Federico Mayor Zaragoza
“The death penalty has to be eradicated in all circumstances because it violates universally recognized human rights, in particular, the right to life, which is the most fundamental right of all.”
Prof. Federico Mayor Zaragoza was born in Barcelona in 1934. He holds a Ph.D. in Pharmacy from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (1958). In 1963, he became a Professor of Biochemistry at the Facultad de Farmacia of the Universidad de Granada. In 1968, he became Rector of that institution, a job he held until 1972. The following year, he was named Professor in his specialty at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. In these years it started up the National Plan of Prevention of Mental Handicap, to avoid, by means of precocious diagnosis, diseases that can evolve with serious mental deterioration.
Among his other political responsibilities, Professor Mayor has been Undersecretary of Education and Science for the Spanish Government (1974-75), Member of the Spanish Parliament (1977-78), Adviser to the Prime Minister (1977-78), Minister of Education and Science (1981-82) and Member of the European Parliament (1987). In 1978, he became Assistant Director-General of the UNESCO. In 1987, he was elected Director-General of that Organization, and was reelected for a second term in 1993. In 1999, he decided not to run for a third term and, upon returning to Spain, created the Fundación Cultura de Paz, of which he is Chairman. In December of 2002, the Danish Presidency of the European Union named him Chairman of ERCEG (European Research Council Expert Group) for the “knowledge-based economy” that Europe would reach the leadership in 2010. In October 2005 be was appointed by the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan co-chair of the High-Level Group for the “Alliance of Civilizations”. Among other activities of national and international cooperation, it emphasizes the creation, in the Universidad Politécnica de Cataluña, of the World-wide Forum of the Civil Society, “UBUNTU”.
In addition to his numerous scientific publications, Professor Federico Mayor has published four books of poetry and several books of essays.