A voter casting her ballot. Matthew Parry
Representative David Obey (D-WI), former United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator M. Peter McPherson, and Lebanese Minister of Interior and Municipalities Ziad Baroud are the winners of the 2010 annual IFES Charles T. Manatt Democracy Awards. The awards, which recognize extraordinary efforts to advance electoral participation and democratic values, are given yearly to a Republican, a Democrat and a member of the international community to highlight the fact that democracy work transcends political parties and national borders.
“Those of us who work in elections and democracy promotion could not make the progress we do if it weren’t for the individuals who receive this award—people whose support and vision shape the democracy landscape at a global level, ” says Bill Sweeney, president and CEO of IFES, the world’s leading NGO on elections assistance and democracy promotion.
David Obey, a U.S. Representative from Wisconsin since 1969, has proven to be a friend of democracy by supporting and funding democracy assistance groups globally, particularly in the developing world, as chairman of the Appropriations Committee.
“Funding is the lifeblood of any democracy organization and Rep. Obey has consistently pressed for funding these groups; he has acted as the ‘conscience of the Congress,’” says Peter Kelly, chairman of the IFES Board of Directors.
M. Peter McPherson has promoted democratic values through the many high-profile public positions he has held. Among these are special assistant to President Gerald Ford, head of USAID under President Ronald Reagan, president of Michigan State University from 1993 to 2004, and, currently as President of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.
“Since he began his public service career as a Peace Corps volunteer in Peru, Mr. McPherson has always taken into account the perspectives of the people he is serving. This quality is one of the many that have made him especially effective in work that prepares the ground for democracy—education and self-empowerment, ” says Bill Hybl, vice chairman of the IFES Board of Directors.
Ziad Baroud, a longtime lawyer and prominent civil society activist who currently serves as Lebanon’s Minister of Interior and Municipalities, has dedicated his life to civil society and government service. Mr. Baroud is recognized worldwide for his significant contribution to enhancing the electoral process in his country.
Former President Jimmy Carter said, “I have supervised more than 83 elections in 83 countries worldwide but the best I have seen were in Lebanon [in 2009].”
IFES will present this year’s awards at a fundraising event in Washington, DC on September 28, 2010 that is being co-chaired by Donald R. Sweitzer and the Honorable Robert L. Livingston. Proceeds of the awards dinner will be used to expand IFES programs that strengthen participation of women and marginalized groups, use technology to innovate the electoral process, and mitigate electoral violence and promotes tolerance.
Past recipients of the award have included the Honorable U.S Representative Lee H. Hamilton (D-IN), His Excellency José Miguel Insulza of Chile, the Honorable U.S. Senator Richard G. Lugar (R-IN) and Monsignor Agripino Nùñez Collado of the Dominican Republic.