2015 Human Security Award Honoree: Dr. James Orbinski


Photos of the 11th annual Human Security Award ceremony to honor Dr. James Orbinski at the Barclay Theater, UCI, on October 14, 2015. Photo by Rodrigo Pena Photography.

From Left to Right: Social Ecology Interim Dean, Carroll Seron, Division of Undergraduate Education Dean, Michael Dennin, Human Security Award Recipient, James Orbinski, UCI Blum Center Director, Richard Matthew.

Photos by Rodrigo Pena Photography

See OC Register article, “Former Doctors Without Borders president is recognized at UCI”

At the invitation of Dr. Richard Matthew, Director of the Blum Center for Poverty Alleviation and the Center of Unconventional Security Affairs, Dr. James Orbinski was honored as the recipient of the 11th Annual Human Security Award at UC Irvine. The Human Security Award is presented to an individual or group whose actions have made a dramatic difference in helping protect and empower the world’s most vulnerable groups and communities.

Dr. Orbinski was honored on October 14, 2015 at the Irvine Barclay Theatre for his extraordinary service and humanitarian work in war-torn regions, including Afghanistan, Rwanda, and Somalia. He served as the elected international president of Doctors Without Borders – also known as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) – from 1998 until 2001, during which he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on the organization’s behalf.

Dr. Matthew urged the audience to listen carefully in his brief address prior to introducing Dr. Orbinski. “There’s so much we can do, and one of the first steps is to just listen to someone who has done so much,” Dr. Matthew said. “You might be inspired to think a little bit about your relationship to suffering.”

In his address titled, Imperfect Offering: Humanitarian Action in the 21st Century, Dr. Orbinski spoke of the Syrian refugee crisis, the role of climate change in the competition for water and arable land, and his work as co-founder of Dignitas International and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDI) – where, in 2001, they brought the market price for the treatment of AIDS down from $13,000 to less than $64 for generic versions of the same medication.

Dr. Orbinski, whose address received a standing ovation, spoke in closing, of leadership: “The best among leaders know that the vision – their vision – and their words matter, but what you do matters most.”

“You have here, at this great state, some of the most resilient, some of the most ingenious, some of the greatest minds in the world,” Dr. Orbinski said. “You have this great opportunity here at this university. The Blum Center, with its ten campus locations, represents an enormous possibility, not just for California, but for the world.”

Vice Provost of Teaching and Learning and Dean of the Division of Undergraduate Education, Michael Dennin, along with Interim Dean of the School of Social Ecology Carroll Seron, assisted with the presentation of this award to Dr. Orbinski.

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