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Nobel Laureates to Tackle World Woes in Jordan

[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 05/05/16; May 16, 2005.]

World's top thinkers in economics, medicine, physics, literature to think about where world is going

By Randa Habib

PETRA, Jordan (AFP), May 16 - The Dalai Lama, former US president Bill Clinton and Hollywood actor Richard Gere will be among the Nobel laureates and celebrities gathering in the ancient Jordanian city of Petra this week with the lofty goal of trying to fix the world's woes.

A total of 36 of the world's top thinkers in economics, medicine, physics and literature are expected to attend the May 18-19 conference, being hosted by Jordan's King Abdullah II and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Elie Wiesel.

"The whole initiative is to bring the best of minds together to think about where the world is going," said Jordan's Finance Minister Bassem Awadallah.

"They are coming in from various disciplines in order to discuss issues because they believe the world is in real danger."

Over the course of two days, the 29 laureates and other leaders will examine and try to find solutions for problems in four main areas, including terrorism and peace, economic development and poverty, health and environment, and education and media.

"They might come up with a process," said Awadallah. "Maybe they will agree to meet once every year for two years, to launch a website."

The conference will take place amid centuries-old rose-coloured ruins of Petra, a World Heritage Site some 200 kilometres (125 miles) south of the capital Amman.

It is being held just days ahead of a World Economic Forum summit on the banks of the Dead Sea in Jordan.

Awadallah said Jordan was chosen as the venue for the Nobel meeting because "they think Jordan is a country of moderation where they can bring people from all hopes of life, thinking about the future in a very ancient setting of achievement, Petra."

"They saw in King Abdullah a young leader who is committed not only to modernise his country and to stabilise the region but also to contribute to global peace, security and development."

King Abdullah told reporters when the conference was first announced in March: "Today, more than ever, we need creative minds to address the issues of the age. And one of the most urgent is this: How can humanity know so much, achieve so much, and still fail so many people so badly?"

Organizer Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor and writer, co-sponsored a similar conference in 1988, when French President Francois Mitterrand hosted some 75 Nobel laureates.

"Can we effect a change?" said Wiesel in promotional materials for this year's conference. "Can we bring about a 'merger' between power and morality? We are on a runaway train hurtling toward the abyss. Do we have the determination to stop it? It will not be easy but we must, lest our past become our children's future."

Other conference attendees include Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres, who won the 1994 peace prize, former Northern Ireland Protestant leader David Trimble, a 1998 peace laureate, and author Wole Soyinka who won the 1986 literature prize.


List of the Participants

Hosts
King Abdullah II of Jordan
Elie Wiesel (US, 1986 peace prize)

Participants
The Dalai Lama (Tibet, 1989 peace)
Former US president Bill Clinton Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa
Singapore senior minister Goh Chok Tong
Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres (1994 peace)
Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathiratha
Former IMF managing director Michel Camdessus (France)
World Economic Forum executive chairman Klaus Schwab (Switzerland)
Ismail Serageldin, Alexandria Library director
Richard Gere (US film actor, activist)
Betty Williams (Ireland, 1976 peace)
Sir Aaron Klug (Britain, 1982 chemistry)
Dudley Herschbach (US, 1986 chemistry)
Wole Soyinka (US, 1986 literature)
Jean-Marie Lehn (France, 1987 chemistry)
Johann Deisenhofer (US, 1988 chemistry)
Professor Erwin Neher (Germany, 1991 physiology and medicine)
Jose Ramos-Horta (Australia, 1996 peace)
Harold Kroto (Britain, 1996 chemistry)
Robert Merton (US, 1997 economics)
Stanley Prusiner (US, 1997 physiology and medicine)
David Trimble (Northern Ireland, 1998 peace)
Walter Kohn (US, 1998 chemistry)
Guenter Blobel (US, 1999 physiology and medicine)
Gerardus 'T Hooft (Holland, 1999 physics)
Zhores Alferov (Russia, 2000 physics)
Eric Kandel (US, 2000 physiology and medicine)
James Heckman (US, 2000 economics)
V.S. Naipaul (Britain, 2001 literature)
Daniel Kahneman (US, 2002 economics)
Riccardo Giaconni (US, 2002 physics)
Richard Axel (US, 2004 physiology and medicine)
Aaron Ciechanover (Israel, 2004 chemistry)
David Gross (US, 2004 physics) Avram Hershko (Israel, 2004 chemistry) Finn Kydland (US, 2004 economics)


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