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  • His Highness the Aga Khan gives his acceptance speech upon receiving the Andrew Carnegie Medal, as Sally Magnusson, BBC presenter, and Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights look on.
    AKDN / Gary Otte
Aga Khan awarded the Andrew Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy 2005

Edinburgh, Scotland, UK, 4 October 2005 - His Highness the Aga Khan, Imam (spiritual leader) of the Ismaili Muslims and founder of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), was today among six recipients of the Andrew Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy.

At a ceremony held in the Debating Chamber of Scotland’s Parliament at Holyrood, Edinburgh, Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and now Director of the Ethical Globalisation Initiative, presented the Medal to the Aga Khan..

“The Aga Khan’s values of pluralism, multiculturalism, and strengthening civil society, are those we must all emulate,” said Dr. Robinson.

Paying tribute to the legacy left by Carnegie and the philanthropic work done by his Foundations, the Aga Khan noted the importance in the Muslim faith of sharing ones resources and caring for the poor and those in need. “This injunction to service is the ethical underpinning of the work of the Aga Khan Development Network.”

The Aga Khan accepted the Medal on behalf of the thousands of selfless and dedicated volunteers around the world who contribute to the work of the AKDN. “The achievements of the AKDN would not be possible without the tireless contributions of the global community of Ismailis that I lead, residing in Central and Southern Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and North America,” he said. “Our volunteers and contributors also include many thousands of others from multiple cultures and faiths around the world. They are united with us in our mission to build capacity and dignity for individuals, to enable them to take control of their own development.”

The ceremony took place in front of an audience of over 400 from philanthropy, politics, the media and non-governmental organisations, who took part in an international philanthropy symposium organised by the Carnegie organisation earlier in the day. Named after the Scots-American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, the awards are presented every two years to inspirational philanthropists and their families who have dedicated their private wealth to the public good.

William Thomson, a great grandson of Andrew Carnegie described the Medals as commemorating “Carnegie’s philanthropic legacy and belief that private wealth should be used to benefit mankind. Recipients of the medal share Andrew Carnegie’s vision that distributing one’s accumulated wealth for the common good is just as important a task as building up that wealth."

The Medals of Philanthropy were also awarded to:

  • Anna Southall, Chair of the Barrow Cadbury Trust, on behalf of the Cadbury family;
  • Eleanor Hewlett Gimon, on behalf of the Hewlett family;
  • Susan Packard Orr, on behalf of the Packard family;
  • Sir Tom Farmer, Scots founder of Kwik-Fit;
  • Agnes Gund, President Emerita of The New York Museum of Modern Art.

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The Aga Khan is the 49th hereditary Imam (spiritual leader) of the Ismaili Muslims and a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). A Harvard graduate in Islamic history, the Aga Khan, succeeded his grandfather as Imam of the Ismailis in 1957. He is the founder of the Aga Khan Development Network.

The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) is a group of private, non-denominational development agencies whose mandates range from the fields of health and education to architecture, culture, rural development and the promotion of private-sector enterprise. Its agencies and institutions, working in over 30 countries, seek to empower communities and individuals, often in disadvantaged circumstances, to improve living conditions and opportunities, especially in countries in sub-Saharan Africa, South and Central Asia and the Middle East.