The United States marks National Ethics Awareness Month in March, but September is the time to commemorate global ethical leadership at Case Western Reserve University.
Each September, Case Western Reserve hosts the Inamori Ethics Prize Lecture and Academic Symposium. This year the international event—"New Challenges for Human Rights in the 21st Century"—begins with the lecture at 12:30 p.m. September 9 in Severance Hall. The symposium follows at 3 p.m. in the Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence in Crawford Hall on the university campus.
The lecture is free and open to the public, but tickets are required for admission. Call the Severance Hall Box Office at 216.231.1111. The symposium also is free, but seating is limited. Tickets are not needed for the symposium.
The Inamori Ethics Prize symposium will feature Case Western Reserve faculty members Michael Scharf, professor of law, director of the Frederick K. Cox International Law Center, and director of the Cox Center War Crimes Research Office; Patricia Marshall, professor of bioethics; and Karen Beckwith, Flora Stone Mather Professor of Political Science.
The 2009 Inamori Ethics Prize winner Mary Robinson, a former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the first female president of Ireland, will join the faculty panel. Robinson, one of 12 members of Nelson Mandela's organization The Elders, also will give the Inamori Prize Lecture.
First elected to Ireland's senate in 1969, Robinson's early political career featured campaigns to allow women to sit on juries and to remain in civil service after marriage. She supported the legal availability of contraception, and also advocated for homosexual rights.
Robinson continued her activism as president of Ireland from 1990 to 1997. During her tenure, Robinson transformed the position from a largely ceremonial role to one of political substance and international prominence. She was the first head of state to visit Somalia in 1992 after its civil war, for which she later received the CARE Humanitarian Award. She also was the first head of state to visit Rwanda after its 1994 genocide.
In 2002, Robinson founded the nonprofit organization Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative, which promotes equitable trade, humane practices in the work environment, access to health care and corporate responsibility.
In addition to her work with Realizing Rights, Robinson chairs the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations to improve the health of children worldwide.
"Mary Robinson has spent her entire adult life fighting for the recognition and protection of human rights, which is why she was chosen to receive the Inamori Ethics Prize," said Shannon French, director of the Inamori International Center. "She has empowered countless women across the globe, given a voice to the most vulnerable, and challenged all of us to respect and value one another and work together for peace."
Earlier this month, President Barack Obama awarded Robinson the Medal of Freedom, the highest honor bestowed on civilians in the United States. In the wake of this award, Robinson has discussed some of the controversies that have emerged during her career in global leadership—including criticism that she did not do enough to quell inflammatory statements at the 2001 World Conference Against Racism in Durban. Robinson acknowledged that she "may have made some mistakes" during her term, but emphasized that she had tried to advance human rights in a way that reduced its political aspects.
"[T]he task is not easy, particularly because the expression 'human rights' carries different meanings, resonates differently in various parts of the world and within countries depending on political preferences, ethnic association, religious views and, importantly, economic status," Robinson said in an interview.
"Mary Robinson is a true champion of human rights who will speak out against human rights abuses no matter where they occur," said Scharf. "In many ways, her actions at the 2001 Durban conference have been mischaracterized and misunderstood. We are very fortunate to have her here with us to discuss her long and distinguished career."
"The Inamori Ethics Prize events provide the perfect opportunity for dialogue on the challenges of global ethical leadership, and Mary Robinson has faced several throughout her career," said French. "Her varied experiences will lead to robust discussion on a range of ethical matters during the symposium."
For more information on Mary Robinson, visit www.realizingrights.org.
For more information on the Inamori Ethics Prize Lecture and Academic Symposium, including ticket information, visit www.case.edu/provost/inamori/prize.
The Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence began in July 2006 as the result of a generous gift from Kazuo Inamori and the Inamori Foundation of Kyoto, Japan. Dr. Inamori, founder of the Kyocera Corporation, believes that "people have no higher calling than to serve the greater good of humankind and society" and "the future of humanity can be assured only through the balance of scientific progress and spiritual maturity." The Inamori Center fosters ethical leadership around the world by awarding the annual Inamori Ethics Prize; collaborating with people and entities at Case Western Reserve University, in the regional community, and around the United States and the world; and sponsoring ethics research, scholarship, symposia, lectures, and other means of ethical discourse. Candidates for the Inamori Ethics Prize are solicited through an open, international nomination process. The recipient is chosen in February by a selection committee of diverse advisers to the center.
Case Western Reserve University is committed to the free exchange of ideas, reasoned debate and intellectual dialogue. Speakers and scholars with a diversity of opinions and perspectives are invited to the campus to provide the community with important points of view, some of which may be deemed controversial. The views and opinions of those invited to speak on the campus do not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration or any other segment of the university community.