The Atlantic Council Freedom Awards recognize extraordinary individuals and organizations that defend and advance the cause of freedom around the world. These awards embody the Council’s mission to strengthen transatlantic leadership on global values. Inaugurated in Berlin on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall, the 2009 Freedom Awards recognized the efforts of the American, German, Polish, Czech and Slovak, as well as the allied troops of NATO, to bring about a peaceful end to the Cold War. In 2010, on the 30th anniversary of Solidarity’s founding, Wrocław, Poland became the permanent European home of the Freedom Awards in recognition of Poland’s unique role in spreading the message of solidarity and freedom globally. Each year the awards celebrate past triumphs of freedom, but also those who continue the struggle today.

2017 Awardees:

Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski
US National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter
Posthumous award presented by Jerzy Koźmiński, President, Polish-American Freedom Foundation
Accepted by Ian Brzezinski

Ambassador Daniel Fried
Former US Ambassador to Poland
Introduced by Andrzej Olechowski, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Poland

NATO Forces in Central and Eastern Europe
Accepted by General Salvatore Farina, Commander JFC-Brunssum
Introduction by General James L. Jones, Jr., USMC (Ret.)

Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS)
Global Search and Rescue NGO
Represented by founders Christopher, Regina and Maria Luisa Catrambone
Introduced by Her Excellency, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, President of Malta (via video)

Ani Choying Drolma
Musician, Humanitarian, and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador to Nepal
Introduced by Ambassador Paula Dobriansky, Senior Fellow, JFK Belfer Center, Harvard University



  • Dr. Horst Teltschik, German diplomat; former National Security Advisor to Chancellor Helmut Kohl
  • Father Maciej Zięba, Polish philosopher, writer, and theologian
  • Nighat Dad, Executive Director, Digital Rights Foundation, Pakistan
  • Syria Civil Defence (“The White Helmets”)


  • Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden
  • Donetsk National University
  • Agnieszka Holland, Polish film director
  • Nadia Savchenko
  • Boris Nemtsov, posthumous award presented by Garry Kasparov


  • Toomas Hendrik Ilves, President of the Republic of Estonia
  • Miklos Nemeth, former Prime Minister of Hungary
  • The People of the Maidan, accepted by Ruslana and Kateryna Kruk
  • The Polish-American Freedom Foundation, accepted by Jerzy Kozminski and introduced by Zbigniew Brzezinski


  • Tadeusz Mazowiecki, Former Prime Minister of the Republic of Poland
  • European Humanities University of Belarus
  • Malala Yousafzai, Pakistani activist
  • Diplomat for Freedom Award: Mark Palmer, former US Ambassador to Hungary (posthumous)


  • Władysław Bartoszewski, Chairman, International Auschwitz Council
  • The National Endowment for Democracy, Represented by NED President Carl Gershman
  • Emma Bonino, Vice President of the Italian Senate and Trustee of the Arab Democracy
  • Moncef Marzouki, President of Tunisia on behalf of the people of Tunisia (award presented in absentia)


  • John McCain, US Senator
  • Radosław Sikorski, Foreign Minister of Poland, on behalf of the Polish people
  • Vlad Filat, Prime Minister of Moldova, on behalf of the Moldovan people
  • Adam Michnik and Helena Łuczywo, Gazeta Wyborcza
  • Belarus Free Theater, the Human Rights Center “Viasna,” and the Belarusian Association of Journalists, on behalf of the Belarusian people
  • Esraa Abdel Fattah, on behalf of Egypt’s young generation
  • Ron Asmus, former US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (posthumous award)


  • Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament
  • Alexander Kwaśniewski, former President of Poland
  • Javier Solana, former NATO Secretary General and EU High Representative
  • The Ladies in White / Las Damas de Blanco


  • Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State, on behalf of the American people
  • Guido Westerwelle, Vice-Chancellor of Germany, on behalf of the German people
  • Lech Walesa, former President of Poland, on behalf of the Polish people
  • Václav Havel, former President of Czechoslovakia, on behalf of the Czech and Slovak people
  • James Stavridis, Supreme Allied Commander Europe, on behalf of the allied troops of NATO
  • Klaus Wowereit, Mayor of Berlin, on behalf of the people of Berlin