Professor Bronisław Geremek, one of the architects of the democratic transition in Poland, helped launch the Community of Democracies during his tenure as Minister of Foreign Affairs. The Geremek Award aims to honor his memory by recognizing exceptional individuals who bravely commit to introducing democratic values and practices, often in unfriendly conditions. The Geremek Award is presented in every high-level meeting of the Community of Democracies, following a decision by a special committee from the Community and the Greek Foundation.
The first person to be honored with the Award, during the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies in Lisbon in 2009, was Nelson Mandela. The first democratically elected President of South Africa was recognized for his continued struggle for democracy, civil liberties and human dignity in his country, under the severe repression of an oppressive regime.
In 2010 the Geremek Award was bestowed upon Father Jose Conrado Rodriguez of Cuba. Rodriguez is the parish priest of St. Teresa in the poorest district of Santiago de Cuba. For many years he has been engaged in activities to promote educational and political awareness as well as the debate on the future of Cuba, a country that has been under authoritarian rule for more than 50 years.
In Vilnius, the Award recognized the ongoing work of the entire Belarusian democratic opposition during the 2011 Ministerial Conference. The award was received by Uladzimir Nyaklyayew, a Belarusian poet and writer, who led the public campaign Tell the Truth! (“Гавары праўду!”).
The Geremek Award was bestowed upon Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s pro-democracy opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, at the 2013 Ministerial Conference in Ulaanbaatar. Suu Kyi, who for many years operated under harsh persecution from military regimes, was awarded for her consistent struggle to promote democratic values and practices in her home country.
The 2015 Geremek Award was presented to former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright at the Ministerial Conference in San Salvador. Albright has been a consistent advocate for democracy development around the world, representing a powerful voice to encourage governments and civil society to think of the future.