IFES Announces International Recipient of 2016 Democracy Awards

Publication Date: 
3 Jun 2016

News Type:

Disability Rights Advocate Nay Lin Soe of Myanmar to Receive Award in September

WASHINGTON, D.C. — June 9, 2016 — The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) will honor Nay Lin Soe, a disability rights advocate and Founder and CEO of the Myanmar Independent Living Initiative (MILI), with its 2016 Charles T. Manatt Democracy Award. He will receive the award at a special reception ceremony to be held on September 13 in Washington, D.C. The reception ceremony will be co-chaired by IFES Board Director and Director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Project on Prosperity and Development Dan Runde and former U.S. Ambassador to Slovakia Theodore Sedgwick. Radio Free Asia Managing Director Bay Fang will emcee the reception ceremony.

“As Myanmar prepared for its historic 2015 elections, Nay Lin Soe’s efforts to promote the rights of persons with disabilities led to remarkable advances,” said IFES President and CEO Bill Sweeney. “In the face of immense challenges, his work and the work of his organization, the Myanmar Independent Living Initiative, played a critical role in highlighting the importance of accessible, inclusive elections,” added Sweeney.

Nay Lin Soe’s collaboration with Myanmar’s Union Election Commission, government, civil society and media has been critical to ushering in a new and inclusive era for Myanmar and serves as an exemplary model of how to advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities in nascent democracies. Additionally, he has been a regional leader in advocating for the rights of persons with disabilities and participated in several international disability movements, including the IFES-supported Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) General Election Network for Disability Access (AGENDA).

“I am deeply honored to accept the 2016 Democracy Award from IFES. Working with IFES has been a big encouragement for us when working on electoral issues. Their support has been essential toward building an inclusive and equal society in Myanmar,” said Nay Lin Soe.

The Charles T. Manatt Democracy Awards are presented each year to a Democrat, a Republican and a member of the international community who demonstrate the dedication to democracy and human rights embodied by the award’s namesake, former IFES Board of Directors Chairman Charles T. Manatt.

This is the first time that IFES has honored both a disability rights advocate and an Asian citizen with the Democracy Award. Past international recipients include former Chairman of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission Professor Attahiru Jega (2015); Venezuelan opposition leader Maria Corina Machado (2014); former President of the Federal Electoral Institute of Mexico Dr. Leonardo Valdés Zurita (2013); Kenyan gender advocate Maimuna Mwidau (2012); South African Judge Johann Kriegler (2011); and former Lebanese Minister of Interior and Municipalities His Excellency Ziad Baroud (2010).


As the global leader in democracy promotion, IFES advances good governance and democratic rights by providing technical assistance to election officials; empowering the underrepresented to participate in the political process; and applying field-based research to improve the electoral cycle. Since 1987, IFES has worked in over 145 countries, from developing democracies, to mature democracies. For more information, visit www.IFES.org.

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