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Senator Dole Receives Human Rights First’s Beacon Prize for His Championship of the Rights of the Disabled

Bob DoleSenator Robert Dole recently received Human Rights First's Beacon Prize in honor of his work to secure U.S. ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and his work to advance the rights of the disabled domestically.

The prize was bestowed Thursday evening during a gala at The Newseum in Washington, D.C. The event marked the culmination of Human Rights First's two-day Human Rights Summit taking place at the Newseum from December 4 to 5.

"From the front lines of World War II, where he sustained the injury that left him permanently disabled, to his return to the United States as a highly decorated veteran with a desire to continue his service in government, Senator Dole has devoted his life to upholding our nation's fundamental ideals. Perhaps there is no better example of his work to ensure dignity for all than the decades he has spent championing the rights of people with disabilities," said Human Rights First President and CEO Elisa Massimino. "Senator Dole's courageous leadership remains instrumental in advancing the rights of disabled people in the United States and beyond. Human Rights First is proud to honor Senator Dole by awarding him our Beacon Prize."

In 1990, Senator Dole spearheaded bipartisan passage of the landmark Americans with Disability Act, which President George H.W. Bush signed into law. Last year, he returned to Capitol Hill to press the United States Senate to ratify the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities— a treaty declaring that all people, regardless of ability, deserve to live in dignity. Senator Dole rightly observed that ratification of the treaty would reaffirm the country's "common values of equality, access and inclusion for all individuals with disabilities." Though the treaty failed to gain the 61 votes necessary for ratification in 2012, the Senate Foreign Relations committee is excepted to take it up again next week.

The Beacon Prize is awarded annually to an individual or organization whose work embodies the best in the tradition of American leadership on human rights. Starting with Eleanor Roosevelt's pivotal role in the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Americans – government officials and private individuals – have nurtured and shaped the human rights movement, turning the principles enumerated in the Universal Declaration into action. The name of the award echoes the words of leaders from President Ronald Reagan to President Barack Obama who have hailed the United States as a beacon for all those seeking freedom. The Beacon Prize invokes this description as a challenge: America's beacon shines brightest when our country leads by example and when its actions match its ideals. The Beacon Prize celebrates those whose actions to promote human rights have brought the United States closer to this ideal.

Last year's inaugural prize was awarded posthumously to Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens for his courage in standing with the Libyan people as they demanded freedom and democracy.

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