Public recognition of ERRC through 2007 Max van der Stoel Award

19 October 2007

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

The Hague-Budapest

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 Ekéus. 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 organisation in changing the course of Roma rights. Ms. Egenberger affirmed that when the ERRC was founded 11 years ago, "Roma were 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 organisation 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 organisation 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 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 sterilisation, 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.


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