AIDS is now plunging Africa is that it offers us the continuing opportunity for a collective behaviour that can give meaning to the concept of an international community to which we all aspire.
I wish once again to express our gratitude to you, Mr. President, for your timely initiative in convening this important briefing, and we wish to express the hope that the struggle against the scourge of AIDS in Africa will yield excellent results.
I again implore speakers to keep their remarks as brief as possible.
The next speaker is the representative of Norway. I invite him to take a seat at the Council table and to make his statement.
Let me begin by expressing Norway’s appreciation to the United States presidency of the Security Council for taking the initiative to hold this open meeting on the impact of AIDS on peace and security in Africa.
We would also like to thank Vice-President Al Gore for his comprehensive and thoughtful intervention this morning. My delegation particularly liked the part about new and fresh money and we think this should be a guiding light for all donor countries.
For far too long, AIDS was regarded mainly as a health problem and was left to the health sector. But gradually, the international community has recognized that the devastating effects of this accelerating pandemic on human, social and economic development in Africa call for much broader action. The HIV/AIDS epidemic is becoming one of the main constraints on development in large parts of the continent.
This meeting of the Security Council is an acknowledgement of the links between AIDS and peace and security. Norway warmly welcomes the initiative to establish an International Partnership against AIDS in Africa and hopes that it will lead to broad and concerted action at all levels. In December last year, I participated in the launching meeting presided over by the Secretary-General here in New York. That meeting certainly gave very important impetus and inspiration to the work of the Partnership, but I must say that you, Sir, have really heightened the level by calling this meeting of the Security Council, for which we thank you.
More resources are clearly needed, both from the international community and from national and private sources. Norway places very high priority on this cooperation. We are one of the major contributors to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and a month ago we also granted a special allocation of 28.5 million Norwegian kroner to be used within the framework of the new Partnership in Africa.
We must certainly step up international efforts to develop a vaccine against HIV. We must also find ways to make existing drugs more accessible to those who need them. Public/private partnerships are crucial to making this happen.
While preventive measures are important, we must not forget those millions of people who are already infected and affected by the virus. We must make sure that people living with HIV/AIDS receive appropriate care and that their human rights are fully respected. We need a broad multisectoral approach to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on social and economic development in Africa, as well as on peace and security. The erosion of human capital affects the education system, the productive sectors, government and administration, and hence the security situation, and cannot be dealt with by the health sector alone. A broad range of actors within the international community — including, but not limited to, the co-sponsors of UNAIDS — have important roles to play in supporting the efforts of member States. This meeting of the Security Council should help to move the issue higher up the global agenda.
The next speaker is the representative of South Africa. I invite him to take a seat at the Council table.
I would remind members that, next week, we will have the honour of being joined here in the Burundi discussion by Mr. Nelson Mandela, the mediator for Burundi. I hope the representative of South Africa will extend to him the high appreciation of the entire Security Council that he will honour us for what I understand will be his first appearance before the Security Council.
I invite the representative of South Africa to make his statement.
As hurried as we are, let me welcome you, Sir, to the position you occupy today. I cannot resist also bursting with pride at seeing some of my dear friends who have joined this Council. It is a wonderful, wonderful day today.
It is important for me to say that HIV/AIDS is a global problem. There is no country that has been spared this epidemic. It is said that, at the end of 1999, there were more people living with HIV/AIDS in the developing world than in the developed world. The majority of people living with HIV/AIDS are indeed in the developing countries, yet the human beings affected are the same. The disease is the same.
The reason for the disparity is not hard to find. The core difference between the developed and developing world is the level of development itself. The answer, therefore, lies in the difference in the standard of living of the people infected. In other words, until there is a cure for HIV/AIDS, the level of development in each country will influence how much such a disease spreads.
Poverty and underdevelopment destroy families and health systems. While we must continue striving to find ways of halting the spread of and curing HIV/AIDS, the only way to immediately address the spread of this disease is through raising the standard of living in developing countries. Addressing issues of poverty is central to this approach.
If you have an educated populace, it is easy to communicate AIDS-prevention programmes in a manner which does change behavioural patterns. We have found instances in our own country where communities know that there is a disease called HIV/AIDS, but do not appreciate the connection between that disease and their sexual behaviour. This connectedness is understood better within literate communities in our own country. More spending on health care results in HIV/AIDS preventative tools, such as condoms, being more accessible to communities.
The better levels of nutrition in high- and middle-income societies ensure stronger resistance to disease. The positive impact of good nutrition on opportunistic infections is well known to all of us. The accessibility and affordability of ordinary drugs are also central to this issue. A body weakened by ordinary diseases is more susceptible to AIDS. We use these few examples to illustrate the relationship between HIV/AIDS and poverty.
At the Third African Population Conference held in Durban, South Africa, in December 1999, it was noted that
“AIDS is 100 per cent preventable through openness and proper education”.
However, a look at the countries with the largest number of people who live with HIV/AIDS shows that there has been a decline in social spending. There is less money for alleviating poverty and for improving the nutrition of the people as a defence against nutritional diseases such as tuberculosis and pneumonia, which make it easier for HIV/AIDS to fester. Many developing countries are overburdened with paying off international debt, which leaves them with little money for development.
The decline in social spending happened over many years, mainly as a result of policies of multilateral institutions. We are encouraged by efforts now being made by such institutions to evaluate some of these policies and to focus on their core mandate, which is development.
The Charter of the United Nations, in Article 24, paragraph 1, bestows upon the Security Council the “primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security”. In the age of globalization, it has become important to define security in broader terms. In other words, the definition of security has to include economic security, food security and health security. The Security Council, whose job is to guarantee security around the world, must use its peacekeeping operations to create a space and climate for other institutions and regional and subregional organizations — such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which are best suited to address other aspects of security — so that they can do their work.
Already, the Security Council has set a wonderful precedent in Sierra Leone, where the Council’s Chapter VII mandate allows peacekeeping troops to be accompanied by expert United Nations personnel dealing with social issues that result from conflict. They include experts sent to assist women and children caught in conflict, including many people who had their limbs cut off by ruthless guerrillas.
The Security Council must be applauded for having adopted this innovative decision. We hope that the same creativity will prevail soon when the Security Council decides on a mandate for a peacekeeping force for the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Perhaps it is time that all 188 Members of the United Nations participated in a General Assembly debate on the challenge posed by the spread of HIV/AIDS throughout the world and developed a comprehensive plan to address this disease that knows no boundaries.
Furthermore, the donor countries must ease restrictions on the money they earmark for the treatment of HIV/AIDS in Africa so that recipient countries can use it to alleviate poverty, help improve the living standards of their citizens and fund education programmes on this disease. Otherwise, the money given for the treatment of HIV/AIDS may not produce the results that are needed in fighting off this epidemic.
Let me conclude by saying that there is no cure for AIDS at this point. As we await a possible cure, we have the ability to halt its spread. Let us not shy away from this.
I would request the Ambassador of South Africa to please convey to President Mbeki the fact that Vice-President Gore referred specifically to him and quoted him.
In order to shorten the rest of the day, I request all representatives to refrain from any further compliments to the new President of the Security Council or for the holding of this meeting. I appreciate them greatly, and so does my country, but the time is short, and we still have a very large number of speakers to hear.
The next speaker inscribed on my list is the representative of Japan. I invite him to take a seat at the Council table and to make his statement.
I will cut my compliments to you, Mr. President, but I have to say that this meeting is very timely and well focused.
HIV/AIDS is a serious threat to human security in many parts of the world. However, the situation is most serious in Africa. There, this deadly disease is threatening the security of the life and dignity of communities and their members. In many African countries, it is already having a devastating impact on the population, particularly on young people. More than that, the disease has become a serious impediment to economic and social development, as well as to the peace and security of the countries concerned.
This situation demands a clearer recognition of the seriousness of the issue of AIDS and a stronger commitment to fight the disease both by African countries themselves and by their partners outside the region. Africans themselves are already engaged in the fight against AIDS. However, given the magnitude of the problem, it is evident that the African countries need stronger support and cooperation from the international community.
Japan, for its part, is engaged in a combination of efforts aimed at combating AIDS in Africa, primarily through the following three approaches, and we are determined to strengthen our efforts in the years to come.
First of all, Japan places a high priority on the issue of AIDS in its official medium-term policy on official development assistance, and under its Global Issues Initiative on Population and AIDS, launched in 1994, Japan has been providing technical assistance and grants to many countries in Africa to assist them in fighting this deadly disease.
I want to add that some of the programmes in this Global Issues Initiative are integrated into the so-called common agenda that Japan and the United States are pursuing together on a broad range of global issues. For example, our two countries sent a joint mission to Zambia in 1998 for the purpose of formulating projects on population, AIDS and children’s health.
Japan’s financial contribution under the Global Issues Initiative had already reached approximately $3.7 billion by the end of fiscal year 1998. Although the seven-year Initiative is due to be completed at the end of fiscal year 2000, the Japanese Government is determined to expand its support for the fight against AIDS by building upon what has been accomplished thus far.
Secondly, Japan is firmly committed to supporting the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and has contributed a total of $23 million to its programmes since its establishment in 1996. We highly commend UNAIDS for the coordinating role it has played and for its achievements to date. We are considering strengthening our financial support for its programmes relating to AIDS in Africa.
Thirdly, it was decided at the second Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD II), which Japan sponsored with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in October 1998, that African countries and their development partners should strengthen cooperation in their fight against AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. In response, Japan announced its readiness to provide approximately 90 billion yen in grants over a five-year period starting in 1998 in such areas as education, health care, medical services and the supply of safe and clean water in Africa. It is our intention to use these grants with a particular emphasis on the fight against AIDS.
I would also like to point out that African and Asian countries have much to learn from each other in their fight against AIDS and that the exchange of information and experience between the countries of the two regions should be promoted. I am pleased to inform the Council that this proposition received broad support from the participants at the TICAD regional review meeting held in Zambia last November.
I am convinced that this open meeting will greatly enhance the level of attention paid by all concerned to the serious issue of HIV/AIDS in Africa. It is our strong hope that today’s discussion will result in more intensive efforts by Africans themselves and their partners, which we need now in order to improve the situation quickly. I would therefore like to conclude by reaffirming yet again the strong commitment of the Japanese Government to the urgent task of fighting AIDS in Africa.
We note, Mr. Ambassador, your comment that your Government is considering additional support of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
We have now reached the mid-point in the list of speakers, which does not necessarily mean the mid-point in terms of time. But this is an appropriate time for me to invite the Surgeon-General of the United States to take a seat at the Council table and to make some very brief comments before he has to return to Washington.
Let me thank the Security Council for this opportunity to be here today and to address it. I have heard that I might well be the first Surgeon-General ever to address the Security Council, and that, for me, represents a tremendous opportunity and challenge. Over 50 years ago Surgeon-General Leonard Scheele, speaking to the first meeting of the World Health Organization, said, that the world cannot exist half healthy and half sick. So we are challenged today by that commitment expressed on behalf of the United States by a Surgeon-General.
As the Security Council has heard, AIDS has had and is having a devastating impact on sub-Saharan Africa and on many other areas of the world. But I think that it is also important to point out that, as we have heard, we are not without hope. When we look at what partnerships and global strategies have already achieved, we have to have hope. Together, we have eradicated smallpox, the last case occurring in the late 1970s. We are very close to eradicating polio from the world. In this respect, I must point to the dynamic leadership of Rotary International and of the business community, which is going to be so important to our efforts in this context, working in partnership in areas such as Uganda. Certainly, when I was Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we learned much about what can be accomplished through comprehensive programmes of counselling, education and testing.
We appreciate the opportunity we have had to work with our colleagues. Working with our colleagues in Thailand, we learned about what can be accomplished in the military, where AIDS was a major problem, and as a result of working together, we have seen a dramatic decline. So we have learned a lot of lessons by working in partnerships throughout the world, and we hope to continue those kinds of partnerships.
We have also learned much from our experience in the United States. As the Council has heard and knows, we have made significant progress in the United States. But, in the words of Robert Frost, we still have promises to keep and miles to go before we sleep.
We have learned that it is possible to decrease the onset of HIV, which has gone from a high of 150,000 cases a year in the late 1980s to 40,000 cases a year today. We have also invested in science, as a result of which we have developed treatments, including the highly active anti-retroviral therapies that are making a difference and have reduced mortality from AIDS by 60 per cent compared to 1995. However, we know that this is not the answer to this epidemic in our country or anywhere else in the world. So our commitment today is to work in global partnership — not just providing the funds that have been committed by the Vice-President and Ambassador Holbrooke — in combating this epidemic throughout the world.
We are committed to a balanced approach to this epidemic. We believe that it is important to invest heavily in prevention, including surveillance, so that we can monitor this epidemic throughout the world, including in sub-Saharan Africa. We believe that it is important to invest in treatment. I believe that treatment is in and of itself preventive when applied correctly. For example, working together in Tanzania, we learned that the aggressive treatment of sexually transmitted diseases significantly reduced the spread of HIV/AIDS. So we have learned the importance of comprehensive treatment, and we have learned the importance of treating opportunistic infections in people infected with AIDS. But we have also learned that we must continue to work together to provide treatment to all people who are infected with this virus, a commitment that was made by the Vice-President this morning.
We are also committed to continuing to invest in research, especially in research to develop a vaccine. We believe that prevention is the most important investment that we can make in dealing with this epidemic. We are very pleased to be able to work with our partners throughout the world — in Thailand, Uganda, the United States and other places — in the development of a vaccine. In fact that is now in phase III trials in parts of the world. We are committed to continuing that research and that investment.
Our Secretary of Health and Human Services, Donna Shalala, has said that our ethics must be as sophisticated as our science. In response to comments that we have heard today, I want to say that together we must make that commitment as we work in prevention, treatment and research and in dealing with orphans throughout the world, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. Our ethics must be as sophisticated as our science, and we must hold each other to that commitment.
The interrelationships among health and social, economic and political stability and well-being, and their impact on peace and security, is a point that has been well made in this meeting of the Security Council. We hope that as we work with the Council throughout the world we can keep this in mind.
In closing, let me say that our partnerships must be interdisciplinary. Our experience with business and labour response to AIDS in the United States has been really critical — I have mentioned the eradication of polio and Rotary International. We have also benefited from the faith community. We have benefited from other non-governmental organizations and from the military and the role of the military. The Security Council will soon hear from the Secretary of Labor of the United States, as we attempt to gather with our partners throughout the world to make a commitment in the area of labour in dealing with the AIDS epidemic, as we have tried to do in our country.
In closing, let me say again how very pleased I am that the Security Council has raised the issue of AIDS in Africa to this level and presented to all of us the challenge of keeping before us the relationships between health and security. We look forward to working with the Security Council in the days, months and years ahead to conquer this global pandemic.
I am delighted that the Surgeon-General honoured us today with his presence. I thank him for staying exactly within the five-minute limit.
The next speaker is the representative of Brazil. I invite him to take a seat at the Council table and to make his statement.
I should like to express to you very briefly, Mr. President, our compliments, which are well deserved. I must say that it is an honour to return to this table as a non-member of the Security Council and to speak on behalf of the Brazilian delegation at this very important meeting. If you will allow me, I should like to express my best wishes for success to the members that are just beginning their term of office, and especially to Jamaica, which has replaced Brazil in one of the seats of the Latin American and Caribbean Group in the Council.
As previous speakers have stressed, in many African countries AIDS overburdens State institutions, undermines traditional family support schemes and adds to the climate of despair and disarray that tends to fuel conflicts. Although the reality in Africa may be harsher than elsewhere, the social, economic and political implications of AIDS are felt everywhere. Its spread is a global problem that must be addressed in a comprehensive manner. The impact in Africa is especially severe because of the lack of resources for prevention and treatment. Africa requires the instruments of cooperation to be strengthened. In doing so, the international community will be helping itself, not just Africa.
What we need most at this moment is international solidarity. Africans themselves have much to offer, with their many successful national experiences in combating AIDS.
It is clear that the international response to the AIDS epidemic in Africa does not fall within the specific mandate of the Security Council. But our debate today may help raise the worldwide awareness of the social and economic devastation wrought by AIDS and of the greater threat ahead if effective action is not taken. Our debate places the problem of AIDS in Africa in the spotlight of international attention and stresses its implications, which extend far beyond health issues.
Notwithstanding the support provided by multilateral agencies, bilateral and plurilateral partnerships remain fundamental. Throughout the 1980s, Brazil benefited from international cooperation and has since consolidated its national programme for preventing and combating AIDS. At the regional level, Brazil took an active part in the setting up, in March 1996, of a horizontal technical cooperation group on HIV/AIDS.
Brazil’s contribution to that group, which brings together a number of Latin American and Caribbean States, is centred on training and capacity-building in organizing local programmes for the prevention and control of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. Based on our regional experience, the Brazilian Government developed, in 1997, a similar cooperation scheme with the Portuguese-speaking countries of Africa. In 1999 experts from the Brazilian Ministry of Health visited Kenya, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia and Botswana with a view to identifying cooperation projects that could be quickly set up.
Being a developing country, Brazil is not a major donor. Nevertheless, our technical expertise has been put at the disposal of others, and we will continue to work closely with UNAIDS and the donor community in helping third countries to curb the spread of AIDS. Furthermore, Brazilian policies to cope with both the causes and consequences of AIDS may provide a useful example to other countries that face similar budgetary constraints.
Our health system distributes free anti-HIV drugs to all patients. This policy has helped reduce the number of hospitalizations.
In Brazil, strong public campaigns through the mass media have been key in our preventive strategy.
Education and dissemination of information concerning AIDS constitute the best way to halt the spread of the disease in Africa and all over the world.
It is tempting to compare the effects of AIDS to those of wars. The so-called age factor is a characteristic shared by AIDS and war, for both AIDS and war impose a heavy toll on young adults, depriving many societies not only of an important part of its workforce, but also of loving parents. The consequence is a rising population of orphaned children left behind, often without adequate assistance. If our debate helps reverse even in a modest way the fate of these helpless children, it will have been worth undertaking.
The impact of AIDS on Africa is a test case for the United Nations capacity to be both a catalyst of international solidarity and a vehicle for transforming pious words into tangible action.
I would like to thank Ambassador Fonseca for the support he gave us last month when this issue was first raised.
The next speaker inscribed on my list is the representative of the Republic of Korea. I invite him to take a seat at the Council table and to make his statement.
In the course of today’s Council meeting we have listened to all sorts of dismal statistics and have heard about symptoms and diagnoses available regarding the AIDS problem in Africa. Now is therefore the time for us to act, and to act decisively with concrete measures to fight this unprecedented tragedy and to turn the tide against AIDS. We therefore commend the Security Council for its willingness to become an additional partner in the comprehensive and coordinated efforts of the international community to combat AIDS in Africa, with particular emphasis on the security aspect of the epidemic. We are confident that the initiatives taken by the Security Council at this juncture will generate momentum for a global response by all actors on all fronts to combat this pandemic, which threatens not only Africa, but also the rest of the world.
Having said that, let me put forward several practical suggestions related to today’s topic of discussion.
First, my delegation believes that the international community should address the problem of AIDS in Africa with the full force of an institutional response. In this context, we welcome the Secretary-General’s suggestion to the General Assembly at its last session that it set up a working group that — among other responsibilities — would forge effective partnerships with the goal of reducing HIV/AIDS infection rates in Africa.
In the ensuing resolution, the General Assembly requested its President to convene an organizational meeting of the open-ended ad hoc working group no later than March 2000. We hope that this working group will soon begin its activities by monitoring the AIDS situation in Africa and subsequently making recommendations thereon, including the suggestion made today by my colleague the Ambassador of Ukraine to consider holding a special session of the General Assembly devoted to the AIDS problem.
My delegation also considers it necessary that the working group’s mandate be further broadened to include devising a more comprehensive and coordinated strategy involving all actors within and outside the United Nations system, in close cooperation with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
By the same token, we welcome the substantive progress made at the meeting on the International Partnership against AIDS in Africa held here in New York last December. We look forward to an agreed plan of action to be submitted by all the participating actors next May.
Secondly, my delegation suggests that the Security Council establish a mechanism for close cooperation and coordination with UNAIDS, the focal point for a wide range of actors devoted to fighting AIDS. To that end, the Security Council may wish to arrange regular open briefing sessions with the Executive Director of UNAIDS to keep Member States up to date on the aspects of the AIDS crisis in Africa that have peace and security implications.
Finally, we believe that the social, economic and political scale and dimensions of the AIDS epidemic in Africa call for a comprehensive and integrated approach that requires not only active participation but also close cooperation and coordination among all major stakeholders, namely, local populations, African leaders, the United Nations system, non-governmental organizations and donors. To echo Vice-President Gore, independent initiatives to fight AIDS by the various actors must be more focused and coordinated in order to take maximum advantage of their synergy and success. We therefore consider it essential that we reinforce the leading role of UNAIDS vis-à-vis these crucial actors by strengthening its mandate, providing it with greater resources and enhancing the coordinating authority of its Executive Director.
In conclusion, it is our sincere hope that the views and suggestions put forward at today’s meeting will create momentum that will unite the global fronts to fight AIDS in Africa and ultimately help prevent the spread of this horrendous epidemic from threatening peace and security on the African continent.
I thank the representative of the Republic of Korea for those provocative and valuable suggestions, which I hope we will all consider.
The next speaker inscribed on my list is the representative of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. I invite him to take a seat at the Council table and to make his statement.
I would like to point out that the days devoted to Africa in the Security Council have increased in number since 25 September 1997, when we decided to devote a day to Africa in the Council. Other days followed in 1998, and in 1999 several meetings were devoted to Africa — including the meeting of 29 September, as well as another in December. The Council has now decided to devote a whole month to Africa. Africa thanks all those who are devoting days, weeks and months to it.
In reality, it would take years to consider the questions related to Africa. But what has actually taken place since 25 September 1997, when the Council devoted a day to Africa at the level of Ministers for Foreign Affairs? The then Chairman of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), Mr. Mugabe, participated then, and President Compaore took part the following year. What has happened or been decided upon this year regarding Africa in the Council?
Questions related to Africa comprise over 60 per cent of the work of the Council. Africa needs not only pious hopes and eloquent speeches to solve its problems. Good intentions are not enough. Africa needs tangible work. It knows its maladies and their remedies. It is just that Africa is unable to obtain those remedies, given the shortage of resources to deal with these maladies. As I already stated in the Council, on 27 September 1999, when it devoted a meeting to the situation in Africa:
“an urgent international programme should be set up under the auspices of the United Nations and the OAU, supervised by the World Health Organization, to deal with AIDS treatment, prevention and awareness. This disease threatens the entire continent and must be swiftly dealt with through an international plan of action. It should also adopt a similar international programme against malaria and other endemic diseases. In addition to the United Nations, all countries and international organizations, governmental and non-governmental, foundations, companies and individuals should provide contributions, financial and in kind, to this humanitarian work.” (S/PV.4049, resumption 2, p. 24)
That is what I said in September last year when we raised the question of AIDS.
Today I must say very frankly, and I am speaking here on behalf of Africa and of the African Group in the United Nations, that the Security Council is faced with a major challenge. The question of AIDS has been added to its agenda, so the challenge is to adopt and implement tangible measures. Otherwise, the Council would be making great statements without having actually done anything. The mountain would have given birth to a mouse, as we say in Arabic. This would be unacceptable for Africa, as we have already decided to devote days, weeks and a month to the consideration of questions relating to Africa. Africa can do without publicity. What counts for Africa is results.
I would propose, therefore, that the resolution that we will adopt here take into account the debate at this meeting, including, inter alia, first, the financing of the campaign against AIDS through determining a certain proportion of the contributions of Member States to the budget of the United Nations and devoting that amount to combating AIDS.
Secondly, I propose that the Group of Seven finance a certain amount of that campaign, which would be commensurate with their economic level; thirdly, that international financial organizations make a contribution to this campaign; and fourthly, that universities, research centres, companies, individuals and non-governmental organizations also make proportionate contributions. Also, the media should discharge their proper role in terms of making the public aware of the epidemic. At least we should adopt a resolution along those lines. If we do not, Africa will never forgive those who have made this merely a media issue and a forum for political one-upmanship.
May I make one brief comment. I thank you very much, Ambassador, for your comments. Just one brief clarification: you referred to a Security Council resolution. This is a legitimate point, but it is not our intention to have a resolution or a presidential statement today. That is not the purpose of this particular meeting. But your point, had this been the case, is well taken.
At the outset, Mr. President, I wish to express the deep appreciation of my delegation for your innovative and highly imaginative interpretation of international security as including human security as well in this post-cold-war era. I commend you for your exemplary courage and foresight in making the long-neglected problems of Africa the theme of your presidency.
This morning the presence of the Vice-President of the United States at this inaugural meeting highlighted very specific suggestions, measures and commitments. In this respect, I would like to highly laud his efforts and those of his Government in this direction.
In many ways, it is fitting to begin this focus on Africa with an examination of the economic and social devastation wrought by the AIDS epidemic, which is now the number-one killer in Africa. Obviously, AIDS has had a catastrophic impact on peace and security in Africa. Since the beginning of the epidemic, 50 million individuals worldwide have been infected with HIV, 16 million of whom have died. Of those who died, 12 million, or nearly 75 per cent, were in Africa. Two million died there last year alone, which corresponds to five times the number of deaths due to AIDS in the United States in the entire last two decades. Most stunning of all, of the 34 million people currently affected and still alive, roughly 23 million, or 68 per cent, are in sub-Saharan Africa. A syndicated columnist in Newsweek wrote last week that
“every minute 11 people worldwide are infected with HIV, 10 of them in sub-Saharan Africa”.
In the 1950s, sub-Saharan Africans had an average lifespan of 44 years, a figure which, with improved living standards, had risen to 59. Today that figure is rapidly declining, and could, before the end of the decade, reach 45 years, wiping out the gains of half a century. Yet all the sub-Saharan countries combined have a mere $160 million to spend confronting AIDS, and the challenge they face is simply enormous.
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) literature states that Africa remains the global epicentre of the epidemic. However, certain other regions, it seems, are catching up with Africa, in particular the newly independent States of the former Soviet Union and the Eastern and Central European countries. What this shows is that AIDS cannot be dismissed as an African problem. Rather, it is a global human problem, or, more correctly, a global human tragedy, one which concerns every one of us, wherever we may be. Hence, Mr. President, your ingenious idea of convening this meeting on a health issue, the first in the history of the Security Council. Since AIDS is killing far more people than war, it certainly deserves the Council’s attention. Hopefully, this laudable effort will nudge the global conscience towards action, more specifically to leverage the resources of our planet to defeat this plague of our era. Many countries in Africa, as has been noted at this meeting, are responsibly tackling this problem. They need, however, recognition, more meaningful assistance and long-term support.
Africa, ironically, cannot rely on the wonder drugs that have cut mortality in rich countries, because those drugs cost over $20,000 per person per year, whereas poor countries, which bear the brunt of AIDS, cannot afford more than $20 per person per year. The answer does not lie only in reducing the cost of treatment, but in providing the necessary health infrastructure, as well as in investing in the development of a cheap, easily delivered vaccine. But this remains a long-term proposition.
We enter the new millennium with more poor people than the world has ever known, and we are in the midst of plenty, awash with resources. Out of the world’s current 6 billion people, 1.3 billion, or about 20 per cent, live below the absolute poverty line, on less than $1 a day; and 2.8 billion, or about 50 per cent, eke out survival on less than $2 a day. Obviously, inequality has multiplied enormously. The majority of Africans lack a minimally decent life, as expressed in such things as clean water, sanitation, health services and education — hence, the excessive prevalence of AIDS in Africa. In truth, the peril of HIV and AIDS in Africa lies in the continent’s poverty. So, in an era of declining international resource flows for Africa’s development needs, the worry is that the AIDS peril may continue to ravage the continent’s vital asset: its scarce human capital.
Fighting AIDS requires a more holistic approach. We must improve societies, institutions and economies to eliminate poverty, the source of most of Africa’s ills. In particular, the elimination or containment of AIDS will require concrete steps to prevent, to cure and to treat. Dr. Bruntland, Director-General of the World Health Organization, wisely notes that
“while prevention is the most promising strategy for managing AIDS epidemic in the long term, we cannot lose sight of the fact that millions of people are affected today. For them we must do a much better job of increasing access to health care and support, including inexpensive antibiotics that can add many months to the lives of people already sick with AIDS, to palliative therapies that can help increase comfort and reduce suffering and to psychological and social support for patients and their families.”
In conclusion, let me say AIDS in Africa is not all poverty, but at current levels, it is very close.
The next speaker is the representative of Mongolia. I invite him to take a seat at the Council table and make his statement.
My delegation also would like to express its appreciation to you, Mr. President, for taking the initiative of convening this open Council debate on this issue. We believe that this question, especially its far-reaching implications not only for individual States but for international peace and security in general, demands that it be taken up in the Council without delay. Our appreciation and thanks also go to the Vice-President of the United States and to the Secretary-General, as well as to the representatives of the United Nations agencies for their briefings and contributions to the Council.
My delegation fully agrees with the previous speakers that the spread of infectious diseases, in particular the proliferation of the most deadly infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, especially across the African continent, has become one of the most disturbing human security issues facing the world today. It has indeed become a security issue in its broader sense.
Since the first cases of AIDS surfaced in 1981, this disease has killed almost 14 million men, women and children worldwide. By 1998, there were over 30 million people worldwide infected with HIV/AIDS, of whom 23 million were in Africa. It is estimated that 87 per cent of the world’s children infected with the HIV virus live in Africa. The statistics also vividly demonstrate that with only 13 per cent of the world’s population, Africa alone has about 70 per cent of the world’s HIV/AIDS cases. These and many other disturbing data cited earlier demand the urgent attention of the international community and that effective adequate ways to control and stop this deadly disease be found.
Throughout 1999, the international community, including this Council, devoted increasing attention to the question of strengthening peace and security, as well as promoting socio-economic development in Africa. It is yet further recognition that global peace and security are interdependent and therefore cannot be ensured unless peace and prosperity prevail on the African continent as well. Tackling the AIDS issue is an important component of this, since durable peace and sustainable development in Africa will not be achieved without effectively fighting AIDS, protecting and preventing the entire population of the continent from this disease that truly threatens the very basis of human security.
We concur with the view that the scourge of this epidemic can be removed and prevented only by joint efforts, with the active participation of Governments, non-governmental organizations, civil society and international organizations.
The United Nations can and should play an important role in assisting Governments and peoples to fight against this rapidly growing scourge. It is clear that one of the root causes of the rapid spread of this disease is directly connected with poverty. This is confirmed by the fact that about 44 per cent of Africans and 51 per cent of those in the sub-Saharan region, which is most affected by HIV/AIDS, are living in absolute poverty. It is therefore my delegation’s belief that the broad programme of development assistance and poverty eradication provided by the international community to African countries must be directly linked with the intensive programme of assistance aimed at promoting education, especially health education, as well as health care.
My delegation associates itself with others in urging the United Nations and its relevant agencies and bodies to take decisive measures to address this challenge properly. We also urge the international financial bodies not to reduce but, to the contrary, to increase the resources aimed at assisting African countries. We believe that effective preventive measures should also be supported by intensifying research work to eliminate and defeat this scourge.
In conclusion, allow me to reiterate once again our support for the United Nations efforts to break the virtual wall of silence regarding this scourge, to take effective measures to stop the proliferation of this deadly disease and to reverse it in the nearest future. I hope that today’s discussion in the Council and the follow-up debates will contribute in a practical way to achieving concrete results in the battle against this evil.
Thank you for your very kind remarks. Once again, I would respectfully request people to keep their remarks to five minutes.
I would now like to ask the Minister of Health of Namibia — who has sat very attentively here all day long through seven hours of speeches and who is the only Minister of Health here whose country is also a member of the Security Council — if she would make some very brief ad hoc observations for all our benefit, but I stress the word “brief”, Madam Minister.
I will certainly be very brief. I only have three points to make here.
I do not want any impression to be created that the African Governments are sleeping on the problem. We have proven that the Governments have made serious, serious efforts in fighting the scourge of HIV/AIDS.
Of course, as we said, we cannot afford the medicines, but we are working very hard on prevention. Our communities are fully informed, and we are not sitting and waiting for other people to come and do the work for us.
This is a question of partnership. HIV is not only an African problem; we, as partners, can really work together in order to fight AIDS as a nation, just as we would any infections that come our way, such as plague — just as we are fighting polio and as we fought smallpox. I think this is what we are requesting other Governments to do; but they should not think that African Governments are irresponsible and are not doing anything. That is not the issue. We are all working very hard on this question.
Secondly, I would like to reiterate the need for vaccines. I would like to request the researchers, when they research the vaccines, to also include sub-group C, the group in our area in southern Africa. I think the vaccines that they are busy testing include only sub-groups A and B, if the information that we got in Lusaka in the last three months is correct. I want the vaccines; we are asking for these vaccines to be affordable to everybody, particularly to us in Africa. They should not be made so expensive, like the anti-viral drugs that we cannot afford. I think that we have to work very hard so that these vaccines will be affordable for our people.
Lastly, I would like to reiterate that while we are trying to treat those who are infected — and we treat the opportunistic diseases and also the other sexually transmitted diseases — it is important that we continue with our education programmes. We are also targeting schools in order to stop the new infections, because we cannot do much about those who are already infected. I think the programmes must be strengthened in schools. We have asked our Ministries of Education to include HIV/AIDS as part of their school curricula.
On behalf of my delegation and others, I thank you once again, Mr. President, for making it possible for this issue of HIV/AIDS finally to come to this Council, and it should not be the last time. I think we should continue to fight together. I am very happy with the input from everybody who spoke.
I thank the Minister of Health of Namibia, and I hope she will extend our appreciation to her Government in Windhoek for sending her here today, and to her for making this long visit. I hope she will convey to the peoples and fellow African Ministers the historic and unprecedented nature of today’s meeting.
The next speaker inscribed on my list is the representative of Indonesia. I invite him to take a seat at the Council table and to make his statement.
Allow me to extend our sincere congratulations to you, Mr. President, on your assumption of the presidency of the Security Council for this month. The Indonesian delegation would like to take this opportunity to express its appreciation to you and the members of the Council for convening today’s open debate. We also commend the format of the discussion today, which enhances the possibility of the further involvement of Member States that are not members of the Council in issues under discussion in the Security Council. Likewise, we look forward to the application of such a format in the discussion of crucial issues concerning the maintenance of international peace and security.
In welcoming this open debate on an issue which has evoked widespread interest and concern, it is worth noting that AIDS, particularly in Africa, is complex and multidimensional. It needs to be urgently addressed by the international community.
Certainly, at this stage it is beyond the capacity of any single Government to respond. In that regard, this issue has also been the focus of other bodies of the United Nations system. Today’s discussion before the Council will surely enhance the multidimensional approach to addressing this issue in the continuing endeavour to overcome its devastating repercussions.
The Secretary-General has underscored the fact that the struggle to bring about peace and security in Africa is inextricably linked to economic growth and development. In the absence of sustained socio-economic progress, it is doubtful that lasting peace and stability could be secured. As the report further highlights, conflict prevention and post-conflict peace-building are meaningless unless they can enable a society to develop.
What has not been so clearly established or so widely recognized is the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic on peace and security. Though there has been little direct study on the impact of AIDS on stability and security in Africa, many believe that the devastating impact of the disease on the fabric of society is self-evident. At the same time, deprivation and poverty are well recognized as non-military sources of conflict and instability. Thus, the connection between AIDS and security is a credible one. The widespread epidemic that is currently devastating many countries in Africa can be clearly seen not only to have an impact on development but also to constitute a perennial source of political insecurity and instability.
According to available statistics, it seems that poor people, drug users and neglected populations, including women, are the most vulnerable ones. What is also of deep concern is the increasing numbers of infants and children who are being infected with and dying from AIDS. With the growing costs of providing health services in many countries, it is no longer possible to meet the escalating demands created by HIV.
To address this complex and pervasive crisis in Africa, my delegation believes that the international community should undertake a sincere commitment to eradicate this scourge through a developmental approach. The health needs of Africa must be borne by international burden-sharing. However, we are all aware of the difficult road ahead, as the financial and human resources to deal with this epidemic are woefully inadequate, both at the national and the international level. What does show promise, however, is the multisectoral approach of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) which is sponsored by many bodies of the United Nations and provides effective system-wide coordination. In this light, a coordinated, multisectoral approach, backed by adequate resources, is urgently needed.
In conclusion, my delegation would like to share the vision that we should all seek to work for a world free of the unprecedented human disaster of HIV/AIDS — a world in which HIV/AIDS transmission is substantially reduced; where there is affordable treatment; where there is a substantial reduction in individual and collective vulnerability to the epidemic; where there is a significant alleviation of the adverse impact of the disease on individuals, communities and nations; and where the silence surrounding the disease is broken for ever, thereby sharply reducing the stigma and denial that have stifled resolution. Indonesia believes that this vision can be achieved only through partnership, and we thus support the recommendation that the Economic and Social Council should encourage UNAIDS in its efforts to develop a global strategy based upon this shared vision. I sincerely believe that only through such a multisectoral approach, promoted through partnership, can HIV/AIDS be successfully combated in Africa, development successfully fostered and peace and security successfully ensured.
I thank the representative of Indonesia for his comments, which I greatly appreciate.
We have 12 speakers remaining on the list for the closing section of this meeting. Before we continue with the list, I would like to invite Dr. Peter Piot to respond on behalf of the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS to what he has heard so far today, reserving the right, of course, for him to make additional comments after he has heard the remaining speakers.
Thank you, Mr. President, for the opportunity to make a few very brief follow-up points. As you said, I am speaking on behalf of Jim Wolfensohn, Mark Malloch Brown, and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) partners.
I think we are faced with a great opportunity, and I would like to assure the Council of our collective determination to do our part. In response to your specific requests, Mr. President, and those of Security Council members, we will follow up on at least six specific points.
First, we must deliver on our commitment, growing out of the Secretary-General’s meeting of 6 December on the International Partnership against AIDS in Africa, to have reached agreement by May among African Governments, donor Governments, the United Nations system, non-governmental organizations and the private sector on a specific plan for a major intensification and mobilization to address the epidemic in Africa.
Secondly, in response to your specific request, Sir, and that of the Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom, we will also ensure that there is systemic coordination between the development of this Partnership and the Security Council.
Thirdly, we will work with the presidency of the Security Council in follow-up to this meeting to work through the details of how appropriate and regular follow-up with the Security Council should be implemented.
Fourthly, in response to the request of the Permanent Representatives of the United Kingdom and France, we will intensify clearing-house efforts within the United Nations and ensure the flow of current information to all of the member States on the international response and report to the Council within one month.
Fifthly, we will also put forward a specific plan of partnership for addressing AIDS in emergencies and in the uniformed services within two months.
Last, we will be very pleased to follow up in writing individual questions raised by Security Council members, as requested.
This is a bold step the Security Council has taken today. Good luck to us all.
I would ask all representatives in the room whose Permanent Representatives are not here any more to inform them of the six undertakings that we have just heard from the head of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. I would ask the Assistant Secretary-General to bring them to the attention of the Secretary-General and other people.
I hope this means the beginning of a deepened and greater collaboration between elements within the United Nations family. I commend Dr. Piot for his involvement today and I hope that we will be seeing him again in the Security Council in the future. The same, of course, goes for Mark Malloch Brown.
The next speaker is the representative of Cuba. I invite him to take a seat at the Council table and to make his statement.
Cuba hopes this debate will contribute to mobilizing the international community to make integrated efforts to assist Africa and that it will help relevant bodies of the United Nations to surmount obstacles that affect the fulfilment of their mandates and programmes. It will be productive if, in essence, it helps the will of the industrialized countries to be expressed in reality and the appropriation of resources.
Public opinion should not assume that the United Nations has only just discovered how serious this epidemic in Africa is. Ignorance is not the cause of its inaction. In general, there are no new data or ideas. The growth of the epidemic and the consequences we are seeing were foreseen years ago. At a debate right here, on 29 September 1999, these matters were addressed, though no apparent progress has been made.
We understand with profound and painful realism that there will be no solutions without economic development. Africa would have to spend more than $57 billion dollars a year just for anti-retroviral drugs for current patients and, if the developed countries’ therapeutic schemes were to be followed, they would cost more than $250 billion. Today, Africa can barely spend $10 per capita on health, which in some countries constitutes one ninth of their debt service.
Forty-four per cent of Africans — more than half of the sub-Saharan African population — live in conditions of absolute poverty. Eight million African refugees scarcely receive care or resources. Equally serious are the malaria epidemic and the deaths of millions of people from hunger and curable or preventable diseases. Every year, 4.7 million Africans die of infectious and parasitic diseases, 92 times the number of deaths by the same cause in Western Europe. Life expectancy is expected to drop to 45 years. More than one third of African countries is or has recently been in a conflict situation.
In 1998, Africa received less than $5 billion — 3 per cent of the world’s total — in direct foreign investments. Its current account deficit was $16 billion, over three times that of the previous year. The debt burden was up $350 billion, more than three times Africa’s exports of goods and services. Meanwhile, official development assistance accounts for only 0.23 per cent of the developed countries’ gross domestic product.
Development will be impossible and there will be no structural or lasting solutions to the AIDS problem in Africa unless the unjust and unsustainable world order that we are suffering under today changes. It is imperative that palliatives be found to the epidemic by means of the integrated efforts of the international community. The required resources can be contributed only by the developed countries, which control 86 per cent of the world’s gross domestic product, 82 per cent of exports, 68 per cent of investments and 74 per cent of telephones. AIDS in Africa, like hunger, is a problem of underdevelopment, not of security.
It is necessary to move on to facts. Cuba reiterates its proposal to establish a collaboration project through the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, the World Health Organization and other agencies and funds for sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean and Central America to confront AIDS, among other health problems, to which Cuba is ready to contribute medical personnel free of charge.
Cuba also reiterates its proposal to provide, free of charge, all the medical personnel required to launch an integrated and emergency health campaign in northern sub-Saharan Africa. We propose that the United Nations agencies, funds and programmes and the developed countries provide thereto the minimum indispensable resources, mainly medicines and medical equipment.
With one doctor and oral hydration salts, which cost just a few cents, a child’s life can be saved. The Cuban people, with the same feelings that cause them to shudder today and struggle for the fate of just one of their children illegally and arbitrarily held in the United States, will provide the doctor.
This effort is feasible and will not require many resources. Cuba has been undertaking it on its own, to the extent of its capacities, and currently has 43 medical teams in 11 countries, providing health care to over 10 million people. The expansion of this cooperation is currently under way. A Latin American University of Medical Sciences has been set up with a prospective enrolment of 6,000 students. Steps are being taken to establish medical schools with Cuban professors in two African countries. A vaccination campaign is being waged in Haiti. All the necessary college scholarships will be provided free of charge to the Caribbean countries.
Hundreds of African youths are studying in Cuba, where close to 27,000 professionals and technicians have graduated and more than 5,000 have been trained. As physicians and dentists alone, 1,165 have graduated. More than 80,000 Cuban civilian participants have served in Africa, nearly 25,000 of them in health care.
With political will and effective social programmes, the exploitation of resources, the creation of effective and comprehensive health and education systems for the whole population, as well as equity in the distribution of wealth, a small, poor and blockaded country like Cuba can point to successful experience in AIDS treatment and control.
Since 1986 through 31 December 1999, 2,676 seropositive persons, 1,001 AIDS patients and 691 AIDS-related deaths have been reported. The epidemic has grown slowly and is considered to be a low-transmission one. Only 0.03 per cent of the population between the ages of 15 and 49 is infected.
All AIDS-infected Cubans enjoy thorough care; broad medical coverage, understanding and human solidarity; the right to confidentiality; and full respect for their private life. They are not discriminated against; they are guaranteed their right to work, social security and health care, generally through modern out-patient treatment. Their legal status is respected and the enjoyment and exercise of their human rights are ensured. Health-related education is effective and universal. The Cuban AIDS-vaccine project, now in the phase of clinical testing in humans, is among the most advanced worldwide. May our experience, which we humbly and modestly present, serve as an opportunity to demonstrate that this effort is feasible.
The United Nations has to act. The General Assembly should define policies and mandates for an urgent and integrated effort in Africa, either through the special session proposed today or otherwise. The World Health Organization (WHO), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other agencies, funds and programmes must take immediate action. The Economic and Social Council should consider ways to provide effective coordination.
If humankind’s conscience is reflected in actions by Governments, if other international protagonists participate responsibly, if developed countries act altruistically, if it is understood that there will be no peace or development without peace and development in Africa and that in a globalized world the only future that can be built is a common one, then the fight against AIDS will be possible.
I thank the representative of Cuba for his strong contribution.
The next speaker inscribed on my list is the representative of Italy. I invite him to take a seat at the Council table and to make his statement.
Italy, speaking also as a member of the European Union, welcomes the initiative of the United States presidency of the Security Council, which enlarges the notion of insecurity and of the response of the international community by opening the agenda of this body, with clear priority granted to the challenges arising from the African continent, in the broader context of the initiatives by the Secretary-General and the General Assembly on Africa. Furthermore, the important statement of the President of the World Bank this morning delivers clear and authoritative confirmation of the need for an integrated international strategy, which the present initiative has emphasized.
Italy obviously subscribes to the statement made by the Portuguese Presidency of the European Union. Therefore, like a number of Permanent Representatives from other European Union member States who have already taken the floor, I will confine my remarks to a few factual comments and data on the specific contribution that Italy is planning to make for the year 2000 in the framework of the International Partnership against HIV/AIDS in Africa.
The Italian initiative is grounded in two specific areas of policy: first, the experience of Italy itself as a country which has been engaged with African countries for decades in development cooperation and official development assistance, specifically in fields related to health, scientific education and the environment; and secondly, the major flows of African immigrant workers that have moved to our country in the last 10 years, which have enhanced our ties with Africa.
Our integrated strategy of support for the national efforts of African countries is based on the scientific knowledge and therapies developed in my country through a yearly allotment of resources amounting to about $163 million since 1993 in the field of research and related contacts carried out by Italian institutions, academic bodies and specialized hospitals. This cooperation strategy will focus primarily on actions of prevention through vaccination programmes and education and communication campaigns in schools, workplaces and the media; epidemiological surveillance; decreasing the rate of maternal transmission; assistance to orphans and families affected by HIV/AIDS; capacity-building; personnel training; and research support.
The overall size of Italy’s financial contribution to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa will be approximately $20 million in the year 2000, and it will be channelled through multilateral and bilateral programmes. A contribution of $8 million will be provided to the World Health Organization, in addition to the disbursement of $2 million to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). Furthermore, bilateral emergency intervention amounting to about $5.5 million will be organized in the most affected African countries. Finally, we envisage, on a bilateral basis, about $4 million for a specific subregional programme for the Great Lakes area, in Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda. Wherever possible we shall seek to involve non-governmental organizations and local Italian communities in order to help build and consolidate a grass-roots approach.
We owe it to the African people affected by this scourge to deploy every means necessary to defeat the pandemic, without ignoring or disregarding the other serious problems affecting the African continent in the areas of basic needs, poverty, environment, infrastructure and development financing, which interact with this plight.
I apologize, Mr. Ambassador, for not having begun by welcoming you to the United Nations and to the Security Council. I know this is your first appearance here, Ambassador Vento. We welcome you. We are delighted you are with us.
The next speaker inscribed on my list is the representative of New Zealand. I invite him to take a seat at the Council table and to make his statement.
I have the honour to speak today on behalf of the following members of the South Pacific Forum: Australia, Fiji, the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu and New Zealand. Despite the length of this list, our statement is very short.
We welcome the focus by the Security Council on the issue of AIDS and its impact on peace and security in Africa. We also endorse the broadening of participation of non-members in the work of this Council.
The sheer magnitude and severity of the AIDS epidemic in Africa warrants urgent attention. The spread of the disease in the region is, to borrow the words of the Executive Director of UNAIDS, nothing short of an unprecedented human disaster, eroding human, social and economic development and needing a response of emergency proportions.
In his 1998 report on the causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa (S/1998/318), the Secretary-General recognized that AIDS and the public health crisis facing Africa have serious consequences for the economic and social progress which is central to reducing conflict in the region.
AIDS is a global problem. It does not recognize national borders. It is therefore imperative that a concerted global effort be made by the international community to combat this disease around the world, but the scale of the problem in Africa makes that region’s needs unique.
Through our membership in United Nations funds and programmes and the specialized agencies active in this field, the countries of the South Pacific will continue to support all efforts for effective measures to combat the spread of this disease.
Our South Pacific region is about as distant from Africa as can be. But as they face these awesome challenges, we would like to underline our solidarity with our friends in Africa.
I thank the representative of New Zealand for his kind words about this meeting.
The next speaker is the representative of Zambia. I invite him to take a seat at the Council table and to make his statement. May I say how much we are looking forward to the arrival in New York, in less than two weeks, of his President to join us in this historic set of meetings on Africa.
My delegation is particularly grateful for the fact that the first Council meeting of the new millennium has dealt with this high-profile discussion on the AIDS pandemic in Africa. We thank you very much, Mr. President, for making this possible.
There is no doubt that the AIDS epidemic is having a negative impact on the sustainable development of African countries. It destroys the most productive sector of African populations. Technicians, teachers, factory workers, doctors — all fall victim to this pandemic. Virtually no aspect of public or private life remains untouched by its devastating impact. The disruption of the social fabric of African communities is immense. The numbers of orphaned children, street kids and households headed by teenagers who are themselves HIV-positive are all on the increase throughout Africa. The AIDS scourge is threatening the very foundations of African societies, threatening economic and social stability and, in the end, leading to political instability throughout the continent. In this new millennium, HIV/AIDS will constitute the key factor that will determine the pace and quality of our development, well-being and survival.
It is clear from what we have heard this morning and this afternoon that the AIDS pandemic presents the greatest challenge not only to Africa, but to the international community as a whole. A number of responses have been offered by many speakers today. However, my delegation would like to emphasize several points.
I will start with African countries. In this regard, the most important first step, as we see it, is political commitment. We must recognize the disease for what it is: a threat to our very survival as viable nations. Secondly, we must step up the effort that we are engaged in to discontinue traditional or cultural practices that encourage the spread of HIV/AIDS. Thirdly, we must reduce the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS. We must embrace people living with AIDS and recognize them as equal members of society. The conspiracy of silence must be broken and we must begin treating AIDS like any other disease that must be openly confronted. Fourthly, AIDS education should form an essential part of the curricula in our schools. We must openly discuss, in the workplace, the prevention and treatment of AIDS, and care for those living with AIDS. Education not only removes the stigma on the AIDS condition but also leads to favourable and positive change in behaviour patterns by groups most at risk.
The next stage in the fight against the AIDS pandemic is international support. The world and Africa must fight the disease as partners. International partnerships in research activity and treatment already in place must be strengthened, improved and better coordinated. In the end, however, it is the lack of financial resources that is proving the greatest obstacle to success in the war against AIDS. At this juncture, my delegation would like to thank the United States Government for the contribution which the Vice-President announced this morning to the global war against the AIDS pandemic. We must hope that this example will be emulated by other Governments and international financial institutions.
The next track of international support to Africa lies in a renewed commitment to increase official development assistance to Africa. In this regard, it is our belief that development assistance from donors could include specific components for AIDS-related activities. There is also the eternal problem of the debt burden of African countries. Scarce resources continue to be spent on servicing the debt. If the war against AIDS is to be meaningful, a comprehensive and lasting solution must be urgently found to the debt problem. Creditor nations have the capacity and the will to bring about positive change and make a difference in this regard.
The last area in which international support is required is treatment and drugs. Africa must have access to affordable drugs that prolong the lives of people with HIV, together with treatment for opportunistic infections that occur in people with AIDS. There are also the problems of dual infections, such as HIV infection concurrent with tuberculosis or with other sexually transmitted diseases. There is also the problem of mother-to-child transmission. All of these can be prevented only if appropriate and affordable drugs are available.
The Zambian delegation values the discussion that has taken place today on a subject that is so vital to human development, and my delegation shares your hope, Mr. President, that the dialogue that has begun today will be continued in the Council’s later work.
We have only a few speakers left. I am optimistic that if we move rapidly we will finish shortly. If any representatives wish to make any concluding observations, they will, of course, be welcome to do so.
The next speaker on my list is the representative of Cyprus. I invite him to take a seat at the Council table and to make his statement.
My delegation aligns itself with the statement made on behalf of the European Union. However, I would like to make a few additional remarks. I wish at the outset to express my Government’s appreciation for your initiative, Mr. President, to convene this open meeting of the Security Council. We are encouraged by the fact that the Vice-President of the United States, Mr. Al Gore, opened this first Council meeting of the year 2000 and by his pledge of increased United States contributions. We share the concern expressed by the Secretary-General at this grave humanitarian emergency facing the world, particularly in Africa, with the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Cyprus considers the discussion in the Security Council to be a good opportunity for refocusing the attention of the international community and its commitment to confronting this pandemic, as well as to supporting Africa’s endeavours for economic and social development, which is inextricably linked with strengthening regional peace and security. The AIDS epidemic is a serious threat to mankind, and especially to Africa, since, as was so grimly pointed out, it takes more African lives each year than all the conflicts in that region combined. We also express our particular concern about the rising number of infected children and women.
We hope that the dialogue that is being initiated today in the Security Council will address not only the major scientific and medical challenges which remain but also the socio-economic consequences in many countries. We need, however, to go beyond discussions and pursue effective solutions and practical responses. Sub-Saharan Africa is experiencing a disproportionately high level of the epidemic, which is causing great human and material suffering. We must also address the need to invigorate the efforts to make scientific discoveries and to provide solutions to stop the transmission of the disease. Efforts to develop a vaccine which will not be costly and will not have severe side effects must be intensified. In this respect, I would also stress the need for HIV screening of blood donors.
Over the years, through the efforts of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and of international and regional conferences, many of the taboos and myths about HIV have been dispelled. It is important that, on such a sensitive issue, people be provided with the necessary knowledge and health information, which will act as the best preventive measure.
While our specific discussion concerns the region of Africa, we must not lose sight of the fact that AIDS is an international epidemic which requires a global response based on a common strategy, solidarity and compassion, as well as close coordination between Governments, non-governmental organizations, including organizations dealing with people living with HIV/AIDS, religious organizations and the business community. Of course the United Nations role remains indispensable.
Speaking about international cooperation on this issue, I would like to stress once again the need for helping Africa overcome its serious economic problems, which, despite progress in some countries, still persist. Noting the courage and the burden carried by African countries in pursuing economic reform, we believe that the international community should redouble its efforts to alleviate the suffering of millions of people in the continent.
Special attention should be given to debt relief and the needs of the least developed countries and other African countries that are in danger of marginalization. Part of the savings resulting from debt relief can be effectively utilized for awareness campaigns about HIV/AIDS and for better infrastructure to assist the victims of this disease.
Being so close to Africa, we have always had strong ties with the African peoples. These special bonds were forged during the decolonization era and by the presence of Cypriot communities in many African countries. Cyprus, within its capabilities, has consistently offered assistance to African countries. In particular, the Cyprus Government is providing scholarships for graduate and post-graduate programmes in various fields, as well as special programmes such as nursing. We pledge our continued support to the efforts of the international community, in solidarity with Africa, to confront the AIDS pandemic and to strengthen peace, cooperation and development in the continent.
I thank the representative of Cyprus for his kind words addressed to me.
I also thank him for staying well within the five-minute recommendation, as I should have likewise thanked the representative of New Zealand.
The next speaker inscribed on my list is the representative of Nigeria. I invite him to take a seat at the Council table and to make his statement.
As much as I am tempted to speak without my prepared speech, I find that in order to save time it would be wise to confine myself to my prepared text.
On behalf of the Government and the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I thank you most sincerely, Mr. President, for convening this dialogue in the Security Council on the situation in Africa and the impact of AIDS and security. The fact that no less a person than the Vice-President of the United States presided over the proceedings today underscores the importance your country attaches to the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa. In this regard, the financial commitments announced by the Vice-President are welcome.
The Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, deserves special commendation for his statement, which not only painted a true and pathetic picture of the scourge of HIV/AIDS in Africa but also called for urgent international action to save mankind from the looming catastrophe.
As my President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, recently reminded the General Assembly, Africa is bearing the brunt of this terrible disease, which now kills about 2 million people annually on the continent. Indeed, it has overtaken malaria as Africa’s major primary health-care problem. In fact, the World Health Organization report released last November showed that of the 5.6 million people in the world diagnosed with HIV last year, 70 per cent were in Africa, and nowhere is the rate of HIV infection growing faster than in Africa.
The impact of HIV/AIDS is multidimensional. That it threatens the security of any nation cannot be in doubt. Demographically, the population is incrementally decimated or, at best, debilitated. Economically, the labour force suffers attrition, thereby paralysing national productivity, economic growth and sustainable development. It destroys communities by generating social disharmony. The physical defence of the nation is not spared either, as the manpower needed to secure nations’ territorial integrity is most adversely affected. Even the residual population is systematically whittled down through death from this pandemic. Women and children are not spared. The worst impact of all is the looming extinction of entire populations of nations.
It is now scientifically well established that this killer disease does not respect national boundaries. It thus poses a serious and real threat to humanity and universal security. Global statistics have not shown any nation, developed or developing, to be free from HIV/AIDS. But its prevalence in Africa, a continent of 53 developing countries and toddling economies clamped down by huge external debt overhang and lack of technically skilled human resources, deserves urgent national and international joint action to find solutions and work towards the eradication of this global scourge.
What must be done? As one of its new national priorities, Nigeria has renewed its commitment to the crusade against HIV/AIDS at various levels. President Obasanjo has assumed personal leadership of the campaign against HIV/AIDS in Nigeria. Indeed, the cabinet committee on HIV/AIDS was inaugurated this morning in Nigeria. Policies are being reviewed to ensure a more favourable environment for HIV/AIDS control. More stakeholders are being mobilized in the response against HIV/AIDS through the Expanded National Response to AIDS (ENRA). More funds are being allocated to our national AIDS programmes. The media awareness campaign is being intensified at all levels of government, with an active response from both local and international non-governmental organizations. HIV surveillance has been intensified to define the determinants and driving force of the epidemic.
The Nigerian Government hopes that access to information and the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, combined with access to curative drugs, will have a positive impact at the grass-roots level of society to stem the spread of the disease. It is of the view that HIV/AIDS-diagnosed persons must not be stigmatized and treated as outcasts of society. They need understanding and therefore must be encouraged to be open about their affliction, as this is the only way to ensure that the problem is adequately tackled at all levels. Education and information therefore must play vital roles for the containment and the subsequent eradication of this global problem.
Such national efforts as these stand to achieve little, given the enormity of the pandemic and the socio-economic and scientific hindrances prevalent in the African continent. Just as the impact of AIDS is multidimensional, so should the solution to it take into account not only the aspect of medical cure but also the concomitant hindrances that militate against Africa’s efforts to rid itself of disease and develop its people and its economies.
Africa has been ravaged by intractable armed conflicts, disease, poverty and so on. As if the devastating effects of those things were not enough, HIV/AIDS has been added to its woes. The HIV/AIDS pandemic, which threatens mankind with extinction — and especially today in Africa — together with armed conflicts, deserves no less attention from the Security Council than the use or threat of nuclear weaponry in any part of the world, which is rightly regarded as a threat to international peace and security. Nigeria therefore hopes that the results of this discussion today will mark the beginning of the establishment of concrete action plans to address this very urgent world problem.
Encouraged by the goodwill of the global partnership against AIDS, we believe that the issues of AIDS and armed conflicts, with all their impact on the African situation, will be accorded the status of an international security agenda item, which they deserve and which, we also believe, fall within the competence of the Security Council.
I thank the representative of Nigeria for his important statement. If there is no objection, I would ask him to convey, on behalf of the entire Security Council, our congratulations to President Obasanjo for the new HIV committee that he established today in Nigeria.
The next speaker inscribed on my list is the representative of Australia. I invite her to take a seat at the Council table and to make her statement.
Australia is extremely concerned about the continuing advance of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa and elsewhere. We associate ourselves fully with the South Pacific countries’ statement to the Council.
I have a prepared statement, which I will circulate. I wish simply to highlight several points.
The priority that Australia accords the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa is reflected in our aid programme. Despite the fact that our international development effort is primarily directed towards the Asia and Pacific region, Africa does receive a high proportion of our global HIV/AIDS expenditure. As a relatively small donor in Africa, we will continue to direct a significant proportion of our overall aid to Africa towards HIV/AIDS and to do our best to play a supporting role in this area.
We have committed ourselves to spending $10 million over four years to help fight HIV/AIDS in southern and eastern Africa in particular. Our HIV/AIDS programme in Africa targets rural communities and the more vulnerable members of society, including women and children. In implementing the programme, we are working very closely with the Governments of African countries, with multilateral agencies and especially with local non-governmental organizations — not something that I have heard a great deal about in today’s discussion, but an aspect that we think is very important in the effective implementation of programmes.
In our future bilateral projects, we will continue to seek to strengthen partner Governments’ capacity to engage in long-term planning to address the social and economic impact of the epidemic. In that respect, I have heard many speakers place emphasis on the value of research, and they have particularly emphasized the importance of medical research. But for our part we think that there is very important research that needs to be done in other areas and which should be maintained. The sort of thing I am thinking of is the kind of study that was done at the Australian National University by the demographics area, which was a 10-year study of AIDS in Africa. That produced very important data — things like studies of life expectancy in Zimbabwe, which has been reduced from the 50 years expected in the year 2000 to now 37 years. That sort of data is very important for us all to be factoring into our long-term planning to deal with the AIDS pandemic.
We wish also to place particular focus in our strategies on youth and on mothers at risk of transmitting HIV to their children. One initiative that we have taken recently which may be of interest is to fund something called an “optimal feeding practices programme” to reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission in southern Africa.
I would like to make three final points that are not in my written statement but are in response to matters raised in the discussion today, which I have found extremely valuable.
First, I have noticed a constant interest in best-practice lessons learned and in education and awareness-raising. The focus of this discussion today is Africa, but AIDS is present in Australia and in our region, and we have very well-developed national and regional programmes at those levels that we would wish to share and to draw on, in consultation particularly with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS.
In that respect, references to the clearing house and the response that Peter Piot gave earlier in the day underline, I think, the importance of that concept’s being developed and refined further, picking up on many of the points made in today’s debate.
The second point is that I detected a certain impatience, perhaps, towards the end of the day, with a long list of speakers, a certain diminishing attention span, and I noted the comment by our colleague from the United Kingdom that just the very fact that we have had this debate was probably enough. And perhaps there has been some repetition. But from the viewpoint of non-members of the Council in particular, and of non-African Member States, there are two very valuable things about having a long list of speakers. First, it involves us in the business of the Council as non-members, and secondly, it is really important, not just that we are raising awareness here, but that Member States speak and can convey statements back to their own Governments.
Donor countries need to sensitive, galvanize and mobilize our own communities in the support for AIDS, and this sort of debate has an enormously beneficial impact on helping us to sensitize our own communities, not just the international community. After all, democratic Governments are going to act only in response to pressures from their communities and from their electorates.
The third point is that the Permanent Representative of Jamaica referred in her statement to peacekeeping. I hope that Member States will bear what she said in mind at the resumed session of the Fifth Committee in May and June, which focuses on peacekeeping finance. I make that point not just because I am the Chairman of the Fifth Committee, but because one of the problems with the United Nations is that we over-compartmentalize our work, and what Member States say and do in one forum and one part of this system does not necessarily flow through to their actions in other parts of the United Nations.
What I would hope, in picking up the challenge that Jeremy Greenstock laid down, and in asking what we are going to do to follow up and where is the follow-through, is that we will make an active and determined effort to examine how what we have said here as Member States is reflected in the decisions and the actions that we take elsewhere, whether it be in the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva or the Commission on the Status of Women — which is especially important in view of the vulnerability of women, to which so many people have referred — whether it be in the meetings of executive boards or in the decisions that are being made about resource allocation, in committees dealing with peacekeeping or in the preparations for the Millennium Summit.
There have been a lot of calls here for people to be creative and committed, but I think that we have to be opportunistic and look at everything we are doing in this House and in this Organization to give reflection to the sort of concerns that have been expressed here, and that we should be consistent in what we say and do as Member States in addressing this epidemic and the threat that it represents to international stability and security.
I wish to comment on one thing that Ambassador Wensley said, which is quite important. She spoke of over-compartmentalization at the United Nations. Nothing underlines more what we are trying to do than that comment, because we are trying to break down those compartmentalizations. With respect to the six undertakings mentioned in Peter Piot’s statements, we will also move in that direction.
First of all, Mr. President, I wish to congratulate you on your assumption of the presidency of the Council. Your initiative, as President, to focus attention this month on African issues is a most welcome sign of hope in the Council in addressing the often-justified criticism of its record in handling African issues. We wish you success in your endeavours.
To come back to the issue before the Council, namely the impact of AIDS on peace and security in Africa, much has been said by representatives and participants in today’s Council meeting in stressing the fact that combating AIDS is of vital importance and urgency to all nations, as this scourge poses socio-economic as well as political and security challenges with serious implications.
Since the time of its emergence, the spread of HIV and AIDS has been dramatic, especially in Africa. Of the estimated more than 34 million HIV-positive people worldwide, about 21 million are from the African continent. What this means is that the demographic, economic and social effects, as well as the national security impact, of AIDS on our countries in Africa are enormous. The epidemic consumes our potential and forces us to divert our meagre resources from our development endeavours to AIDS-related activities.
AIDS affects every social group in our societies. It is taking the lives of our citizens, be they old or young, educated or uneducated, rich or poor. AIDS does not discriminate, but the young are the most frequent victims of this disease. As this sector of the population constitutes the skilled manpower in any nation, the impact of the loss of the young on economic and social development can hardly be over-emphasized. The number of children infected or orphaned by AIDS is ever increasing.
In sum, AIDS is a threat to present and future generations. Here lies the seriousness of the challenges and of the threat it poses to human security and survival, if not met with an urgent and adequate response. The AIDS epidemic undermines our efforts to build our economy and frustrates our people’s hopes and aspirations to make a decent life. Above all, it deprives our children of their parents, our men and women of their ability to care for their families, and our countries of the enterprise and ingenuity of a whole generation.
Although AIDS can be seen largely as a medical problem, its consequences and impact on nations are complex and alarmingly serious. Therefore, the responsibility for finding solutions requires a comprehensive approach at all levels. As underlined by many speakers, in order to fight AIDS effectively, partnership between Government agencies, non-governmental organizations, the business community, private citizens, HIV-infected people and AIDS activist groups is essential. Communities and Governments should work hand-in-hand to find a solution.
In Ethiopia, efforts to contain the spread of HIV/AIDS through public awareness campaigns have been made since the mid- 1980s. Accordingly, in 1987 a National AIDS Control Programme was established within the Ministry of Health. To complement the effort of the Programme some civic groups undertook awareness-creation activities on effects of AIDS. However, the efforts could not produce the desired results. In recognition of this reality the Government of Ethiopia formulated an HIV/AIDS policy aimed at creating an environment conducive to enhanced partnership among the Government, the civil society and the international community to fight the disease. Currently, in order to mobilize all resources of the society, the Federal Government is focusing on a comprehensive programme and is in the process of establishing a national council to monitor its implementation. To bring about the desired results, these efforts require international support and assistance. This is also true of all other African countries.
As the Secretary-General pointed out this morning, the HIV/AIDS epidemic is not only an African problem. It is global, and as such its prevention and eradication require the commitment and action of all nations. It is our earnest hope that this meeting of the Council, opened by the Vice-President of the United States of America, with the participation of heads of important institutions such as the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) will pave the way for more effective and coordinated international cooperation and action in the fight against HIV/AIDS. We welcome the announcement by Vice-President Gore that the United States will devote additional resources to the fight against AIDS worldwide.
International support and assistance to Africa is indispensable to its efforts to fight the HIV/AIDS scourge. While Africa at present faces the heaviest burden of HIV/AIDS of any part of the globe, the assistance and support it has received thus far is very disappointing, as rightly illustrated by Dr. Peter Piot, Executive Director of UNAIDS.
The response by the international community to the HIV/AIDS challenge in Africa should be concrete and practical. While support to African countries to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS is important and urgent, ensuring affordable access to effective treatment and addressing the various socio-economic impacts of HIV/AIDS remain urgent tasks to be undertaken.
I thank you for your kind words. The next speaker is the representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I invite him to take a seat at the Council table and make his statement.
Mr. President, your presidency of the Security Council for this month has been placed under the sign of Africa. My delegation would therefore like to congratulate you for this praiseworthy initiative and take this opportunity to express our hope, which is entirely legitimate, that during this month many scourges now afflicting the African continent will begin to be solved in a concrete and credible way.
My delegation would like to congratulate you as well for having organized this special Security Council meeting particularly devoted to the struggle against HIV/AIDS in Africa. The opening of the meeting by the Vice-President of the United States of America is undoubtedly a sign of the growing interest his country has in committing the international community as a whole to an effective campaign against this virus which is decimating the entire continent.
My delegation shares your view, Mr. President, when you say that the devastating figures on AIDS in Africa demonstrate that this is much more than a question of health. It is truly a question of security, as well as of the deteriorating economy and of poverty, because by decimating elites and creating millions of orphans, this disease is in effect creating and provoking economic and social crises which destabilize fragile societies and give rise to armed conflicts which themselves help to spread AIDS.
In sub-Saharan Africa, a region of which my country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is part, the AIDS pandemic is now undergoing its greatest spread. The Governments of the region have indeed committed themselves to struggle to find various ways of preventing even greater spread. They continue to seek even more effective means to reduce the effects of AIDS, despite the enormous difficulties they are undergoing due to limited resources, which are always on a downward curve, to poverty and to all types of wars. Thus, my delegation welcomes the measures announced today by the Vice-President of the United States while expressing our hope that they will be put into effect quickly.
In the past, my country was in the forefront of the struggle against AIDS in Central Africa. Benefiting from consistent bilateral and multilateral cooperation, it developed with the assistance of the donor community an AIDS project which seriously attacked the effects of the virus and which was a success mainly in the field of prevention and access to information about AIDS.
Unfortunately, in 1991 and 1993 my country underwent large-scale pillaging which destroyed that infrastructure. Furthermore, the nameless embargo which my country has suffered for more than a decade has made obsolete any hope of resumption of this cooperation, which was nevertheless beneficial to all the Congolese people.
In 1994, my country was the unwilling host of millions of refugees who came mainly from neighbouring Rwanda. Their presence on our soil was a disaster ecologically, socially and economically. In the eastern provinces this undesired presence was also the vector of sexually transmitted diseases and very clearly of the HIV/AIDS virus as well.
Since 2 August 1998, my country has been undergoing the horrors of aggression on the part of an armed coalition of the regular forces of Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi. This war, with its accompanying suffering, displaced populations and new flows of refugees living in extremely precarious sanitary conditions, is a major contribution to the spread of AIDS.
However, it is true that during the past year the leading cause of death in my country has remained malaria, closely followed by the direct victims of war and of AIDS. But the impact of this war should not be underestimated. At the present time, both in the occupied provinces and the free zones, war is the main source of the general deterioration of the living conditions of the Congolese people, thus making it difficult, even impossible, for our people to have access to such things as basic health care. The Congolese people have thus become a feeding ground for all sorts of diseases, including viruses that had been unsuspected until very recently — the Ebola virus and the Marburg virus — and for which, just as for AIDS, there is no vaccine.
The war has also witnessed an increase in a military practice that, to say the least, is of a strange nature, practised by the armed forces of Uganda — that is, the sending into the field of operations thousands of AIDS-infected or seropositive soldiers whose mission is to rape women and young girls in order to spread AIDS. The international community is duty-bound to end this crime against humanity committed by Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda on the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
This month of Africa and this year of the millennium provide the Security Council with an opportunity to shoulder its responsibilities with full knowledge of the facts in order to allow the Democratic Republic of the Congo to confront the twenty-first century with optimism. The international community is also duty-bound to assist the Democratic Republic of the Congo in its efforts to return to peace, to bring about an economic recovery and reconstruction of its infrastructure, including health and medical reconstruction, so that present and future Congolese generations can again hope for a better and more radiant future.
The next speaker inscribed on my list is the representative of Senegal. I invite him to take a seat at the Council table and to make his statement.
I would firstly like to thank you, Mr. President, for having taken the initiative of including the important question of AIDS on the Council’s agenda. Everything has been very well said by the Vice-President of the United States, the African Ministers, the United Nations Secretary-General and the previous speakers. My privileged position as the last speaker means that I can be very brief at this very late hour of our discussions.
There can no longer be any doubt that the AIDS epidemic is far from being a simple public health problem. For our continent, which pays the heaviest price, this epidemic also poses a development problem, maybe even a problem for the future of the continent. It is good that the United Nations and the Security Council today have grasped the full magnitude of the threat posed by this disease to the human development of the people of the continent and has decided to coordinate their efforts and those of United Nations agencies to tackle the problem.
Africans have not given up in the crusade against AIDS. They have deployed tremendous efforts to eliminate this disease, as was recalled by the Minister of Namibia a few moments ago.
Upon the initiative of Senegal in 1992, at the summit meeting of the Organization of African Unity in Dakar, a resolution was adopted that acknowledged AIDS as a real threat to the continent’s future and called upon the African States to do their utmost to curb the spread and impact of this scourge. My country committed itself very quickly to a broad, multisectoral and multidisciplinary response by setting up a national programme to fight AIDS. That programme benefited from a favourable structural situation in dealing with the disease and was fortunately supported by a Senegalese society imbued by moral, traditional and religious values.
From the health standpoint, the real preventive strategies were realized just after setting up the National AIDS Committee. Need I recall that it was in Senegal that researchers proved the existence of the HIV type 2 for the first time? In 1990, there already was general access in Senegal to condoms, the sale and distribution of which increased tenfold over the past ten years.
Insofar as information, education and communications are concerned, beginning in 1992, Senegal had included sex education for youth in primary and secondary school instruction on the spread of the AIDS virus and more than 130,000 schoolbooks devoted to the information, education and communication on AIDS were distributed in 1997 in public and private educational institutions. Hundreds of non-governmental organizations and associations of people living with AIDS were set up and have been participating in the struggle against AIDS. Political dialogue, training seminars and discussions led by community leaders, religious leaders, parliamentarians, professionals and journalists are some of the strategies in combating AIDS.
Senegal has also been at the forefront of this new struggle against AIDS, from the very outset of this thinking about introducing new strategies throughout the continent. This thinking has led to the UNAIDS initiative that has worked to the benefit of two African countries.
Out of concern for cohesiveness and continuity, Senegal has given supplementary financial assistance to make it possible for people who have AIDS to receive treatment. Because of the encouraging results obtained by my country in the crusade against AIDS, President Abdou Diouf was honoured by UNAIDS, together with his brother and friend, President Yoweri Mouseveni of Uganda. They received the first prize for excellence in the struggle against AIDS.
By way of conclusion, I should simply like to say that these efforts must be supported and reinforced. Vigilance must be the rule, for the history of these diseases teaches us that when vigilance drops, the infectious agents profit.
I should like to pay tribute to our international multilateral partners — notably, the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) — and our bilateral partners, who continue to support us in our struggle against AIDS. I am convinced that we will be able to rely on the fame and the influence of the Security Council to be our interpreter to all our partners and tell them how determined we are to ensure that future African generations will see a horizon free of the spectre of this pandemic that seriously compromises the chances for development, peace and stability on the African continent.
I thank the representative of Senegal for his special reference to the role of the Security Council on this issue, which certainly echoes the views of most of us here and, speaking as the American representative, our own.
There are no more speakers on my list. I would like to make some observations about what we have done today, but, with members’ permission, since we have been here now for nine hours, I would like to reserve those for the beginning of our Thursday meeting on refugees, when High Commissioner Ogata will be with us. The connection between refugees and this issue has been noted by several speakers today. I believe the Minister of Health of Namibia made a specific point of it, as did some others. There is thus a natural connection between them.