A new report focuses on the security
threats posed by HIV/AIDS some 30 years into the epidemic.
Security and Conflict, released Tuesday at The Hague, recommends ways to make
peacekeeping, peace building and humanitarian efforts more in tune with the
risks of the disease.
de Waal is principle investigator for the AIDS, Security and Conflict Initiative
and program director at the Social Science Research Council in New York.
"Ten years ago when the Clinton administration
raised HIV/AIDS as a security issue, there were fears that the pandemic,
particularly in the hardest hit countries in Africa, would bring about state
crisis, state collapse, the collapse of armies, simply because so many
individuals were infected," he says.
concerns, he says, were reinforced following the September 11th
terrorist attacks on the United States.
He says the Bush administration thought there would be "more ungoverned
spaces on the planet in which terrorism and anarchy could foster."
U.N. Security Council made HIV/AIDS a top priority in its first debate in the
21st Century in January 2000 "at the instigation of the United
Change of perception since then
know a lot more about HIV/AIDS and security.
The epidemic has evolved and there have also been some very major
responses to it, not the least the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief,
PEPFAR," he says.
of the worst fears failed to materialize.
alarmism of a decade ago has dissipated.
States are not collapsing. Armies
are not imploding. But there is a host
of issues that we still need to be concerned about," he says.
include violence against women in conflict situations, such as the many
thousands of women who've been raped and sexually assaulted in the eastern DRC.
woman who is exposed to acts of sexual violence is at a greater risk of
receiving HIV. The act of violence
itself is an increased risk factor. And
very often the men who perpetrate these acts are themselves at high risk of
being infected with HIV," he says.
the transition from war to peace can be a risk factor for countries. Many people that had been isolated in a
refugee camp may not have been exposed as much to HIV as those in the general
population. But with the end of the
conflict, refugees and displaced people return home.
may see a lot of investment going into certain town. They may become boom towns. They may attract sex workers. They may attract impoverished young women,
who get drawn into sex work," he says.
returning home may bring HIV with them.
Waal also says in some cases, HIV/AIDS is being "driven underground."
most countries of the world, we see that the epidemic is concentrated amongst
groups that are on the margins of the law or beyond those margins -- people
like injecting drugs users, like sex workers, like gay men in countries where
homosexuality is illegal."
says these populations are often stigmatized, marginalized and even
rarely have interaction with the authorities that are straight forward and
open. And therefore, they are difficult
to access, difficult to gain the confidence," he says.
it's more difficult to provide them with care and treatment.
of our recommendations is for a greater focus on sexual and gender-based
violence across the board. Another…is to
do with the uniform services…. The most
effective methods for controlling HIV and AIDS in armies and uniform services
is when responsibility is vested, not so much in the medical services, but in
the command of those institutions," he says.
includes not only national armies, but peacekeeping forces and police, as well.
report calls for support for local governments in countries hard hit by the
states themselves may not be in crisis, very often…local government services
are affected," he says.
The report is a joint project of the
Social Science Research Council and the Clingendael Institute for International
Relations at The Hague.