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Stephen Lewis – Selected Quotes


 “No funding for peace talks unless women are at the table,” Lewis says. “…this is a most serious gathering, and it may also be perfect timing, coming as it does right at the outset of an administration of which so much is hoped and so much is expected. And there is for me --- and for the organization I represent, AIDS-Free World --- another unanticipated happenstance. I had not met Ambassador Hunt before today, nor --- however embarrassing the admission --- did I know much of the Institute for Inclusive Security, or indeed, the work of


Women Waging Peace that preceded it (albeit I’d certainly heard the name on many occasions).

But I have to say that reading the material that was sent to me spawned an instant sense of solidarity, and my colleagues and I really felt drawn to the advocacy on behalf of women that lies at the heart of the IIS. It’s an advocacy that we not only endorse, but that sustains our own work, and frankly I feel more than a little foolish to have come to this discovery so late. And by the way, I’m not shamelessly currying favour; I’m too old to curry favour.”

“As I read through the avalanche of briefing notes that Jacqueline O’Neill sent to me on behalf of the IIS, two things struck home.

First, the simple, unvarnished truth that men make war, and women lead lives without resorting to violence, so it makes unassailable logic to have women at the centre of peacemaking and peacebuilding initiatives. They are indispensable to negotiating peace agreements that last, and indeed, will never be sustained without the leadership of women.

But the other item was in a way transformative. In a Christian Science Monitor op-ed back in October, 2007, written by Carla Koppell, Director of the Initiative for Inclusive Security, she argues, and I quote,

‘We could reserve seats at the table for those who have not borne arms but have a stake in peace. Most radically, mediators could invite non-belligerents to the table first and have them set the agenda for talks.’


It means, says Carla ‘… that those who haven’t picked up weapons get to choose priorities.’ I love it.

Of course it’s radical: it would induce cardiac arrests in every warlord from Sudan to Zimbabwe.

But it’s brilliant in the way it captures the quintessential fact that in every existing or anticipated peace negotiation, in every conflict everywhere, the women are missing.

So here we have a world awash in conflicts from Afghanistan to Iraq to the Middle-East. It never ends.

And because it never ends, we will always, as an international community be engaged in seeking peace where blood and terror reign.”


Selected quotes, reprinted with permission, from “Remarks by Stephen Lewis, Co-Director of AIDS-Free World” (, presented at the 10th annual Policy Forum of The Institute for Inclusive Security in Washington, DC, on January 21, 2009.


The speech continues with recommendations for the then new Obama administration, including: refuse to fund or support any UN-sponsored peace negotiations without women as leading participants at the table; Full implementation of Resolution 1325; Provide or share funding to finance the full troop complement from the African Union to protect the people of Darfur; force negotiations through the Security Council with, again, the full participation of women as a prerequisite; Protect the women of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (the DRC) -“Guns are a complement to rape. The levels of dementia and brutality --- and, horrifically, the transmission of the AIDS virus --- endured by the women in the course of the sexual violence make bullets a mere addendum to atrocity”; Oppose all amnesties (for the militia) in such circumstances; Implement UN Security Council “Responsibility to Protect” (‘R2P’). “When a government is unable or unwilling to protect its citizens from egregious violations of human rights, then the international community has the responsibility to protect.” (E.g. in Zimbabwe). Create and share in funding a new UN international agency for women. …akin to UNICEF for children. “In truth, an agency for women could well rescue the reputation of the United Nations.”

[N.b. UN Women was created in 2010].

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