USA Today Profiles Richard Holbrooke, President of the Global Business Council on HIV/AIDSUSA Today profiles former U.N. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, who now serves as the president of the Global Business Council on HIV/AIDS. Holbrooke first became involved in HIV/AIDS issues after he witnessed the effect the disease was having on southern Africa during a 1999 U.N. trip to discuss the war in the Republic of the Congo. Holbrooke, along with Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), visited 10 nations to discuss the war and stopped at several HIV/AIDS programs during the trip. The visit and the devastation Holbrooke saw convinced him that HIV/AIDS constituted a threat to international security. During the plane ride home, Holbrooke called U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to request a Security Council meeting on the disease. Annan told him that the disease was not a "security issue," but Holbrooke persisted, and in January 2000 the Security Council convened for the first time to discuss a health issue. That session led to three subsequent Security Council meetings and an "unprecedented" U.N. resolution on HIV/AIDS among U.N. peacekeepers. In addition, the General Assembly called a special session on HIV/AIDS last June that led to the creation of the first-ever "global AIDS control plan."
Growing the GBC
Holbrooke, who brokered the Dayton Peace Accords as an assistant secretary of state under former President Clinton, took the reins of the GBC two years ago at the request of GBC Chair Bill Roedy, president of MTV International. Under Holbrooke's leadership, the GBC has expanded from about 20 member companies to 70 member companies, including such corporations as Coca-Cola, Anglo-American Mining Co., AOL Time Warner, DaimlerChrysler and MAC Cosmetics. Holbrooke has successfully convinced some companies, such as Coca-Cola, to use their resources to spread HIV/AIDS prevention messages but has been less successful in persuading companies to contribute large sums of money to HIV/AIDS initiatives. Businessman George Soros, who contributed $250,000 to the GBC, said Holbrooke may be "flirting with failure" because businesses "typically balk at providing such costly public services" as treatment for HIV-positive employees. But Holbrooke's wife, journalist Kati Marton, said she has "never seen a man so impervious to setbacks" and added that Holbrooke is "driven by a need to make what's left of his active years meaningful." The GBC tomorrow will host a gala to honor Roedy, who is stepping down as chair of the group later this year. He will be replaced by DaimlerChrysler Chair Juergen Schrempp. CBS News anchor Dan Rather will host the event, which will feature a benediction from Rev. Franklin Graham and speeches by Annan, Clinton and Michael Stipe of the rock group R.E.M. Hip-hop artist Wyclef Jean will perform at the event (Sternberg, USA Today, 6/11).