Ambassador to receive Human Rights award

The U.S. Embassy to the Republic of Armenia is pleased to announce Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's recognition of Ambassador Marie L. Yovanovitch as the recipient of the 2009 "Diplomacy for Human Rights Award."

The annual "Diplomacy for Human Rights Award" recognizes a U.S. Ambassador who has demonstrated extraordinary commitment to defending human rights and advancing democratic principles of government in his or her host country.

In making her selection, Secretary Clinton recognized Ambassador Yovanovitch's principled leadership and innovative use of diplomatic tools in promoting and defending human rights and democracy as an essential component of the United States' bilateral relationship with Armenia.

Secretary Clinton singled out Ambassador Yovanovitch and her embassy team for their advocacy of due process and transparent investigations of those arrested after the contentious February 2008 elections, and for the Ambassador's efforts to improve the electoral process in Armenia, while maintaining a positive relationship with the Armenian Government.

This award has been announced as part of the U.S. government's efforts to mark International Human Rights Day on December 10. The award will be presented early next year.

Since her arrival in Armenia in September, 2008, Ambassador Yovanovitch has engaged civil society and government in the promotion of human rights and democratization, and has done so in a consistent and meaningful manner. Whether in public or in private, Ambassador Yovanovitch has actively worked to promote a constructive atmosphere where civil society and government can address some of the pressing challenges that Armenia faces in pursuing democratization.

Upon learning of her selection, the Ambassador said: "While I am honored to be selected for this award, this award really honors human rights reformers in Armenia, whether they are in government, civil society, or the media. As Secretary Clinton stated, 'human rights and fundamental freedoms ... are the birthright of every human being. They are the basis of human dignity, and they underpin international peace and progress.' As long as I have been a diplomat, I have believed in these principles, and worked to promote them wherever I have served. I believe Armenia has made much progress in 18 years, but that there is still much more work to do on human rights. I want to help with that process, and I want to do it constructively."