The Democracy Award is given annually by the National Endowment for Democracy’s Board of Directors to recognize the courageous and creative work of individuals and organizations that have advanced the cause of human rights and democracy around the world.
The NED’s Democracy Award is a small-scale replica of the Goddess of Democracy that was constructed in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China during the student movement for freedom and democracy in 1989.
The original statue was created by art students from the Central Academy of Art in Beijing and by democracy demonstrators; it was unveiled in Tiananmen Square on May 30, 1989. During the government crackdown on June 4, the statue was destroyed by a tank—an unforgettable moment that was witnessed throughout the world.
San Francisco sculptor Thomas Marsh led a project to re-create a 10-foot bronze replica of the original Goddess of Democracy with the help of some Chinese students beginning in 1989. The bronze replica was unveiled in 1994 by Chinese dissidents and Representative Nancy Pelosi in San Francisco. Later, Marsh created smaller replicas of the statue to recognize those around the world who have made contributions to the movement for democracy.
In 1991 the National Endowment for Democracy began presenting the symbolic statuette as its annual Democracy Award.
- 2017: Anti-Corruption Activists from Afghanistan, Angola, Guatemala, Malaysia, and Ukraine
- 2015: Political prisoners of Venezuela
- 2014: Tireless defenders of human rights in China
- 2013: Our Democratic Future: The Role of Youth in Advancing Democracy
- 2012: Burma’s Democracy Movement
- 2011: Tunisians and Egyptians Who Have Struggled for a Democratic Future
- 2010: Lessons from Other Transitions to Democracy and The Road Ahead – Strategic Challenges for the Democratic Movement in Iran
- 2009: Cuban workers, lawyers, and writers working to advance democratic values and fundamental rights within Cuba
- 2008: Heroic efforts of Chinese workers, lawyers, and writers working to advance democratic values and fundamental rights within China
- 2007: Courageous efforts of journalists, publishers and press freedom advocates in Egypt, Russia, Venezuela and Southeast Asia
- 2006: Four democratic activists from Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Zimbabwe, and Sudan
- 2005: Democratic activists from Afghanistan
- 2004: Leaders of organizations known as the backbone of the democracy movement in Russia
- 2003: Honoring Heroes of Human Rights and Democracy in North Korea
- 2002: Heroes of Human Rights and Democracy in the Muslim World
- 2001: A Hero of Human Rights and Democracy in Mexico
- 2000: Heroes of Human Rights and Democracy in Kosovo
- 1999: Heroes of Human Rights and Democracy in Nigeria
- 1998: Heroes of Human Rights and Democracy in China