HIV/AIDS is one of the greatest contemporary threats to global human security, and its rapid growth in parts of the Asia/Pacific region makes it a major concern for Australia. The Australian government has made it a priority to deal with both state failure and the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The vectors of the epidemic in the region have been researched in depth, which gives the opportunity to apply this knowledge to countering the expansion of the epidemic, however, the nexus between state failure and human security has hardly been explored.
The problem of how to effectively respond to failing and fragile states is quickly becoming a central security concern on the international agenda. State failure in Africa has seen the collapse of centralised authority over, and resource allocation to, institutions essential to the maintenance of societal well-being. The basic conditions required to guarantee human security, such as law and order and health services, break down, leading to a dramatic increase in suffering and ultimately death. The absence of stability that envelopes failed and fragile states undermines the chances of providing the most basic aspects of human security. In Africa the presence of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in states already weakened by civil war, famine and poverty exacerbates state failure and state failure exacerbates the spread of the epidemic.
More analysis is needed to examine what insights can be applied to efforts to ameliorate the threat of a vicious cycle between the epidemic and state failure being replicated in the region. There are interesting comparisons with the progress of the epidemic in Brazil and Eastern Europe, and this workshop would allow some comparative analysis to be broached. Suggestions of an emerging generalised epidemic in a number of Asian-Pacific countries, for instance China, India and Cambodia, mean that the responses will have to be different to those of developed countries where the epidemic has been more easily isolated and dealt with.
Pressing questions that will be discussed at the workshop include: Will the vicious cycle between state failure and the epidemic that is so strikingly evident in Africa be replicated in the Asia-Pacific region? What are the similarities and differences between the Asia/Pacific and other developing regions? How will larger global and national restraints influence the development of appropriate strategies to counter the epidemic in the region? How can government agencies be better coordinated to produce a whole of government approach to state failure and HIV/AIDS? How can government aid agencies and NGOs cooperate more effectively in dealing with state failure and HIV/AIDS?
The workshop will bring together academics and policy makers with a shared interest in HIV/AIDS, security and the Asia/Pacific who would otherwise not be likely to meet to discuss these issues. The program will encourage interdisciplinary perspectives to HIV/AIDS as a threat to human security. It will enhance the knowledge base for social science informed policy- and decision-making for both development strategies and for addressing the needs of vulnerable populations in South-East Asia. It builds directly on the initial contacts between UNESCO and the AIDS Society of Asia and the Pacific to further social science research on HIV in the region.