This guest blog was written by Dr. Inon Schenker, global health consultant with the Jerusalem AIDS Project in Jerusalem and a member of the Global Health Council delegation to the World Health Assembly.
GENEVA —The U.N. Security Council will be discussing and most probably adopting unanimously this summer a resolution on HIV/AIDS. We learned this breaking news in a meeting yesterday with senior UNAIDS officials. Hosting members of the GHC delegation to the World Health Assembly, led by Smita Baruah, our director for Government Relations, UNAIDS staff were happy to share this development.
In a meeting with Regina Castillo, head of Private Sector Partnerships at UNAIDS and others, it was clear that UNAIDS was pleased that the most influential organ of the UN system, which in most cases deals with issues of war, sanctions and peace is going to address a global health concern. This will be the second time the Security Council will be discussing HIV/AIDS. In 2001 it was the U.S. permanent representative to the U.N., the late Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, who achieved the historical discussion and resolution on AIDS — the first in the history of the Security Council.
Resolution 1308 was adopted on July 17, 2000. In that year for the first time an international AIDS conference was held in a developing country (Durban, South Africa), U.N. peacekeepers were targeted as potential disseminators of the virus, and drafts of the Millennium Development Goals declaration were already circulating.
UNAIDS was also under attack – the new director general of WHO, Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland decided to increase WHO’s role in the fight against HIV/AIDS and revisit the roles of UNAIDS. Dr. Peter Piot, then executive director of UNAIDS, working closely with then U.N. Secretary General Kofi Anan, will no doubt devote an interesting chapter to this period if his memoirs are published.
All these issues were articulately included in the resolution 1308. Yet, what was most important was the message that HIV/AIDS is not only a pandemic threatening the lives of individuals and breaking communities; but a major threat to global security and stability.
This year the Republic of Gabon is leading the way together with the U.S. when both countries are tabling the June 2011 Security Council resolution on AIDS. In June Gabon takes over the presidency of the Security Council which makes it an ultimate ally in pushing the discussion and decisions. Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba has made it very clear when visiting Geneva last month that he and his country are commited to playing a key role in efforts to scale up the AIDS response at the U.N. In a meeting with UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé, President Ondima was quoted: “It is irresponsible to think that AIDS is under control when 10 million people are in need of treatment and more than 7,000 people are becoming infected with HIV every day.”
It will be interesting to see the final language of the new resolution and hopes are that it could reinforce the current efforts to respond more effectively in the global fight against HIV/AIDS.