With great sadness, but also fond memories and recognition of a long life well lived, USCIB and the International Chamber of Commerce network around the world are remembering William J. Stibravy, ICC’s representative to the United Nations for many years, who passed away January 5 at age 96.
A longtime U.S. foreign service officer who came to the world business organization as a second career in 1979, Bill Stibravy had countless friends around the world, in the USCIB and ICC families and beyond. He worked tirelessly on behalf of world business during 29 years as ICC’s permanent representative to the United Nations in New York until his retirement in 2008 – a period marked by a shift at the UN toward closer partnership with the private sector.
“Bill will be very fondly remembered at ICC as both a professional and a gentleman of the utmost integrity who commanded respect from all who met him,” said ICC Secretary General Jean-Guy Carrier. “His knowledge of the UN was encyclopedic , to such an extent that he was frequently consulted by top UN officials.”
A graduate of Columbia University and a U.S. Army veteran of World War II, Stibravy had a distinguished 40-year career in the U.S. State Department, including several postings in Europe and Japan, before joining ICC.
While with ICC, Stibravy worked out of USCIB’s New York headquarters, and a great number of USCIB members and staff came to know him well, valuing his wise advise and appreciating his imperturbable good spirits.
“Bill pursued his work with a commitment and dedication that set an example for all of us,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson, who was a young policy manager at USCIB when they first met. “His wealth of knowledge, skills, and contacts made it an incredible privilege and joy to work with him over the years. But we were also grateful recipients of his thoughtfulness, friendship, kindness, support and humble approach.”
Changing attitudes at the UN
According to Robinson, much of the credit for the UN’s more pro-business stance in recent years could be attributed to Stibravy’s efforts. “Today, business spends a lot more of its time working in cooperation and interchange with the UN,” he said, “I believe that Bill, a dean of diplomacy, was an instrumental honest broker in nurturing that partnership.”
Martin Wassell, who headed ICC’s policy department for many years, echoed this point: “A courteous, cultured, cosmopolitan citizen of the world with well-honed diplomatic skills, Bill Stibravy was the ideal person to head up ICC’s work in the UN during the 1990s and early 2000s, when that institution belatedly opened its eyes to see business as a partner of government, rather than an adversary, in the pursuit of global prosperity and peace – a cause to which Bill devoted his entire life.”
Some of Stibravy’s anecdotes and memories of a lifetime in international affairs were included in a 2005 portrait on this website marking his 25th anniversary as ICC’s UN representative.
“It is a consolation to know that Bill lived a very long and extraordinarily interesting life,” said ICC’s Carrier. “It is nonetheless very sad that this world has lost such an exceptionally good and decent human being.”
USCIB’s thoughts and condolences – as well as those of the entire ICC global network – go out to Bill’s wife Roma, who was at his side for so long, and to his other surviving family members. These include sons Robert, Richard and John; a sister, Val Mertz; grandson Matthew Stibravy; nieces Patty Mertz and Valerie Barnard; and daughter in-law Laura Miceli.
Services for Bill Stibravy will be held on January 9 in Stamford, Connecticut. For more information and to sign an online guestbook, please click here.
ICC Celebrates Stibravy’s 25 Years at the UN (January 7, 2005)