IFES Announces Recipients of 2015 Democracy Awards

Publication Date: 
16 Jul 2015

News Type:

Former Nigerian Election Commission Chairman Attahiru Jega, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Ed Royce to Receive Award in September

Washington, D.C. — The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) will honor former Chairman Attahiru Jega of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Congressman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) with its 2015 Charles T. Manatt Democracy Award. They will receive the award at a special ceremony co-chaired by IFES Board Director and Baker & Hostetler LLP Partner Ambassador Tom McDonald and Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP Partner June L. DeHart on September 29, in Washington D.C.

“Chairman Jega’s leadership was instrumental to Nigeria’s successful general elections in 2015,” said IFES President and CEO Bill Sweeney. “He deserves full credit for his efforts to increase the credibility and transparency of the electoral process under extreme logistical challenges, such as terrorist threats from Boko Haram, where failure could prove the catalyst for predicted election violence,” added Sweeney.

Jega’s expert management of the 2015 general elections positioned him as a credible election administrator. The complex Nigerian electoral environment consisted of 69 million eligible voters, 155,000 polling booths and 700,000 temporary staff deployed across the country. These recent elections resulted in the country’s first democratic transfer of power.

“I am deeply honored to accept the 2015 Democracy Award from IFES. INEC’s long-standing partnership with IFES in preparation for the 2015 general elections resulted in a credible process accepted by Nigerian citizens and the international community. These elections have put Nigeria on the right path toward democratic stability,” said Chairman Jega.

Leader Pelosi is the Democratic Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives for the 114th Congress. From 2007 to 2011, Leader Pelosi served as Speaker of the House, the first woman to do so in American history. For 28 years, Leader Pelosi has represented San Francisco, California’s 12th District in Congress. She has led House Democrats for more than a decade and previously served as House Democratic Whip. During her nearly three decades in Congress, Leader Pelosi has been a leading advocate for women’s empowerment and gender equality.

“Leader Pelosi’s leadership and lifelong commitment to breaking barriers and advocating for human rights and women’s empowerment make her uniquely positioned to receive IFES’ Democracy Award,” said IFES Chairman Don Sweitzer. “Leader Pelosi’s public service has been focused on the inclusion of underrepresented groups and she has been an important voice, both domestically and globally, on the promotion of democratic values,” added Sweitzer.

“IFES is one of the world’s great democratic institutions – striving to build a better world by protecting the ballot box in more than 145 countries. Voting sustains the dignity of every person and the vibrancy of every democracy. We are so grateful for IFES in recognizing the inextricable connection between free and fair elections and peaceful and prosperous societies,” Leader Pelosi said. “It is an honor to receive the 2015 IFES Charles T. Manatt Democracy Award and join with IFES to create a better world by ensuring that all people have a chance to have their voices heard.”

Congressman Royce has a strong history of public service dating back to 1982, when he was elected to the California State Senate and began his fight for victims' rights. Beginning with the 113th Congress, Royce has served as Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Royce has served on the Committee since entering Congress in 1993. Congressman Royce’s priorities as Chairman have included pressuring Iran in order to stop Tehran’s march toward nuclear weapons, sanctioning the human rights-violating North Korean regime, combatting terrorists intent on attacking the United States, reforming U.S. international broadcasting to counter the propaganda of America’s adversaries, and reforming U.S. international food aid to feed more starving people more quickly at a lower cost.

Immediately prior to becoming Chairman of the Committee, Royce served as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade and a member of the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific.

“Congressman Royce’s selection as Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee builds on more than two decades of service to the committee, during which he has provided guidance on matters related to the United States’ strategic and economic interests in Asia and the Pacific and Africa,” said IFES Vice Chairman Judy Black. “On many occasions, Chairman Royce has been involved in humanitarian, development, business and educational efforts abroad, with special attention to human trafficking as well as the security and economic well-being of the United States,” added Black.

“I am honored to accept this award celebrating the ongoing effort to defend freedom and promote democracy around the world,” Congressman Royce said. “IFES is an organization I have long admired, having become acquainted with it during the presidential election observation mission to Nigeria I led in 1999. The work IFES does is critical to advancing transparency and accountable governance, and creating more pluralistic and participatory societies worldwide.”

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. Past international recipients include 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).

Previous recipients from the U.S. Congress include Representative Steny Hoyer (D-Md.); Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.); Senator Richard Durbin (D-Ill.); Representative Kay Granger (R-Texas); Representative Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.); Representative David Dreier (R-Calif.); Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.); Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.); Representative David Obey (D-Wis.); Representative Lee H. Hamilton (D-Ind.); Senator Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.); Representative Tom Lantos (D-Calif.); and Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.).

Learn more about the 2015 Charles T. Manatt Democracy Award.

CONTACT: Daniela Colaiacovo, dcolaiacovo@ifes.org, +1 (202) 350-6802


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.

Subscribe to Our Mailing List

Optional Member Code