5 June 2001


NEW YORK, 1 June (UN Headquarters) -- The Secretary-General has appointed Stephen Lewis as his Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa.

Mr. Lewis, who served as Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) from 1995-1999, and former Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations, will be responsible for ensuring follow-up to the African summit on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases held in Abuja, Nigeria, last April, and to next month's United Nations General Assembly special session on HIV/AIDS, as related to Africa.

It was at the Abuja summit of African leaders that the Secretary-General issued his call to action against the worldwide scourge of HIV/AIDS, and outlined five key objectives for the global campaign: preventing the epidemic's further spread, reducing mother-to-child HIV transmission, providing care and treatment to all, delivering scientific breakthroughs, and protecting the vulnerable, especially orphans.

Mr. Lewis will work closely with African leaders, with the United Nations team and resident coordinator in each country he visits, and with Dr. Peter Piot, Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), as well as K.Y. Amoako, head of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). They will help him establish a small secretariat, at a location to be decided shortly. He will also, on occasion, represent the Secretary-General at events related to Africa and HIV/AIDS.

A Canadian citizen, Mr. Lewis has had extensive experience as a politician, diplomat and humanitarian. A passionate advocate of the rights and needs of children, he has, since leaving UNICEF in 1999, been raising his voice in support of various humanitarian causes around the world, particularly in Africa and on HIV/AIDS.

In June 1998, in addition to his United Nations duties, Mr. Lewis was appointed by the Organization of African Unity (OAU) to an "International Panel of Eminent Personalities to Investigate the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda and the Surrounding Events". From 1984 through 1988, he was Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations. In the 1960s and 1970s, Stephen Lewis was an elected representative to the Ontario Legislature, and served as leader of the New Democratic Party.

Mr. Lewis was born in Ottawa on 11 November 1937. He is married to Michele Landsberg, and they have three children -- Ilana, Avi and Jenny.

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