The Philadelphia Liberty Medal, established in 1988 to heighten recognition of the principles that founded this nation and to serve as a lasting legacy to the 200th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution, honors an individual or an organization from anywhere in the world that has demonstrated leadership and vision in the pursuit of liberty of conscience or freedom from oppression, ignorance, or deprivation.
The Philadelphia Liberty Medal is awarded by an independent International Selection Commission chaired by Martin Meyerson, University Professor and President Emeritus of the University of Pennsylvania. The Medal is a program of The Philadelphia Foundation, which assumed responsibility for The Philadelphia Liberty Medal in 2004. H. Craig Lewis chairs the Board of The Philadelphia Foundation and its Philadelphia Liberty Medal Committee.
Six former recipients of the Liberty Medal have subsequently won the Nobel Peace Prize.Past recipients of the Philadelphia Liberty Medal are: Polish Solidarity founder--and then President--Lech Walesa in 1989; former U.S. President Jimmy Carter in 1990; former Costa Rican President Oscar Arias and the French medical and human rights organization Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) in 1991; the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in 1992, South African Presidents F.W. de Klerk and Nelson Mandela in 1993; Czech President Václav Havel in 1994; the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, in 1995; former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres and the late King Hussein of Jordan in 1996; the global news network CNN International in 1997; Irish Peace Negotiator Senator George Mitchell in 1998; South Korean President Kim Dae-jung in 1999; Doctors James Watson and Francis Crick, co-discoverers of the structure of DNA, in 2000; United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2001; United States Secretary of State Colin Powell in 2002; U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day OConnor in 2003; and, in 2004, Afghan President, Hamid Karzai.