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DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF UNESCO

Dr Abdallah Darr awarded Avicenna Prize for Ethics in Science 2005 by Koïchiro Matsuura

Dr Abdallah Darr awarded Avicenna Prize for Ethics in Science 2005 by Koïchiro Matsuura

On 14 April 2006, the Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, on the recommendation of an international jury, awarded the Avicenna Prize for Ethics in Science 2005 to Dr Abdallah S. Daar (Sultanate of Oman), who is currently Professor of Public Health Sciences and of Surgery at the University of Toronto.

Dr Daar also holds the posts of Director of the Program in Applied Ethics and Biotechnology and Co-Director of the Canadian Program on Genomics and Global Health at the University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics, and Director of Ethics and Policy at the McLaughlin Centre for Molecular Medicine.

The ceremony, which took place at UNESCO Headquarters, was held in the presence of Mr Mohammad Mehdi Zahedi, Minister of Science, Research and Technology of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mr Musa Bin Jaafar Bin Hassan, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of the Sultanate of Oman to UNESCO and President of the General Conference, Mrs Pilar Armanet, Chairperson of the World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST), and Mr Ahmad Jalali, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of the Islamic Republic of Iran to UNESCO.

Mr Matsuura, underlining the need to raise awareness of the importance of the ethics of science and technology, insisted that “the social responsibility and ethical dimensions of science deserve renewed attention in an age of dramatic changes regarding scientific knowledge and its applications”. Referring to the emergence of ‘knowledge economies’ and ‘knowledge societies’, Mr Matsuura described as “imperative” the need for better capacity-building in science and technology in the developing countries.

“We are fortunate to live in an age that offers new opportunities to involve all nations in the great adventure of science and technology. However, while celebrating science as a tremendous human achievement that has brought countless benefits to humankind, we also must recognize that our capacity to create scientific advances is outrunning our ability to control their uses and impact”, said Mr Matsuura. “This is most obviously the case”, he continued, “in regard to environmental and ecological changes but it also extends to how science and technology may contribute to the growth of poverty gaps, the widening of social inequalities, and problems of peace and human security”.

Concluding his remarks, the Director-General said that “Today, we cannot afford to be ignorant or neglectful of the ‘downside’ of scientific and technological development. This requires us to engage with the ethical complexity and moral dilemmas arising out of modern science and its applications”.

The Avicenna Prize for Ethics in Science, created in 2002 on the initiative of the Islamic Republic of Iran, is awarded once every two years and consists of a gold medal depicting Avicenna, along with a certificate, the sum of $10,000, and a one-week academic visit to the Islamic Republic of Iran.

  • Author(s):Office of the Spokesperson
  • 14-04-2006
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