Max van der Stoel served as the OSCE's first High Commissioner on National Minorities between 1993 and 2001. (OSCE)
THE HAGUE, 30 September 2003 - An international jury, led by the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, Rolf Ekéus, has decided to award the inaugural Van der Stoel Prize to the Latvian Centre for Human Rights and Ethnic Studies.
The prize of 50,000 euros, to be given every two years, is awarded in recognition of extraordinary and outstanding achievements aimed at improving the position of national minorities in the OSCE participating states.
The Latvian Centre for Human Rights and Ethnic Studies, established in 1993, has developed a reputation for timely and informed research and commentary on issues such as citizenship, minority-language broadcasting, minority participation in public life and the application of international minority-related standards in Latvia. The Centre is now recognised as an authoritative and objective source on human rights and inter-ethnic issues in Latvia. It also plays an important role in raising awareness and shaping public opinion about minority issues in a balanced and credible way.
"This Centre was chosen because of its outstanding record of achievement in addressing minority-related issues and its important contribution to improving inter-ethnic relations in Latvia," said Rolf Ekéus. "This cause was central to the work of Mr. van der Stoel and remains one of my priorities too."
The prize will be presented by the Netherlands Foreign Minister, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, at a ceremony starting at 16:00 tomorrow in the Ridderzaal, Binnenhof 11, The Hague. Max van der Stoel will address the gathering.
The award, honouring the man who served as the first OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities between 1993 and 2001, was established by the Netherlands Foreign Ministry in 2001. The Netherlands holds the OSCE Chairmanship in 2003.