2010 Democracy Service Medal Awarded to Dalai Lama

February 19, 2010
10:30 am - 12:00 pm


Tenzin Gyatso
The XIV Dalai Lama of Tibet

with comments by

Richard Gephardt
Chairman, National Endowment for Democracy

Carl Gershman
President, National Endowment for Democracy

James H. Billington
Librarian of Congress

Introduction by Dr. Judy Shelton, Vice Chairman, NED

Medal Presentation by Carl Gershman, President, NED

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) presented His Holiness the Dalai Lama with the Democracy Service Medal in recognition of the Tibetan spiritual leader’s commitment to advancing the principles of democracy and human dignity on February 19, 2010 in the Coolidge Auditorium at the Library of Congress. 

The Dalai Lama addressed an audience of approximately 500 at his only public appearance during his Washington visit.

Commenting on the significance of the honor for the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people, NED President Carl Gershman said,

“The struggle of the Tibetan people to preserve their culture is world renowned.  What is little known, however, is that the Dalai Lama, even before leaving Tibet, sought to implement significant reforms in the system of government. Only in exile was the Dalai Lama able to implement those reforms. Today, the Tibetan community in exile operates under a democratic constitution, with an elected National Assembly and a Supreme Court, with day-to-day powers vested in an elected prime minister. The Dalai Lama himself has often said that it is not enough to oppose Chinese totalitarianism, but that it is necessary to offer a democratic alternative.  Because the Tibetan people have transformed their suffering into a source of moral strength, they have become an inspiration to others who have suffered injustice.”