ODIHR Director saddened by death of Nicolae Gheorghe, architect of OSCE work on Roma issues
WARSAW, 9 August 2013 – The Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), Ambassador Janez Lenarčič, expressed sadness today at the death of Nicolae Gheorghe, a prominent Roma human rights activist and former ODIHR’s Adviser on Roma and Sinti issues.
“Nicolae Gheorghe made an enormous contribution, through his tireless work as an activist, advocate and expert, to raising awareness in Europe of the need to guarantee the security of Roma communities and the human rights of their members,” Lenarčič said. “The establishment of the Contact Point for Roma and Sinti Issues, at ODIHR, and the Action Plan on Improving the Situation of Roma and Sinti in the OSCE Area, are both the direct results of his efforts – they are part of his legacy.”
Gheorghe was appointed as the first Contact Point for Roma and Sinti Issues in 1999, and then, as ODIHR intensified its work in this area, as the Office's first Adviser on Roma and Sinti issues, a position he held until 2006. The work at ODIHR followed 20 years of engagement on Roma issues, first in his native Romania, and then on a broader geographic scale. In 1993, he founded Romani Criss, which remains one of the most important NGOs working on Roma issues in Europe.
In addition to his work as an activist, Gheorghe made significant academic contributions on Roma issues, authoring numerous articles and publications in this area.
“This is a terrible loss for both the Roma community and the OSCE family,” Lenarčič said.