The Robert F. Kennedy Book Award was founded in 1980, with the proceeds from Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.'s best-selling biography, Robert Kennedy and His Times. Each year the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights presents an award to the book which "most faithfully and forcefully reflects Robert Kennedy's purposes - his concern for the poor and the powerless, his struggle for honest and even-handed justice, his conviction that a decent society must assure all young people a fair chance, and his faith that a free democracy can act to remedy disparities of power and opportunity." The Robert F. Kennedy Book Award has been recognized as one of the most prestigious honors an author can receive.
John Seigenthaler, founder of the First Amendment Center, award-winning editor, journalist, and publisher atThe Tennessean daily newspaper and former administrative assistant to RFK at the U.S. Department of Justice, now chairs the award each year selecting a panel of four judges to choose the winner.
Kathryn Sikkink received the 2012 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award for The Justice Cascade: How Human Rights Prosecutions Are Changing World Politics.