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HIV/AIDS and the Security Sector in Africa

image of HIV/AIDS and the Security Sector in Africa
Throughout history, communicable diseases have weakened the capacity of state institutions to perform core security functions, which compelled many African countries to initiate policies aimed at addressing the impact of HIV/AIDS on the armed forces, police and prisons. These policies address: 1) the role of peacekeepers in the spread or control of HIV, 2) public health versus human rights dilemma, 3) the gender dimensions of HIV in the armed forces, and 4) the impact of HIV on the police and prisons. While this volume does not address all aspects of the impact of HIV/AIDS on the security sector, the contributors nonetheless highlight the potentials and limits of existing policies in Africa’s security sector.

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A disorderly resolution of an organized conflict: The military dimension and the spread of HIV/AIDS in Sierra Leone

The conflict in Sierra Leone in the late 1980s that eventually led to a full-scale civil war between 1991 and 2002 was not exclusively devastating to Sierra Leone. The conflict impacted heavily on the sociopolitical situation in the neighbouring countries of Guinea and Liberia. Liberia fought a civil war between 1989 and 2003, and Guinea became home to millions of refugees who fled the wars in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Instability, an ailing economy and suspicion owing to the influx of refugees transformed Guinea into a state of uncertainty. While this instability prompted some observers and international organizations to characterize Guinea as a “failed state”, the conflicts in Liberia and Sierra Leone threatened the stability of the entire West African sub-region. However, among the most devastating results of the conflict, in both Sierra Leone and the region, were the human security implications of the ravages of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

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