Praise for World ORT at the Council of Europe


October 29, 2007 Praise for World ORT at the Council of Europe World ORTs contribution to European values of democracy and the rule of law has been praised by leading officials at the Council of Europe. At a meeting today with the World ORT Executive Committee and senior World ORT staff in Strasbourg, Annelise Oeschger, President of the Councils International Non-Government Organisations Conference, and Jutta Gutzkow, Head of the Division of NGOs and Civil Society at the Councils Directorate General of Democracy and Political Affairs praised World ORTs work and philosophy. Mrs Gutzkow told the meeting how proud she was that World ORT and the Council of Europe were working increasingly close together. We rely on NGOs like World ORT; World ORT understands the importance of partnership with other organisations in achieving objectives, she said. Like Mrs Gutzkow, Mrs Oeschger, voice her appreciation for World ORTs pragmatic approach which saw it reach beyond the Jewish community to help people from a wide variety of ethno-religious backgrounds through its International Cooperation (IC) department. World ORT Director General Robert Singer said he was extremely happy to hear such positive feedback. It is deeply gratifying to hear that ORT is regarded as one of the most valuable NGOs that work with the Council of Europe, Mr Singer said. Our pragmatism, our ability to do what we say well do, and our intercultural commitments were not just appreciated, they were identified and praised by people who are profoundly familiar with the NGO sector. World ORTs Executive Committee outside the Council of Europe. World ORTs representative at the Council of Europe, Jean-Hugues Leopold-Metzger, said he was very happy that by holding the Executive Committee meeting in Strasbourg, senior World ORT lay leaders could hear for themselves how highly regarded was World ORTs non-sectarian work. Both Mrs Gutzkow and Mrs Oeschger underlined the importance of international NGOs at the Council of Europe and especially what World ORT is doing through its IC work, Mr Leopold-Metzger, who is Co-Chair of the IC Standing Committee, said. He also expressed his delight that, at a session held at the palace of the Council of Europe today, the Executive Committee approved the continuation of ORT IC operations. At the instigation of World ORT Deputy President Dr Jean de Gunzburg, a four-year IC business plan had been prepared which was presented to the Executive Committee for review. Mr Singer said: It was a very professional business plan and it was endorsed not only by the Executive Committee but also by senior representatives of the Council of Europe who joined the session. ORT America President Doreen Hermelin, who is a member of the World ORT Executive Committee, said it had been an incredible experience to hear how highly the Council of Europes representatives had spoken about ORT. The reputation we have is very special. Its been a wonderful opportunity to see and hear this at first hand, Mrs Hermelin said. She added that further evidence of the high regard in which ORT was held could be seen at yesterdays reception at ORT Strasbourg, where the Executive Committee met students including residential students from as far away as Djerba and heard how they were benefiting from the institutions high academic standards. Also attending were members of the European Parliament, the European Commission, the provincial government, directors of local universities and representatives of the Jewish community, all of whom praised ORT Strasbourgs achievements. In 1992, World ORT became the first Jewish organisation to gain participatory status at the Council of Europe, the body founded in 1949 which groups together 46 countries to defend human rights, parliamentary democracy and the rule of law as well as to standardise member countries social and legal practices. Participatory status allows World ORT to be involved in the definition of Council of Europe policies, programmes and action. It has also resulted in Council backing from some ORT projects, such as ORT Frances distance learning, via the internet, for adults in poor countries. Since then, World ORT has served two six-year terms as a member of the Liaison Committee, the elected group of 36 International NGO (INGOs) representatives that works to improve and intensify cooperation between INGOs and the Council of Europe. Throughout that time, Mr Leopold-Metzger was elected to the Bureau, the nine members of which are effectively the officers of the Liaison Committee. World ORT is not eligible for another six-year term on the Liaison Committee until 2009. In the meantime, it has been elected to the Board of OING-Service, a body that helps to manage the funds that allow the Liaison Committee to function smoothly and so ensure better representation of grassroots organisation at the various Council of Europe bodies. World ORT is the worlds largest Jewish education and vocational training non-government organisation and has benefited more than 3 million people Jewish and non-Jewish in 100 countries since its foundation in 1880.