Press Releases

    14 June 2002

    Fighting AIDS Combines Good Business With Doing Good, Secretary-General Tells Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS

    NEW YORK, 13 June (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of remarks by Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the programme for the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS Awards for Business Excellence 2002 in New York on 12 June:

    The fight against AIDS is one of the great challenges of our time. Experts now agree that HIV/AIDS is the worst epidemic humanity has ever faced. It has spread further, faster and with more catastrophic long-term effects than any other disease. Its impact has become a devastating obstacle to development.

    Behind each and every case of AIDS there lies a story -- a story of a family shattered, of a breadwinner's income lost, of an individual having to face down stigma, of mothers preparing their children for a life as orphans, of a struggle to maintain the dignity of everyday life.

    But globally there is also another, unfolding story --- a story of a world that is learning gradually not to turn its back on AIDS, but to face it squarely; to bring into the open the patterns of human behaviour that keep transmission going; to re-learn the lessons of global solidarity.

    We know that we are not powerless in the face of AIDS. Communities and nations the world over have demonstrated that it is possible to defeat HIV, through a combination of political leadership at the top and commitment to change across the whole of society.

    That includes the business community. Increasingly, companies recognize that fighting AIDS is in their interest -- that doing so combines good business with doing good. The Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS is a fine example of that - thanks to the leadership of Richard Holbrooke.

    The starting point for the business fight against AIDS is in the workplace, where companies can arm their employees with information that will protect them, and provide care and support to those infected.

    DaimlerChrysler in South Africa has made an outstanding contribution in that field, and that is why it richly deserves the 2002 GBC Awards for Business Excellence in the Workplace.

    Mr. Schrempp, your company's South African programme for prevention, care and treatment exemplifies the best kind of public-private partnership approach in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

    You have shown what can be achieved by facing this insidious enemy head-on and working together to defeat it. It is only through such partnerships that we can hope to succeed in the fight against AIDS.

    I congratulate DaimlerChrysler on this award and wish it every success in the second phase of its programme.

    And I thank you personally, Mr. Schrempp, for your strong leadership and your steadfast commitment to a stronger, healthier, more prosperous Africa. I add the hope that many business leaders throughout the world will be inspired by your example. Thank you very much.

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