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IRI Honors Mattis and Haley for Commitment to Freedom and Democracy

May 21, 2018

Washington, DC—Secretary of Defense James Mattis and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley praised the International Republican Institute’s (IRI) 35 years of advancing freedom and democracy around the world at IRI’s annual Freedom Dinner, held May 15, 2018. 

Secretary Mattis and Ambassador Haley delivered remarks after being presented with the Freedom Award, IRI’s highest honor. Additional speakers included Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Lindsey Graham and IRI Board Member Congresswoman Kay Granger.

“By nurturing democracies abroad, by sharing best practices in responsive, inclusive and just governance, IRI prepares the soil for that flourishing,” said Secretary Mattis. “In this work, this Institute does not seek to force our values, any more than Lafayette, Kosciuszko or Von Steuben sought to impose their values… but we remain unapologetic in our defense of them.”

Ambassador Haley praised IRI for “always taking the side of freedom,” and thanked the Institute for “spreading the message around the globe that America is great not because of who we are, but for what we believe in.”

“As important as IRI’s programming are the democratic values we impart and the hope we bring to the millions of people around the world who want to be free – free to have a voice and a choice,” said IRI President Daniel Twining. “We are proud to accompany so many nations on their journey to democracy.”

IRI Chairman Senator John McCain was unable to attend this year’s dinner and was represented by his son, combat veteran Jimmy McCain. “My father asked me to thank you all for keeping faith with the ideals of this country,” said McCain.

Secretary Mattis also commended Senator McCain’s patriotism and leadership of IRI. “John McCain’s influence today is deeply felt in this capital, as it is in villages and refugee camps and places around the world,” said Secretary Mattis. “It speaks volumes about IRI that it is led by a man whose name is a better definition of a patriot than anything in the dictionary.”

Since 1995, IRI has presented the Freedom Award to individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the advancement of democracy and human freedom. Past recipients include President Ronald Reagan, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and slain Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.

Founded in 1983, IRI is a nonprofit nonpartisan organization that works with political parties, civic groups, and legislatures in more than 100 countries to strengthen democratic institutions, safeguard elections, advance citizen engagement, and promote open and accountable government.

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