For Immediate Release: November 16, 2012
Washington, DC –Human Rights First will bestow its inaugural Beacon Prize on the late Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens for his bravery and dedication to advancing American ideals on human rights. Ambassador Stevens is being honored posthumously for his courage in standing with the Libyan people as they demanded freedom and democracy. The award will be presented at a gala event on December 5th in Washington, D.C., the culmination of the organization’s two-day Human Rights Summit.
As the events of the Arab Spring pitted the democratic aspirations of the region’s people against the violence of their leaders, the United States’ diplomatic corps was on the front lines. Ambassador Stevens, motivated by his longstanding conviction that he could not be an effective ambassador from behind a bunker, refused to let security threats deter him from developing the personal relationships essential to his mission. His courageous work and commitment to human rights won him the respect and friendship of many Libyans.
“Ambassador Stevens was a beacon for American ideals and universal values. Through him our Nation’s beacon shone brighter. His bravery, compassion, and dedication to these ideals are a model for American engagement in the world,” said Human Rights First’s President and CEO Elisa Massimino. “Human Rights First is honored to recognize Ambassador Stevens with our inaugural Beacon Prize for upholding the best traditions of American leadership on human rights.”
The Beacon Prize will be awarded annually to an individual or organization whose work embodies the best in the tradition of American leadership on human rights. Starting with Eleanor Roosevelt’s pivotal role in the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Americans – government officials and private individuals – have nurtured and shaped the human rights movement, turning the principles enumerated in the Universal Declaration into action.
The name of the award echoes the words of leaders from President Ronald Reagan to President Barack Obama who have hailed the United States as a beacon for all those seeking freedom. The Beacon Prize invokes this description as a challenge: America’s beacon shines brightest when our country leads by example and when its actions match its ideals. The Beacon Prize celebrates people and organizations whose actions to promote human rights have brought the United States closer to this ideal.
Mr. Geoffrey Bannister will accept the award on behalf of Ambassador Stevens’ family.