UNITED NATIONS, Apr 30 (IPS) - UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan
Monday took his cash-strapped battle against AIDS before one of
the richest audiences in the United States.
Annan, who is seeking to build a massive "war chest" of about
seven-to-ten billion dollars to launch his global fight against
the deadly disease, appealed to affluent US foundations for
desperately needed funds.
Addressing the annual conference of the Council on Foundations
in the city of Philadelphia Monday, Annan said the
international community needs a "great deal of new money" to
battle the devastating disease.
"While much responsibility does lie with governments in the
countries where the disease is spreading fastest, clearly they
need help from outside," he added. The most fortunate countries
can, and must, provide that help.
The Council on Foundations, a coalition of over 1,800
foundations, has some 318 billion dollars in combined assets
and made outright grants totalling an estimated 14 billion
dollars in 1999.
Annan said that when he addressed a summit meeting of African
leaders in Nigeria last week, the estimates of seven-to-ten
billion dollars a year "sounded a lot". But in a gathering of
US foundations, he added, the amount is relatively small.
"It is actually less than you, the charitable foundations of a
single country, are giving away each year. And the world's
governments spend more than 100 times that amount each year on
their military forces," he stressed. Current spending on AIDS
in developing countries total around one billion dollars
At the Nigerian summit meeting, Annan proposed a Global Fund
dedicated to the battle against HIV/AIDS and other infectious
The Fund, he pointed out, must be able to deliver money quickly
where it is most needed. Its decision-making must be open and
transparent. It should give support to all kinds of
organisations that are really working to fight the epidemic and
help those affected by it, and which are willing to work within
a common country framework.
Annan said he hopes to actively pursue the idea of the Global
Fund with all concerned over the next few weeks. He held out
the hope that the Fund will be up and running before the UN
Special Session on AIDS scheduled to take place in New York
As a condition, he said, each country or community receiving
support from the Fund would have to show that it is actually
bringing results to those most at risk. These results would be
At a press conference last week, Urban Jonsson, Regional
Director for Eastern and Southern Africa for the UN Children's
Fund (UNICEF), said the seven-to-ten billion dollars needed to
fight AIDS could not be raised using old methods, such as
merely asking for it.
"The international community had to look at it in a different
way. While it was a lot of money for organisations such as the
United Nations, it was only one percent of global military
expenditures," he added.
If those responsible for military expenditures were to reduce
their spending by one percent, that would pay the bill, he
David Morrison, President of Netaid.org Foundation, said the
only way to generate the money would be if people around the
world demanded that their governments made it a priority.
The campaign, along with others like it, was designed to let
leaders know what the important issues were, and make them
respond to world pressure, he noted. At a press conference in
Nigeria last week, Annan disagreed with a reporter's view that
"there is no money anywhere now for AIDS".
"Quite frankly, if I shared that view, I don't think I would
have embarked on this idea of trying to set up a Global Fund
and encourage donor governments, private foundations,
corporations and individuals to pay money into the Fund," he
For much of the international community, according to Annan,
the magnitude of the crisis is beginning to sink in. Almost 22
million people have already died of AIDS.
More than 36 million men, women and children around the world
are today living with HIV or AIDS - the vast majority of them
in sub-Saharan Africa. But the pandemic is now spreading at an
alarming rate in Asia and Eastern Europe.
In the year 2000 alone, Annan said, three million people died
from the virus - the highest annual total to date - and five
million became infected: the average of 13,000 people a day.
"This is indeed a catastrophe. But we are not powerless before
it. Something can be done, and - what is more - people are
starting to do it," he added. (END/IPS/HE/IP/td/da/01).