ERRC wins 2007 Max van der Stoel prize

16 October 2007

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.

THE HAGUE – 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
Tel: +31 70 312 55 59
+31 65 317 9438 (mobile)
Fax: +31 70 363 59 10


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