U.N. Peacekeeping:

United Nations Faces Challenges in Responding to the Impact of HIV/AIDS on Peacekeeping Operations

GAO-02-194: Published: Dec 12, 2001. Publicly Released: Dec 12, 2001.

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Last year, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution expressing concern that the conflicts and instability associated with peacekeeping operations produce condition that could increase the spread of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The resolution encouraged member states to educate peacekeeping personnel--including those who are HIV positive--on peacekeeping missions. The policies and guidance of the U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations discourage, but do not preclude, countries from sending individuals who are HIV positive on peacekeeping missions. This is consistent with the U.N. peacekeeper's code of conduct to do no harm. This is also consistent with the U.N.'s stated opposition to discrimination against those who are HIV positive. The number of HIV-positive peacekeepers is unknown because (1) the U.N. opposes mandatory HIV testing and collects no information on infection rates and (2) countries that contribute peacekeepers either do not test or do not share test results with the U.N. The U.N. has tried to reduce the spread of HIV during peacekeeping operations, but it faces immediate and long-term challenges. U.N. officials said that the U.N. has not given this effort enough priority and that it has been difficult to obtain funding for HIV prevention efforts. Moreover, little has been done to help civilian populations at risk of HIV infection from U.N. peacekeepers.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In its December 2001 report (UN Peacekeeping: United Nations Faces Challenges in Responding to the Impact Of HIV/AIDS on Peacekeeping Operations, (GAO-02-194), GAO recommended to the Secretary of State and the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations that they request the U.N. Secretary General and the Executive Director of UNAIDS to develop and conduct behavior surveys of U.N. peacekeeping contingents. These surveys would gather baseline and follow-up data on peacekeepers' knowledge and awareness of HIV/AIDS and their sexual behavior. The Secretary General and the Executive Director should then analyze information gathered from these surveys to measure the effectiveness of their efforts and identify which contingents are at highest risk of transmitting or contracting sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS. In response to the recommendation, UNAIDS and the Department of Peacekeeeping Operations (DPKO) undertook a survey in Sierra Leone, following the initial distribution and use of the AIDS Awareness Card, to assess its impact on AIDS awareness among UN peacekeeping contingents and conducted analysis of information gathered which demonstrated increased condom use among contingents. In addition, UNAIDS and DPKO continue to work to strengthen efforts to institutionalize and integrate their HIV/AIDS response by posting HIV/AIDS policy officers in major missions and issuing fact sheets on HIV/AIDS and UN Peacekeeping.

    Recommendation: To improve the United Nation's ability to (1) measure the effectiveness of activities aimed at reducing risky behaviors among peacekeepers and (2) identify which contingents are at highest risk of transmitting or contracting sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, at each mission, the Secretary of State and the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations should request the U.N. Secretary General and the Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS to develop and conduct behavior surveys of U.N. peacekeeping contingents to gather baseline and follow-up data on peacekeepers' knowledge and awareness of HIV/AIDS and their sexual behavior.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In its December 2001 report (UN Peacekeeping: United Nations Faces Challenges in Responding to the Impact Of HIV/AIDS on Peacekeeping Operations, (GAO-02-194), GAO recommended to the Secretary of State and the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations that they request the U.N. Secretary General and the Executive Director of UNAIDS to develop and conduct behavior surveys of U.N. peacekeeping contingents. These surveys would gather baseline and follow-up data on peacekeepers' knowledge and awareness of HIV/AIDS and their sexual behavior. The Secretary General and the Executive Director should then analyze information gathered from these surveys to measure the effectiveness of their efforts and identify which contingents are at highest risk of transmitting or contracting sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS. In response to the recommendation, UNAIDS and the Department of Peacekeeeping Operations (DPKO) undertook a survey in Sierra Leone, following the initial distribution and use of the AIDS Awareness Card, to assess its impact on AIDS awareness among UN peacekeeping contingents and conducted analysis of information gathered which demonstrated increased condom use among contingents. In addition, UNAIDS and DPKO continue to work to strengthen efforts to institutionalize and integrate their HIV/AIDS response by posting HIV/AIDS policy officers in major missions and issuing fact sheets on HIV/AIDS and UN Peacekeeping.

    Recommendation: To improve the United Nation's ability to (1) measure the effectiveness of activities aimed at reducing risky behaviors among peacekeepers and (2) identify which contingents are at highest risk of transmitting or contracting sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, at each mission, the Secretary of State and the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations should request the U.N. Secretary General and the Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS to develop and conduct behavior surveys of U.N. peacekeeping contingents to gather baseline and follow-up data on peacekeepers' knowledge and awareness of HIV/AIDS and their sexual behavior.

    Agency Affected: Department of State: United States Mission to the United Nations

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In its December 2001 report (UN Peacekeeping: United Nations Faces Challenges in Responding to the Impact Of HIV/AIDS on Peacekeeping Operations, (GAO-02-194), GAO recommended to the Secretary of State and the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations that they request the U.N. Secretary General and the Executive Director of UNAIDS to develop and conduct behavior surveys of U.N. peacekeeping contingents to gather baseline and follow-up data on peacekeepers' knowledge and awareness of HIV/AIDS and their sexual behavior, and analyze information gathered from these surveys to measure the effectiveness of their efforts and to identify which contingents are at highest risk of transmitting or contracting sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS. In response to the recommendation, UNAIDS and the Department of Peackeeeping Operations (DPKO) undertook a survey in Sierra Leone, following the initial distribution and use of the AIDS Awareness Card, to assess its impact on AIDS awareness among UN peacekeeping contingents and conducted analysis of information gathered which demonstrated increased condom use among contingents. In addition, UNAIDS and DPKO continue to work to strengthen efforts to institutionalize and integrate their HIV/AIDS response by posting HIV/AIDS policy officers in major missions and issuing fact sheets on HIV/AIDS and UN Peacekeeping.

    Recommendation: To improve the United Nation's ability to (1) measure the effectiveness of activities aimed at reducing risky behaviors among peacekeepers and (2) identify which contingents are at highest risk of transmitting or contracting sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, at each mission, the Secretary of State and the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations should request the U.N. Secretary General and the Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS to analyze information gathered from these surveys to measure the effectiveness of their efforts to identify which contingents are at highest risk of transmitting or contracting sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, at each mission to better target resources.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In its December 2001 report (UN Peacekeeping: United Nations Faces Challenges in Responding to the Impact Of HIV/AIDS on Peacekeeping Operations, (GAO-02-194), GAO recommended to the Secretary of State and the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations that they request the U.N. Secretary General and the Executive Director of UNAIDS to develop and conduct behavior surveys of U.N. peacekeeping contingents to gather baseline and follow-up data on peacekeepers' knowledge and awareness of HIV/AIDS and their sexual behavior, and analyze information gathered from these surveys to measure the effectiveness of their efforts and to identify which contingents are at highest risk of transmitting or contracting sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS. In response to the recommendation, UNAIDS and the Department of Peackeeeping Operations (DPKO) undertook a survey in Sierra Leone, following the initial distribution and use of the AIDS Awareness Card, to assess its impact on AIDS awareness among UN peacekeeping contingents and conducted analysis of information gathered which demonstrated increased condom use among contingents. In addition, UNAIDS and DPKO continue to work to strengthen efforts to institutionalize and integrate their HIV/AIDS response by posting HIV/AIDS policy officers in major missions and issuing fact sheets on HIV/AIDS and UN Peacekeeping.

    Recommendation: To improve the United Nation's ability to (1) measure the effectiveness of activities aimed at reducing risky behaviors among peacekeepers and (2) identify which contingents are at highest risk of transmitting or contracting sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, at each mission, the Secretary of State and the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations should request the U.N. Secretary General and the Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS to analyze information gathered from these surveys to measure the effectiveness of their efforts to identify which contingents are at highest risk of transmitting or contracting sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, at each mission to better target resources.

    Agency Affected: Department of State: United States Mission to the United Nations

 

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