The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) presented its 2013 Human Rights Award to the Center for Democracy and Reconciliation in Southeast Europe, citing its commitment to strengthening democratic and pluralistic societies, its work to include disadvantaged groups in society and its mission to foster reconciliation in Southeast Europe.
The prestigious award was presented on October 28, 2013, at a special gala evening to honour the CDRSEE for its 15 years of commitment to human rights, in particular for the impact the center has had on expanding multi-perspective education that builds compassion, understanding and ultimately peace in the region.
Mr Kurt Beck, Chairman of FES, presenting the award to Mr Nenad Sebek, Executive Director of the CDRSEE, said the honour “acknowledged the work of the CDRSEE in strengthening democratic and pluralistic societies and thereby working on preventing future conflicts.”
FES is a non-profit German political foundation committed to the advancement of public policy issues in the spirit of the basic values of social democracy through education, research, and international cooperation. The foundation, headquartered in Bonn and Berlin, was founded in 1925 and is named after Friedrich Ebert, Germany's first democratically elected president.
FES presents the Human Rights Award each year in honor of Karl and Ida Feist, two labor activists whose own bitter experiences with war and destruction led them to advocate peace and non-violence. The award singles out the organisation or individual that the foundation feels has contributed most to Human Rights in different parts of the world.
Mr Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, said in his laudatory speech that the CDRSEE has given an “invaluable contribution to civil society in the Balkans and in reconciling the nations of the region. For bad things to happen, all it takes is for good people to do nothing: The CDRSEE belongs to those who work every single day for democracy, the rule of law and human rights.”
For the CDRSEE, this award culminates 15 years of dedication and perseverance, reflected in the CDRSEE’s flagship Joint History Project, the TV news talk show Vicinities, and many other programmes that have touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of people across the region. The CDRSEE, which celebrated its 15th birthday earlier this month, works tirelessly, always keeping its founders’ goals and values at the forefront.
“(I)t is these two things – values and goals – which, I believe, have brought together the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and the CDRSEE here today,” Nenad Sebek, executive director of CDRSEE, said in his acceptance speech, as he thanked FES for recognizing the long-term value of the CDRSEE’s programmes.
The award ceremony included a panel discussion entitled, “Divided Memory - Common History: Shaping a peaceful future of Southeast Europe”. Mr Beck, chairman of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, presented the award to Mr Sebek, and Mr Schulz, President of the European Parliament, gave the laudatory speech.
In receiving this honour, CDRSEE joins 19 other human and civil rights activists, including the first honouree, Marie-Schlei-Verein e.V., a human rights organization working for women’s rights, the Israeli-Palestinian Coalition for Peace, the International Tribunal for Rwanda, Truth Commissions of Chile and Peru and many other admirable individuals and organisations that have dedicated themselves to promoting human rights and peace.
The Human Rights Award, presented for the first time in 1994, dates back to the legacy of Karl and Ida Feist from Hamburg. The couple stipulated in their will that their fortune be administered by the fund, which is to present a Human Rights Award once a year. According to the donators, the Human Rights Award should be awarded to individuals or organisations who rendered outstanding services for human rights in the different parts of the world.
More information is available on the FES website, at: http://www.fes.de/themen/menschenrechtspreis/en/mrp2013.php