IFES Announces 2011 Democracy Awards Recipients

Publication Date: 
8 Aug 2011

News Type:

WASHINGTON — Two senior U.S. congressional leaders and a former justice of South Africa’s Constitutional Court are the winners of the 2011 Charles T. Manatt Democracy Awards, presented by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES). The annual awards recognize men and women who share a commitment to advancing freedom and democratic values.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Judge Johann Kriegler of South Africa will receive the awards on Sept. 15 at IFES’ Democracy Awards Dinner in Washington.

The awards, which are given to a Democrat, a Republican and an international recipient, honor former U.S. ambassador and IFES Board of Directors Chairman Charles T. Manatt’s dedication to democracy and human rights. Manatt, who passed away in July, was a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and helped establish the National Endowment for Democracy. He and his wife, Kathleen, created the Manatt Fellowship in Democracy Studies at IFES to support the next generation of elections and democracy-building professionals.

“This year, even more than in the past, IFES is proud to have this opportunity to recognize individuals who share Ambassador Manatt’s mission to advance democracy and protect citizens’ rights,” said IFES President and CEO Bill Sweeney.

Leahy chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Foreign Operations. Since joining the U.S. Senate in 1974, he has been a leading advocate for a wide range of issues, including an international ban on the use of land mines, advancing civil liberties, and guaranteeing a fair and independent judiciary.

“Senator Leahy embodies Chuck Manatt’s commitment to ensuring that everyone, regardless of their social status or country, has their human rights actively protected and are allowed equal justice under the law,” said Peter Kelly, chairman of IFES’ Board of Directors.

Ros-Lehtinen chairs the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. During her more than two decades of service in the U.S. House of Representatives, she has worked to promote freedom, human rights and democracy around the world.

“From lobbying for an end to genocide in Darfur to blazing trails for women and Hispanic Americans at home, Representative Ros-Lehtinen has shown a truly tireless commitment to fighting for human rights and civil liberties for people around the world,” said Bill Hybl, IFES board vice chairman.

Kriegler is a former Constitutional Court judge and chair of the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa. As a human rights lawyer and elections expert of world renown, he has participated in judicial and electoral missions in more than a dozen countries. He headed the effort to reform electoral law in Kenya following post-election violence in 2007 and recently served on Afghanistan’s Electoral Complaints Commission.

“The Manatt Award is obviously a huge honor, not least because it comes from people who know how tough the work we do in the field can be,” said Kreigler. “I like to think that at the same time it recognizes the role of the countless brave women and men who push the boundaries of democracy in the remotest corners of the world.”

Past recipients of the Democracy Awards include Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.), former United States Agency for International Development Administrator M. Peter McPherson, Lebanese Minister of Interior and Municipalities Ziad Baroud, His Excellency José Miguel Insulza of Chile, Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and Rep. Lee H. Hamilton (D-Ind.).

The 2011 IFES Democracy Awards Dinner coincides with the International Day of Democracy and will be co-chaired by Thomas H. Boggs Jr. and Robert L. Livingston. Proceeds from the evening will support IFES programs focused on gender equality, election technology, preventing election violence and ensuring access for persons with disabilities.

###

IFES is an independent, nonprofit leader in election assistance and democracy promotion. Since its founding in 1987, IFES has worked in 133 countries, from developing to mature democracies.