The 2nd Annual Anita Houston Memorial Lecture

Rory Stewart




Introduction of Speaker


Questions and Answers

Rory Stewart

Rory Stewart was born in Hong Kong and grew up in Malaysia. He served briefly as an officer in the British Army (the Black Watch), studied history and philosophy and Balliol College, Oxford and then joined the British Diplomatic Service. He worked in the British Embassy in Indonesia and then, in the wake of the Kosovo campaign, as the British Representative in Montenegro. In 2000 he took two years off and began walking from Turkey to Bangladesh. From 2000-2002 he walked on foot across Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, India and Nepal, a journey of 6000 miles. His walk across Afghanistan shortly after the U.S. invasion is described in his award-winning book, “The Places in Between”, a New York Times bestseller.

In 2003, he became the coalition Deputy Governor of Maysan and Dhi Qar – two provinces in the Marsh Arab region of Southern Iraq. He has written for a range of publications including the New York Times Magazine, the London Review of Books, the Sunday Times, the Guardian, the Financial Times, and  Granta. In 2004, he was awarded the Order of the British Empire and became a Fellow of the Carr Centre at Harvard University. He now lives in Kabul, where he is the Chief Executive of the Turquoise Mountain Foundation, which is investing in the regeneration of the historic commercial centre of Kabul, providing basic services, saving historic buildings and constructing a new bazaar and galleries for traditional craft businesses. In Janary, 2009, Stewart will join Harvard University as Ryan Professor of Human Rights.

About Anita Houston

For over 50 years, until her death on March 16, 2007, Anita Houston was so prominent an advocate for the United Naations and international cooperation among nations, that she was designated by official Town Proclamation on her 90th birthday in October 2002, as “New Canaan’s Ambassador for World Affairs.”

According to local author and her longtime friend, Hudson Stoddard, “Mrs. Houston spent a spectacular share of her long and fruitful lifetime in this town gathering up willing and talented volunteers to work with her on various worldly events  and causes throughout the years. She also enlisted an outstanding array of diplomats and international savants to visit this community and to share their insights on the world scene.”

In tribute to Anita for her long service as chairperson and member of the UN Committee of New Canaan and head of her UN Study Group, an endowment was started for an annual lecture to be delivered on a topic related to international affairs and the United Nations. With the New Canaan Library as co-sponsor, and the Houston family as its most generous donor, the first lecture was given four years ago by UN Senior Advisor Gillian Sorensen. Three years ago we were honored by British diplomat and author, Rory Stewart, and two years ago we heard a presentation by the New York Times UN Bureau Chief, Neil MacFarquahar. Last year we were privileged to hear a talk from Barbara Crossette, journalist and author with a long and distinguished career of reporting on the UN. This year we are delighted to hear from Alex Prud’homme on a critical humanitarian issue affecting us all.