About the Beacon Prize
The Beacon Prize is awarded annually during the Human Rights Summit in Washington, DC 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 creation 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 Declaration into action to transform lives. Read More
The annual award is named the Beacon Prize to echo the calls of leaders from President Ronald Reagan to President Barack Obama who have called the United States a beacon for those seeking freedom. The Beacon Prize invokes this description as a challenge: that beacon shines brightest when the United States leads by example and 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.With this award, Human Rights First seeks to publicly demonstrate that support for human rights is both firmly rooted in the American tradition and that this support is as broad as it is deep, a value that unites Americans of different races, religions and political affiliations. As President Jimmy Carter said of the special relationship between this country and the universal aspiration for human rights, “America did not invent human rights. . . Human rights invented America.”
The Beacon prize is open to American citizens, residents, and companies or organizations with headquarters in the United States.
Honorary Host Committee
|Sen. John Barrasso||Sen. Bill Frist||Sen. Joseph Lieberman||Sen. Lisa Murkowski|
|Sen. Max Baucus||Sen. Judd Gregg||Sen. Richard Lugar||Majority Leader Harry Reid|
|Sen. Sherrod Brown||Sen. Tom Harkin||Sen. John McCain||Sen. Olympia Snowe|
|Sen. Susan Collins||Gov. Dirk Kempthorne||Sen. Robert Menendez||Sen. Tom Udall|
|Sen. Chris Dodd||Sen. Patrick Leahy||Sen. George Mitchell||Sen. John W. Warner|
|Sen. Richard Durbin||Sen. Carl Levin||Sen. Jerry Moran|
2013 Beacon Prize Winner
Senator Robert “Bob” Dole
As he accepted the 1996 Republican nomination for President of the United States, Senator Bob Dole said, “I believe the ultimate imperative for growth and opportunity is to advance human dignity.” His long and distinguished public service career has embodied that philosophy.
From the front lines of World War II, where he sustained the injury that left him permanently disabled, to his return to the United States as a highly decorated veteran with a desire to continue his service in government, Senator Dole has devoted his life to upholding our nation’s fundamental ideals. Perhaps there is no better example of his work to ensure dignity for all than the decades he has spent championing the rights of people with disabilities.
In 1990, Senator Dole spearheaded bipartisan passage of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act, which President George H.W. Bush signed into law. Last year, he returned to Capitol Hill to press the United States Senate to ratify the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities— a treaty declaring that all people, regardless of ability, deserve to live in dignity. Senator Dole rightly observed that ratification of the treaty would reaffirm the country’s “common values of equality, access and inclusion for all individuals with disabilities.”
Senator Dole’s courageous leadership remains instrumental in advancing the rights of disabled people in the United States and beyond. Human Rights First is proud to honor Senator Dole by awarding him our Beacon Prize.
2012 Beacon Prize Winner
Honoring Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens
On December 5, 2012, Human Rights First presented the Beacon Prize (posthumously) to the Honorable J. Christopher Stevens, Ambassador of the United States of America.
In postwar Libya, Ambassador Stevens heroically represented the United States and embodied her highest ideals in a region where Americans are often viewed with mistrust. Motivated by his longstanding conviction that he could not be an effective ambassador from behind a bunker, Ambassador Stevens 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 and, after he was killed by a terrorist attack, they joined Americans in grieving his death. His work in Libya was the capstone of a sterling two-decade career in the U.S. Foreign Service. Throughout the Middle East—from Damascus to Cairo to Riyadh— Ambassador Stevens quietly did the essential work of building bridges to people in other cultures, putting American ideals into practice. Human Rights First is honored to recognize his extraordinary leadership with our inaugural Beacon Prize.