Stephen Lewis

Celebrated Humanitarian, Former UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa.

  • Stephen Lewis video image thumbnail
Image Request More Information Add to My List

Stephen Lewis is a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Ryerson University in Toronto. He is the board chair of the Stephen Lewis Foundation, which is dedicated to turning the tide of HIV/AIDS in Africa, and he is co-founder and co-director of AIDS-Free World, an international advocacy organization.

Mr. Lewis is a Senior Fellow of the Enough Project. He is an immediate past member of the Board of Directors of the Clinton Health Access Initiative, and Emeritus Board Member of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative. He served as a Commissioner on the Global Commission on HIV and the Law; the Commission's landmark report was released in July 2012.

Stephen Lewis' work with the United Nations spanned more than two decades. He was the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa from June 2001 until the end of 2006. From 1995 to 1999, Mr. Lewis was Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF at the organization's global headquarters in New York. From 1984 through 1988, he was Canada's Ambassador to the United Nations.

From 1970-1978, Mr. Lewis was leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party, during which time he became leader of the Official Opposition.

Mr. Lewis is the author of the best-selling book, Race Against Time. He holds 36 honorary degrees from Canadian universities, as well as honorary degrees from Dartmouth College and Johns Hopkins University in the United States.

In 2003, Stephen Lewis was appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada, Canada's highest honour for lifetime achievement. In 2007, King Letsie III, monarch of the Kingdom of Lesotho (a small mountainous country in Southern Africa) invested Mr. Lewis as Knight Commander of the Most Dignified Order of Moshoeshoe. The order is named for the founder of Lesotho; the knighthood is the country's highest honour. And in 2012, Mr. Lewis was an inaugural recipient of Canada's Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

- Read More -
- Read Less -

Speakers Like Stephen Lewis

Speaking Topics

"Education: The World's Greatest Force For Good"

"Mr. Lewis, using the themes of the conference, will explore the way in which education, throughout the world, transforms the lives children lead, and is perhaps the greatest, unacknowledged instrument we have for dramatic social change".


"Global Issues - Local Impact"

"Universities are, first and foremost, centres of academic excellence and academic inquiry. But if they are to be relevant to the modern world, they must understand the nature of community, especially the community of which they are a part, and understand, increasingly, that they have obligations to the wider world as well. Mr. Lewis will explore both those themes, drawing on personal experience to make his case."


"Education at the crossroads: Diversity as the touchstone"

"Mr. Lewis will argue that the nature of society in 2005 requires that diversity be seen as the centrepiece of the educational experience. Anything less than that, and learning is fatally flawed."



"Public Health is everywhere under siege" - Globalization has succeeded in compromising the social sectors in general, and health in particular. Nor is the situation confined to industrial countries alone; the developing world is hurting, and hurting badly. If the principles of public health are to be rescued in this world, radical changes will be required.


"Global Health: Hope or Deterioration?"

"Mr. Lewis will address the growing disparity in the standard of health between the developed and developing countries. He will take a hard look at the emergence and re-emergence of communicable diseases, the struggle for pharmaceuticals at low cost, the absence of health professionals, the question of resources, and the overall efforts of impoverished societies to reach the admirable levels of health which characterize Canada and the United States."


"The Millennium Development Goals, International Advocacy, and the Role of the Physician."

The entire international development agenda is today being driven by the MDGs (Millennium Development Goals), aiming for the year 2015. Every Goal is health-related. If we are to reach them, therefore, the doctors of the world --- certainly the doctors of Canada --- must do advocacy on an international level. Can that challenge be met? Is it realistic?



"When the bottom line isn't enough" - Stephen Lewis kicks off this event with a fresh perspective on global issues and a frontal challenge to the myths of globalization. Drawing upon his extensive political and international experience, Mr. Lewis will explore the role of leadership in promoting a different set of economic and social priorities for the 21st century.



"What is the Role of Foundations when Governments Fail?" - "With Governments cutting back on their commitments to the social sectors in the developed world, and Governments struggling so desperately in much of the developing world, are Foundations expected to fill the gap? Are they under any obligation to do so? What financial imperatives have changed in this so-called time of globalization? Mr. Lewis will address these questions in terms at once unequivocal and uncompromising".


Human Resources /Human Development

"Human Development, Career Development and Training: Foundations for a Better World". Mr. Lewis will draw on his careers in politics, diplomacy and multilateralism to demonstrate the principle and practice of self-development. He will attempt to demonstrate that the culture of the work place is every bit as important to self-development as the capacity of individuals.



"The world is falling apart: what role civil society?" - "Mr. Lewis will draw upon his extensive international experience to illustrate the importance of an active civil society in creating a safer, more peaceful world." Mr. Lewis will speak on the importance of community in the lives of children, focusing on leadership, ethics, accountability, health and education in both a national and international context."


International Issues/World Affairs

"Where in the World is the World Headed?" - Mr. Lewis will make a panoramic sweep of international affairs, concentrating, especially, on globalization, conflict, poverty, disease and the place of corporate social responsibility in all of it.


Human Rights

"Human Rights Gone Wrong: A pattern of world indifference". Stephen Lewis will examine the problem from global and local perspectives, with an emphasis on social and economic rights.


Recent Publications by Stephen Lewis

Race Against Time: Searching for Hope in AIDS-Ravaged Africa


Tweets by Stephen Lewis

2 weeks ago
This Thursday, March 8, #StephenLewis will discuss meaningful global engagement at Ryerson International’s GLO II Speaker Series. How can we build a thriving global community? Register here: