Freedom Award

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Freedom Award
Awarded for "extraordinary contributions to the cause of refugees and human freedom"[1]
Country United States
Presented by International Rescue Committee
First awarded 1957
Last awarded 2013
Website IRC Freedom Award

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) bestows its Freedom Award for extraordinary contributions to the cause of refugees and human freedom. According to the IRC, "The Freedom Award reveals the remarkable ability of an individual to shape history and change for the better a world moving toward freedom for all."[1]

The IRC was founded in 1933 at the request of Albert Einstein,[2] and made its first Freedom Award in 1957, to German politician Willy Brandt, who went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize.[3] The following year, the award was presented to Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister during the Second World War, for his "dedicated and devoted service to the cause of human liberty".[4] The first joint recipients of the award were Lane Kirkland and his wife Irena who won the prize in 1981.[5] Lane was honored for his "long devotion to the cause of refugees" while Irena was described as "very much a human rights activist".[5] Chinese dissidents Li Shuxian and Fang Lizhi were jointly honored in 1991;[1][6] two American Presidents, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton took the prize as a pair in 2005, and film actress Angelina Jolie and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees High Commissioner António Guterres received the award together in 2007.[7]

Since the first award presentation in 1957, the IRC has made it to 46 recipients, 24 of which were American; the majority of awards have been to politicians. The 1995 presentation was made in absentia to Burmese pro-democracy campaigner and leader of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party, Aung San Suu Kyi.[8][9] The 2011 award ceremony was held in New York City, at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in November, where the presentation was made to the Brokaw family.[10] In 2012, John C. Whitehead received the prize for a second time, the only person to do so.[1]


Year Image Recipient Nationality References
1957 A smiling, older man in a dark suit with a narrow-striped shirt and wide-striped tie. He has receding but long, wavy hair. Brandt, WillyWilly Brandt  German [5]
1958 Sir Winston S Churchill.jpg Churchill, WinstonWinston Churchill  British [4]
1959 William Donovan.jpg Donovan, William JosephWilliam Joseph Donovan  American [1]
1960 Lt com r e byrd.jpg Byrd, Richard EvelynRichard Evelyn Byrd  American [1]
1965 George Meany.jpg Meany, GeorgeGeorge Meany  American [11]
1966 David Dubinsky.jpg Dubinsky, DavidDavid Dubinsky  American [1]
1967 DavidSarnoff 1922.jpg Sarnoff, DavidDavid Sarnoff  American [12]
1969 Lucius-d-clay-80-87.jpg Clay, Lucius D.Lucius D. Clay  American [1]
1970 Jacob Javits.jpg Javits, Jacob K.Jacob K. Javits  American [12]
1975 Kreisky-Koechler-Vienna-1980 Crop.jpg Kreisky, BrunoBruno Kreisky  Austrian [13]
1976 Cherne, LeoLeo Cherne  American [1]
1977 H Humphrey.jpg Humphrey, HubertHubert Humphrey  American [11]
1978 Buttinger, JosephJoseph Buttinger  Austrian [1]
1979 Lord, Mary PillsburyMary Pillsbury Lord[A]  American [1]
1981 Lkirkland.jpg Kirkland, LaneLane Kirkland
Irena Kirkland
1987 Elie Wiesel 2009.jpg Wiesel, ElieElie Wiesel  Romanian [11]
1987 Whitehead, John C.John C. Whitehead  American [14]
1989 Sadruddin Aga Khan (1991) by Erling Mandelmann.jpg Aga Khan, Prince SadruddinPrince Sadruddin Aga Khan  French
1989 Lech Walesa - 2009.jpg Wałęsa, LechLech Wałęsa  Polish [11]
1990 Chamorro, VioletaVioleta Chamorro  Nicaraguan [1]
1991 Lizhi, FangFang Lizhi
Li Shuxian
1991 Javier Pérez de Cuéllar.JPG Pérez de Cuéllar, JavierJavier Pérez de Cuéllar  Peruvian [15]
1992 CyrusVanceSoS.jpg Vance, CyrusCyrus Vance  American [12]
1993 George Soros - World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Davos 2010.jpg Soros, GeorgeGeorge Soros[B]  Hungarian [7]
1993 Andreas, DwayneDwayne Andreas[C]  American [1]
1994 Forstmann, Theodore J.Theodore J. Forstmann[B]  American [16]
1994 Rohatyn, FelixFelix Rohatyn[C]  Austrian [16]
1995 Aung San Suu Kyi 17 November 2011.jpg Suu Kyi, Aung SanAung San Suu Kyi[D]  Burmese [9]
1995 Sadako Ogata.jpg Ogata, SadakoSadako Ogata  Japanese [9]
1995 Holbrooke-Amtsfoto 1-293x400.jpg Holbrooke, RichardRichard Holbrooke  American [1]
1997 De Vecchi, Robert P.Robert P. De Vecchi  American [12]
1999 Albrightmadeleine.jpg Albright, MadeleineMadeleine Albright  American [12]
2001 John McCain official portrait 2009.jpg McCain, JohnJohn McCain  American [17]
2002 Levy, ReynoldReynold Levy  American [18]
2002 Hamid Karzai in February 2009.jpg Karzai, HamidHamid Karzai  Afghan [19]
2003 Václav Havel.jpg Havel, VáclavVáclav Havel  Czech [9]
2004 Darfur-Rally 019.jpg Dallaire, RoméoRoméo Dallaire[B]  Canadian [20]
2005 43 George H.W. Bush 3x4.jpg
Bill Clinton.jpg
Bush, George H.W.George H.W. Bush
Bill Clinton
2006 Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf detail 071024-D-9880W-027.jpg Sirleaf, Ellen JohnsonEllen Johnson Sirleaf  Liberian [22]
2007 António Guterres.jpg
Angelina Jolie at Davos crop.jpg
Guterres, AntónioAntónio Guterres
Angelina Jolie
2008 Kofi Annan.jpg Annan, KofiKofi Annan  Ghanaian [23]
2011 Tom Brokaw by David Shankbone.jpg BrokawBrokaw family  American [10]
2012 Whitehead, John C.John C. Whitehead  American [24]
2013 George Soros - World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Davos 2010.jpg Soros, GeorgeGeorge Soros[B]  Hungarian [7][25]
2014 The humanitarian aid worker [26]
2015 Shimon Peres  Israeli
2016 Spyros Galinos  Greek [27]
2017 Leopoldo Lopez 1.JPG López, LeopoldoLeopoldo López  Venezuelan [28][29]


  • A ^ Lord's award was made posthumously.[1]
  • B ^ Distinguished Humanitarian Award[1]
  • C ^ Distinguished Public Service Award[1]
  • D ^ Special Freedom Award Recipient, in absentia[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t "IRC Freedom Award". International Rescue Committee. Retrieved 2010-04-22. 
  2. ^ "IRC at a glance". International Rescue Committee. Retrieved 2010-04-22. 
  3. ^ "The Nobel Peace Prize 1971". Nobel Foundation. Retrieved 2010-04-22. 
  4. ^ a b "Give Churchill Freedom Award". Gettysburg Times. 1958-05-30. p. 2. Retrieved 2010-04-22. 
  5. ^ a b c d Krebs, Albin (1981-04-07). "Notes on people; Kirklands to Get Awards". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-22. 
  6. ^ "Statements by Chinese Dissidents and Beijing". The New York Times. 1990-06-26. Retrieved 2010-05-01. 
  7. ^ a b c "High Commissioner and Angelina Jolie to receive IRC Freedom Award". United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. 2007-11-06. Retrieved 2010-04-22. 
  8. ^ "Profile: Aung San Suu Kyi". BBC News. 2009-08-11. Retrieved 2010-05-01. 
  9. ^ a b c d e "UN refugee agency, Angelina Jolie receive Freedom Award". United Nations. 2007-11-08. Retrieved 2010-04-22. 
  10. ^ a b "2011 Freedom Award: Honoring the Brokaw Family". International Rescue Committee. 2011-11-10. Archived from the original on 2013-07-20. Retrieved 2013-03-27. 
  11. ^ a b c d "Walesa says West to blame if Poland fails". Times-News. 1989-11-17. p. 2. Retrieved 2010-04-22. 
  12. ^ a b c d e "Madeleine Albright receives International Rescue Committee's Freedom Award". International Rescue Committee. 1999-11-10. Retrieved 2010-04-22. 
  13. ^ "Austria's Kreisky Will Get Freedom Award". The Daytona Beach News-Journal. 1975-04-10. p. 35. Retrieved 2010-04-22. 
  14. ^ "Press Release – SG/SM/7625". United Nations. 2000-11-15. Retrieved 2010-04-22. 
  15. ^ "Social Events". The New York Times. 1991-11-03. Retrieved 2010-04-22. 
  16. ^ a b "Benefits". The New York Times. 1994-11-20. Retrieved 2010-04-22. 
  17. ^ "Remarks of Senator John McCain – The International Rescue Committee's 2001 Freedom Award Dinner". U.S. Senator John McCain – Arizona. 2001-11-14. Retrieved 2010-04-22. 
  18. ^ "2008 UPS Lecture on Nonprofit Leadership, Governance and Economic Stewardship". Georgia State University. Archived from the original on 2010-06-30. Retrieved 2010-04-22. 
  19. ^ "His Excellency President Hamed Karzai". The Embassy of Afghanistan – Tokyo. Retrieved 2010-04-22. 
  20. ^ "Samantha Power – IRC Freedom Award Dinner – November 10, 2004" (PDF). Harvard University. Archived from the original (pdf) on June 30, 2010. Retrieved 2010-04-22. 
  21. ^ "IRC Honors Former Presidents Bush and Clinton for Tsunami, Katrina Relief Efforts". International Rescue Committee. 2005-11-10. Retrieved 2010-05-14. 
  22. ^ "Biographical Brief of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf". Government of the Republic of Liberia – Executive Mansion. Archived from the original on 2010-04-23. Retrieved 2010-04-22. 
  23. ^ Lunn, Stephen; Harris, Bret (2008-12-09). "Give 'til it hurts". The Australian. Retrieved 2010-05-19. 
  24. ^ Anderson, Monika (2012-11-08). "Kissinger, Bloomberg Honor IRC at Freedom Award Dinner". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2013-09-06. 
  25. ^ International Rescue Committee. "Freedom Award: Honoring George Soros". International Rescue Committee. Archived from the original on 2015-02-03. Retrieved 22 March 2015. 
  26. ^ Honoring the humanitarian aid worker Archived 2015-09-06 at the Wayback Machine., Rescue, 2014
  27. ^ "International Rescue Committee honors Mayor Spyros Galinos of Lesbos and the Mack family at annual Rescue Dinner benefit". Retrieved 26 December 2016. 
  28. ^ "Governor Scott Joins Venezuelan Expats In Doral; Says Maduro, 'Thugs' Have To Go". Retrieved 2017-05-08. 
  29. ^ "Freedom Award: Leopoldo López fue homenajeado con el Freedom Award en Miami". Retrieved 2017-05-08.