'Front Man' Knows His Subject'
Bono receives the 2007 Liberty Medal on Philadelphia's Independence Mall today - and you can catch the proceedings live online.
The Liberty Medal, bestowed annually by the National Constitution Center, is being awarded jointly to Bono and DATA, the advocacy organisation he co-founded to combat poverty in the poorest countries.
An editorial in this mornings Philadelphia Inquirer puts today's award in context.
'Few people in modern times have done more with their celebrity to combat poverty and disease than Bono, who will receive the Liberty Medal tonight at the National Constitution Center.
The Irish rock star is being honored along with the advocacy group he co-founded, DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa). Not only is the recognition well deserved, but the publicity should focus even more attention on fighting extreme poverty and AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.
In 2005, DATA and its allies prodded the G8 nations to pledge $25 billion in extra aid for Africa by 2010; to forgive debt owed by the continent's 18 poorest nations; to provide greater access to education; and to fight AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. But DATA and other international aid groups say the G8 nations have fallen far short of that commitment.
As Bono is feted in Philadelphia, former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan will chair the Global Fund Replenishment Conference in Berlin. It will be a test of the G8 nations' sincerity about fighting disease. The fund, created in 2002, is credited with helping to save two million lives worldwide. More than one million AIDS patients have received life-prolonging drugs.
The United States has pledged $724 million this year, or 29 percent of the total. It's a commitment that must be kept and built upon.
Today isn't the first time that Bono's causes have intersected with Philadelphia. In 2005, Philadelphia held one of the "Live 8" concerts, a worldwide effort championed by Bono and other entertainer-activists to raise awareness of extreme poverty.
Bono's humanitarian work has become impossible to ignore because of its inescapable moral force and because he is a "front man" who truly knows his subject. Since his memorable 10-day tour of Africa with Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill in 2002, the sunglassed-one has become nearly as well known for his antipoverty crusade as for being the lead singer of U2. He's done it by promoting a relentless message of economic justice and compassion.
The Liberty Medal is given annually to people who advance the cause of liberty around the world. Bono forces us to confront the reality that liberation from poverty and disease is an unmet basic human need.'