TAIPEI, TAIWAN—The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) awarded the Democracy Service Medal to President Tsai Ing-wen in honor of her historic achievements and contributions advancing democracy and human rights in Taiwan and around the world. The presentation occurred during a celebration for the 20th anniversary of NED partner Taiwan Foundation for Democracy (TFD).
“President Tsai has been steadfast in her commitment to democracy and fostering democratic unity among like-minded nations,” said Damon Wilson, NED President and CEO. “By honoring President Tsai’s leadership, we spotlight Taiwan’s democratic success and our commitment to the people of Taiwan that they can determine their own destiny. Here in Taipei, at the forefront of freedom, we stand in solidarity with you.” Read the full remarks below.
In her remarks, President Tsai reiterated the need for democratic unity. “We must work together, as democracies, to counter the tactics that authoritarian regimes use to undermine our institutions,” said President Tsai. “We must also work together to become more resilient and safeguard our values.” Watch a video of the event here.
First awarded to Polish Solidarity leader Lech Wałęsa in 1999, the NED Democracy Service Medal is presented to distinguished individuals who have demonstrated through personal commitment a unique dedication to freedom, human rights, and the building of democratic institutions. President Tsai joins notable past recipients such as Czech President Vaclav Havel, the Dalai Lama, former Senator John McCain, and former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright. Learn more about the Democracy Service Medal.
Remarks by NED President and CEO Damon Wilson:
Presentation of NED Democracy Service Medal to President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan
Taipei, July 18, 2023
Good morning. Tsao an. Gau-tsa.
I am honored to join in celebrating the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy’s 20th anniversary by honoring Taiwan’s democracy itself and its elected leader, President Tsai Ing-wen.
Under the leadership of President Tsai, Taiwan has deepened its own commitment to democracy, strengthening the rights and liberties of its citizens. In turn, Taiwan is flourishing as a beacon of democracy not only in Asia, but around the world.
President Tsai has drawn on Taiwan’s democratic strengths to support liberty globally while rallying allies and partners around the world in safeguarding Taiwan’s democracy.
The American people and other freedom-loving people around the world feel a sense of solidarity with the people of Taiwan based on these shared democratic values. These bonds are the basis for working together to safeguard Taiwan’s freedom.
As a result, Taiwan’s democracy bolsters its security.
In recognition of President Tsai’s achievements and contributions to the advance of democracy and human rights in Taiwan and around the world, we are honoring her with the National Endowment for Democracy’s Democracy Service Medal.
The NED Board of Directors created the Medal in 1999 to recognize individuals who demonstrated, through personal commitment, their dedication to the advance of freedom, human rights, and democracy.
NED awarded the first cast bronze medals to the former Polish President and founder of the Solidarity trade union movement Lech Walesa, and former trade union leader AFL-CIO President Lane Kirkland, whose work together helped bring down communism in Central Europe.
During President Tsai’s tenure, Taiwan has bolstered civil liberties and made rapid advancements in transitional justice. The Transitional Justice Commission has investigated the period of martial law, expunging the criminal records of those wrongly convicted during authoritarian rule.
She established a Presidential Office of Indigenous Historical Justice and offered a groundbreaking apology to the indigenous people of Taiwan.
She has advanced the role of women in society and politics, expanded the rights of Taiwan’s LGTBQ citizens, and advocated for the expansion of the political rights of Taiwan’s youth.
When Russia invaded Ukraine, President Tsai rallied the people of Taiwan to act in solidarity with the Ukrainian people, shipping medical supplies and humanitarian relief to Ukraine, providing assistance to shelter Ukrainian refugees, and aiding their fight for freedom.
She supported the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy’s partnering with the NED to support Ukraine’s courageous civil society, while also backing increased funding for the Foundation.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, under President Tsai’s leadership, Taiwan demonstrated that democracies were capable of mounting an effective response without resorting to authoritarian tactics.
This commitment was further demonstrated as Taiwan hosted the Eleventh Global Assembly of the World Movement for Democracy last October, marking the first major international event since Taiwan’s reopening to the world, as nearly 300 activists gathered to build democratic momentum.
President Tsai has been steadfast in her commitment to democracy and fostering democratic unity among like-minded nations. It was an honor to have her address the Global Assembly, gaining advocates for Taiwan in 70 countries.
At this consequential moment, safeguarding Taiwan’s democracy is pivotal to ensuring freedom and democracy around the world. The NED family is committed to playing its part in this important task.
By honoring President Tsai’s leadership, we spotlight Taiwan’s democratic success and our commitment to the people of Taiwan that they can determine their own destiny.
Here in Taipei, at the forefront of freedom, we stand in solidarity with you.
It is my great honor to present President Tsai Ing-wen with the National Endowment for Democracy’s Democracy Service Medal in recognition of her leadership advancing democracy in Taiwan and around the world.