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Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award 2018

Deadline: March 31, 2018

Nominations are open for the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award. The award honors outstanding commitments to Robert F. Kennedy’s legacy of working for social justice

Robert F. Kennedy believed that each individual holds the power to invoke change, that a single voice has the ability to declare an iniquity, and that each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope. In the spirit of Robert F. Kennedy’s ideals, the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award was established in 1984 to honor courageous and innovative individuals striving for social justice throughout the world.


Each year, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights bestows awards in four major categories, each recognizing a person who has dedicated him or herself to the advancement of justice and human rights. Honorees include journalists, authors, activists, and leaders whose careers have served to further ideals of justice on an international scale.

  1. The RFK Journalism Awards  celebrate excellence in journalism in twelve categories, from investigative journalism to satirical cartoons and documentary film.

  2. The Robert F. Kennedy Book Award  recognizes authors whose works of moral insight and imagination uphold a  vision of political inclusion, compassion, and justice.

  3. The Ripple of Hope Award  pays tribute to leaders whose careers have served to champion Robert F. Kennedy’s ideals of equal opportunity, freedom of the individual, and justice for the oppressed and marginalized.

  4. The Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award  applauds an individual who stands up to oppression at grave personal risk in the nonviolent pursuit of human rights. In granting this award, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights stands with the activists and their organizations, supporting them in their endeavors, and connecting them to a global network in order both to strengthen their work and raise awareness. Since its inception in 1984, the Human Rights Award has honored and championed activists in 30 countries.

Cash Prize

A one-time total cash prize of U.S. $30,000 will be given to the nominee selected to receive the Award. While it is preferable that one nominee is given the Award, if more than one recipient is selected in a year, the cash prize will be divided equally among the recipients.

The ceremony is held in Washington, D.C. in November. The recipients are expected to travel to the U.S. to receive the Award at the ceremony in their honor, unless there are extenuating circumstances.


Persons and organizations working non-violently to promote and protect human rights of any race, creed, religion, nationality, gender, or sexual orientation are eligible for the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award. Nominees must not be part of a government institution or have an official role within a political party, although the nominee can be affiliated with a political party. Additionally, nominees must not be self-nominated and nominees must not be nominated for the purposes of a lifetime achievement award or a posthumous award.


  • Anyone can nominate for the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award.

  • Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights seeks nominations from a wide spectrum of individuals likely to know of appropriate candidates. While the Human Rights Award Judges may not nominate candidates for the Award, they may re-nominate candidates who were nominated but not selected in the previous year.

  • There is no limit to the number of nominations an individual can make.

  • Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights will request and collect nominations and assemble supporting materials for presentation to the Judges.

  • Those nominations that clearly do not fall within the established criteria will not be presented to the Judges.

Click here to nominate.

For more information, visit Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights.