22-04-2004 11:45 am UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura will present the Avicenna Prize for Ethics in Science on April 26 (Room II, 6.30 pm) to its first laureate, Margaret A. Somerville, in the presence of Jafar Towfighi, the Iranian Minister of Science, Research and Technology.
Selected by an international jury, Margaret Somerville, holds dual Australian and Canadian nationality. She is both Samuel Gale Professor of Law and a professor of medicine at McGill University in Montreal (Canada). Founder and Director of the McGill Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law, she was also founding Chairperson of the Ethics Committee of the National Research Council of Canada.
Through her books, conferences and other work, Professor Somerville has made an important contribution to the global development of bioethics, and to the ethical and legal aspects of medicine and science. She has worked with a range of international organizations, such as UNESCO, the World Health Organization and the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights. Among her many publications are The Ethical Canary: Science, Society and the Human Spirit and Death Talk: The Case Against Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide.
The Prize owes its name to 11th century doctor, philosopher and alchemist Abu Ali al-Hosein Ibn Abdallah Ibn Sina (980-1038), who was known in Europe as Avicenna. As a humanist and physician, he developed an approach that prefigured ethics in science.
The new prize encourages ethical reflection on questions raised by scientific and technological advances, a goal that coincides with UNESCO’s priorities. The Organization’s Executive Board approved the statutes of the prize at its 166th session. Sponsored by the Islamic Republic of Iran, the prize consists of a gold medal portraying Avicenna, a certificate, the sum of US $10,000, and a weeklong trip to Iran during which the laureate will participate in scientific conferences.