The award honors U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., who represented a San Francisco-area district from 1981 to his death in 2008. Lantos, who was born in Hungary in 1928, was the only Holocaust survivor ever to serve in the U.S. Congress and one of the founders of the Congressional human rights caucus in 1983.
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright joined Clinton for the ceremony at the U.S. Capitol.
In its announcement, the Lantos Foundation said Clinton has advocated for human rights during her career as a lawyer, wife of a U.S. president and senator. The foundation especially cited her 1995 speech on women's rights in Beijing.
"Her proclamation that 'women's rights are human rights' changed the way the world thinks about human rights and opened doors for women in a way that only Hillary Clinton could," Katherine Lantos Swett, the foundation's president, said.
"Furthermore, Secretary Clinton's pioneering work on Internet Freedom has focused worldwide attention on the urgent need to 'tear down the walls' of closed societies that seek to imprison their citizens behind internet firewalls that have become the iron curtains of this 'virtual' century. She has also provided a powerful intellectual framework for advancing this central human right of our time."