THE HAGUE, 5 October 2005 - An international jury, led by the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, Rolf Ekeus, has decided to present the 2005 Van der Stoel Award to the International Volunteer Public Organization "Memorial Historical, Educational, Human Rights and Charitable Society".
"The Memorial Society will receive the prize for its for tireless and courageous work in the field seeking to raise awareness of injustices and violations of human rights and to build trust between different ethnic groups; for combating ethnic discrimination and repression and through monitoring, investigation and the dissemination of information preventing interethnic tension and conflict; and for protecting the human rights of ordinary men, women and children facing persecution for their ethnic origin," said Commissioner Ekeus, explaining the motivation of the jury.
The Memorial Historical, Educational, Human Rights and Charitable Society (usually abbreviated to Memorial) was established at the end of the 1980s in Moscow.
In 1996, the scope of Memorial's activities broadened to include the collection and dissemination of information about ethnic discrimination in large parts of the OSCE area.
As well as the provision of legal advice and concrete assistance to people in need, Memorial's monitoring work has also earned significant recognition in Russia and the international community.
"The struggle for human dignity and social cohesion, especially within multiethnic and multicultural societies, must be supported everywhere", added Rolf Ekeus. " Memorial's efforts to expose violations of human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to national minorities, and to help victims of injustice form an inspiring example of compassion and social responsibility."
The prize of 50,000 euro, named after Max van der Stoel - a prominent Dutch statesman and the OSCE's first High Commissioner on National Minorities - was established by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2001 and is awarded every two years to an individual or an institution in recognition of extraordinary and outstanding achievements aimed at improving the position of national minorities in the OSCE participating states. The inaugural Van der Stoel Award was received by the Latvian Centre for Human Rights and Ethnic Studies in 2003.
This year's award will be presented by the Netherlands Foreign Minister, Dr. Bernard Rudolf Bot. Max van der Stoel and High Commissioner Ekeus will speak at the award ceremony.
Media representatives are invited to attend the award ceremony at 17.00, on Wednesday, 12 October at Het Spaansche Hof, The Hague.
For further information please contact:
Office of OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities
2514 AP The Hague
Tel: +31 70 312 55 03
+31 65 317 87 12 (mobile)
Fax: +31 70 363 59 10
Netherlands Foreign Ministry
Tel.: +31 70 348 6576