Human Rights First is pleased to announce that U.S. Senator Ben Cardin will be honored with the 2023 Global Accountability Guardian Award at the organization’s annual awards celebration on October 17 in New York City. The organization honors Senator Cardin for his profound impact on how the United States promotes accountability for human rights abuse and corruption.
“It is our honor to celebrate Senator Ben Cardin’s remarkable efforts to advance respect for human rights and the rule of law,” said Michael Breen, President and CEO of Human Rights First. “His leadership in passing and reauthorizing the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act ensured that it will have a permanent place in U.S. foreign policy. His voice calling for the release of Vladimir Kara-Murza is a testament to his ongoing commitment to justice around the world. Much of what we and our partners in civil society have achieved in recent years to sanction human rights abusers and corrupt actors has been possible due to Senator Cardin’s dedication to human rights and the rule of law.”
As the principal sponsor of both the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act and the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, Senator Cardin constructed the legislative framework used by Human Rights First’s civil society coalition to pursue targeted sanctions against corrupt and rights-abusing actors.
These laws made it possible for the U.S. government to sanction individuals anywhere in the world for perpetrating human rights abuses and corruption, bringing a measure of accountability to those who had otherwise evaded justice.
In 2022, Senator Cardin successfully pushed for the permanent reauthorization of the Global Magnitsky Act. More than 500 human rights abusers and corrupt actors in 45 countries have been sanctioned under the Magnitsky authorities. The law and its results inspired U.S. partners, including the U.K., Canada, EU, and Australia, to adopt similar sanctions tools.
Senator Cardin has also been a leading voice in the effort to secure the release of Russian opposition leader, democracy advocate, journalist, and Human Rights First Senior Advisor Vladimir Kara-Murza, who has been detained in Russia since his arrest for opposing Putin’s brutal war on Ukraine. Kara-Murza had worked with Cardin to champion both the Sergei Magnitsky and Global Magnitsky Acts.
Senator Cardin led calls for Global Magnitsky sanctions against Russian officials involved in Kara-Murza’s detention,imposed by the U.S. government in March 2023 following a formal sanctions recommendation by Human Rights First.
Elected to the U.S. Senate from Maryland in 2006, Cardin serves as Co-Chair of the Helsinki Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, Chair of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee and is a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations, Finance, and Environment & Public Works committees. A national leader on health care, retirement security, the environment and fiscal issues, Cardin works across party lines to further U.S. national security and to ensure that good governance, transparency, and respect for human rights are integrated into American foreign policy. He has announced that he will not run for re-election at the end of his current term.
Human Rights First initiated the Global Accountability Guardian Award in 2021 to honor passionate and dedicated champions of human rights who work relentlessly to hold accountable human rights abusers worldwide. The award will be presented to Senator Cardin at the 2023 Human Rights First Awards Celebration Dinner on October 17, 2023, at Cipriani 25 Broadway in New York City.