Canada: "I Don't Want to Stop:" Stephen Lewis Steps Down as the UN's Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS in Africa
January 2, 2007
Dec. 31 was Stephen Lewis' last official day as the UN special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa. But he intends to continue his work in fighting against the disease. This includes the creation of a nongovernmental organization based in Boston, which will work with the Stephen Lewis Foundation in Toronto.
"I'm lucky enough to have a number of platforms at home and abroad to express views and opinions," said Lewis, who spent five and a half years at the UN post. "You can't get involved in these issues without wanting to continue the involvement." "I don't want to stop," added the 69-year-old now former diplomat and politician.
In fact, Lewis intends to become a louder advocate than ever for the millions of people living with HIV/AIDS throughout the world. "Working within the UN," he said, "it is always necessary to look over your shoulder, to see who you might offend -- or to bite your tongue so your words are not incendiary. It will be nice to have the freedom to speak more freely and to be utterly independent." "But I don't want to diminish the privilege of having been the envoy. It gave me great access to governments and political leaders and a lot of support on the ground from the UN family," he said.
Lewis' NGO plans to work with the William J. Clinton Foundation, which is working to bring inexpensive generic AIDS drugs to patients across the world, and with Partners in Health, an agency that is helping to bring basic health care to people in developing countries. "Africa will stay the main focus of our work," he said, "but I think we will likely be expanding our range of interest to other countries."
12.31.2006; Chris Cobb