Serbia’s CRTA Wins the 2018 Democracy Defender Award

Ambassador Desirée M.J. Kopmels, of the Delegation of the Netherlands to the OSCE announces the winner of the 2018 Democracy Defender Award on behalf of Canada, Denmark, Montenegro, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, the United States of America, and the Netherlands. (USOSCE/Colin Peters)

Serbian NGO ‘The Center for Research, Transparency and Accountability (CRTA)’ Receives the 2018 Democracy Defender Award

As delivered by Ambassador Desirée M.J. Kopmels of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
to the Permanent Council, Vienna
March 1, 2018

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

On behalf of the delegations of Canada, Denmark, Montenegro, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and the Netherlands, I would like to inform the Permanent Council that the recipient of the 2018 Democracy Defender Award will be the Serbian NGO “The Center for Research, Transparency and Accountability,” or CRTA.

CRTA receives the award this year for its outstanding contribution to Serbia’s ongoing democratic progress. Its ground-breaking projects have brought greater transparency to public institutions, engaged ever more citizens in the democratic process, and CRTA’s election monitoring efforts have proven invaluable in providing the Serbian public with professional, impartial, and timely information. CRTA’s work has inspired regional activist networks, and won wide praise from the international community.

I would also like to take this opportunity to invite participating States and representatives of OSCE institutions to join us at this year’s Democracy Defender Award Presentation and Seminar, which will take place on Friday, March 16th, at Schwedenhaus. The event will begin at 10:00 with an expert panel debate on “Democracy in the Digital Age” followed at 12:00 by the presentation of the Democracy Defender Award to CRTA. A “save-the-date” invitation has been circulated, and an official invitation will follow soon. As space at the event is limited, we encourage you to register as soon as possible.

Mr. Chair, The Democracy Defender Award honours a person or group for exceptional contributions to the promotion of democracy and the defence of human rights in the spirit of the Helsinki Final Act and other OSCE principles and commitments. The Democracy Defender Award was established in 2016 to recognize the enormous contribution civil society makes to defending and promoting democracy in our region. While the space for civil society in parts of the OSCE area continues to shrink and attacks on human rights defenders continue to rise, it is incumbent upon us as OSCE governments to reverse this troubling trend, and to ensure that civil society is able to thrive. We have committed to do so in the best interests of the citizens we serve. Therefore, Mr. Chair, we reiterate our steadfast intention to support civil society’s right to speak truth to power throughout the OSCE area, whether that be at the grassroots level, or here, inside the Hofburg.

Finally, I would like to invite all participating States to co-sponsor this event. This can be done by expressing your interest to co-sponsor to any of the organising delegations.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.