MINELRES: Public recognition of ERRC through 2007 Max van der Stoel Award

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Sat Oct 20 17:53:52 2007


Original sender: European Roma Rights Centre <errc@errc.org>


Public recognition of ERRC through 2007 Max van der Stoel Award 

ERRC is given further impetus in it’s struggle to better the situation
of Roma in Europe. 

The Hague-Budapest, 19 October 2007 

The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) is proud to announce that it has
received the 2007 Max van der Stoel Award instituted by the Netherlands
Foreign Ministry. This biennial award is given in honor of Max van der
Stoel, the prominent Dutch statesman and the Organization for Security
and Cooperation in Europe’s first High Commissioner on National
Minorities. Max van der Stoel is known for establishing the office of
High Commissioner for National Minorities as a post which has achieving
outstanding success in preventing ethnic conflicts and improving the
position of national minorities in the OSCE participating States through
“quiet diplomacy”. 

The award was presented to the ERRC in The Hague on 16 October by Maxime
Verhagen, the Dutch Foreign Minister and the High Commissioner on
National Minorities of the OSCE Knut Vollebaek. The award ceremony was
attended by the two previous OSCE High Commissioner on National
Minorities, Max van der Stoel and Rolf Ekeus. The two previous award
winners, the 2003 recipient Latvian Centre for Human Rights and Ethnic
Studies and the 2005 recipient Memorial Society of Russia were also
present at the event. 

Appreciation for long term commitment 

At the award ceremony, Knut Vollebaek, who led the international jury of
selection, asserted that “The European Roma Rights Centre is commended
for its long-term commitment to combating discrimination against Roma
and its laudable efforts to attract attention to this pressing problem
facing Europe as a whole”. 

Expressing the delight of the ERRC at receiving the award, the ERRC’s
Executive Director Vera Egenberger outlined the impact of the
organization in changing the course of Roma rights. Ms. Egenberger
affirmed that when the ERRC was founded 11 years ago, “Roma where
commonly seen as a social problem”. The ERRC was able to impact on “this
approach to seeing the Roma communities being individually and
systematically discriminated groups”. Ms. Egenberger pointed out that as
a consequence, the strategies for the inclusion of Roma were altered
from “solely offering social welfare to a ‘rights based approach’ of
equal treatment and non-discrimination”. 

Ms. Egenberger and Mr. Berisha of the ERRC presented examples of
landmark cases of the principal campaigns the organization accomplished
but outlined that Roma “still face extensive exclusion, outright racism
and poverty”. Nonetheless, the ERRC’s representatives concluded that the
award will give the organization added momentum and with this boost the
ERRC will gain further impetus in struggling for the “betterment of the
situation of Roma in Europe in order to prevent that the current
situation from turning further into an openly burning conflict,
endangering the security and stability of society”. 

The ERRC, based in Budapest, has been engaged in advocating Romani
women’s rights, in campaigning for equal rights for Roma in education,
and for drawing attention to Roma victims of hate crime and coercive
sterilization, promoted the Roma’s rights to adequate housing,
documenting and publishing contemporary legal and social issues that the
European Roma face. Additionally to aforementioned activities of
lobbying on behalf of Roma rights internationally, remarkable success
has been achieved in paving the way for new dimensions in
anti-discriminatory legal litigation through various landmark legal
cases it brought before justice in national and international courts. 

-----------------------------
The following press release is issued by the Office of OSCE High
Commissioner on National Minorities to announce the presentation of the
2007 Max van der Stoel Award to the ERRC. 


European Roma Rights Centre wins 2007 Max van der Stoel prize  

THE HAGUE, 16 October 2007 – The European Roma Rights Centre was
presented the 2007 Max van der Stoel Award by Knut Vollebaek, the OSCE
High Commissioner on National Minorities, in a ceremony today. 

"The European Roma Rights Centre is commended for its long-term
commitment to combating discrimination against Roma and its laudable
efforts to attract attention to this pressing problem facing Europe as a
whole," said Vollebaek, who led the international jury that selected the
winner. 

The biennial award of 50,000 euros was instituted by the Netherlands
Foreign Ministry in honour of Max van der Stoel – a prominent Dutch
statesman and the OSCE's first High Commissioner on National Minorities
– to mark "extraordinary and outstanding achievements aimed at improving
the position of national minorities in the OSCE participating States." 

Since its establishment in 1996, the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC),
based in Budapest, has put Roma equality issues firmly on the agenda in
Europe and beyond. The ERRC has lobbied on behalf of Roma at
international fora, successfully defended Roma rights in a number of
landmark legal cases both internationally and in individual states,
called for an end to segregation of Roma in schools, sought justice for
Roma victims of hate crime and coercive sterilization, campaigned for
adequate housing and advocated for Romani women's rights. 

"Persistent discrimination against the Roma is a blot on the reputation
of Europe as a haven for human rights," said Vollebaek. "Compassionate
efforts for the Roma by the ERRC and other NGOs ought to be complemented
by the hard work of governments to address the plight of Roma in Europe
and to integrate the community into our societies with respect for their
culture and way of life." 

This year's award was presented by Maxime Verhagen, the Dutch Foreign
Minister at an awards ceremony in The Hague, which was attended by
Vollebaek and his two predecessors as the OSCE High Commissioner on
National Minorities, Max van der Stoel and Rolf Ekeus, as well as by the
two previous Award winners, the Latvian Centre for Human Rights and
Ethnic Studies (2003) and the Memorial Society of Russia (2005). 

For further information please contact: 

Bob Deen 
Office of OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities 

Prinsessegracht 22 
2514 AP The Hague 
Netherlands 
Tel: +31 70 312 55 59 
+31 65 317 9438 (mobile) 
Fax: +31 70 363 59 10 
hcnm@hcnm.org 

--------------------------------------------------------

The European Roma Rights Centre is an international public interest law
organisation which monitors the human rights situation of Roma and
provides legal defence in cases of human rights abuse. For more
information about the European Roma Rights Centre, visit the ERRC on the
web at http://www.errc.org 

To support the ERRC, please visit this link:
http://www.errc.org/cikk.php?cikk=2735 

European Roma Rights Centre
1386 Budapest 62
P.O. Box 906/93
Hungary
Tel: +36.1.413.2200
Fax:
+36.1.413.2201

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