World ORT at the Council of Europe


25 October 2006 World ORT at the Council of Europe World ORT has been elected to the Board of OING-Service, a body that helps non-government organisations accredited with the Council of Europe to participate in the pan-European organisations activities. It is the latest diplomatic success for veteran ORT lay leader Jean-Hugues Leopold-Metzger. Mr Leopold-Metzger is World ORTs face at the Council of Europe, which groups together 46 countries, including 21 from Central and Eastern Europe. Based in Strasbourg, the Council of Europes governmental, parliamentary, regional and other representatives aim to defend human rights, parliamentary democracy and the rule of law as well as to standardise member countries social and legal practices. Its very interesting for us to be able to see policy makers and show them what we do; I have to be an ambassador for ORT, Mr Leopold-Metzger said. Were recognised as a wonderful organisation that helps communities regardless of ethno-religious background. ORT France Vice President Mr Leopold-Metzger, who was President of ORT Strasbourg for 30 years as well as ORT France Treasurer, has steered World ORT to prominence in Europe since the early 1990s. World ORT, as an international non-government organisation (INGO), applied in 1992 for what is now called participatory status and was accepted, becoming the first Jewish organisation to be so since the Council of Europe was started in 1949, Mr Leopold-Metzger said. Everyone knows that World ORT is a Jewish organisation, but we are recognised because we work for people of all backgrounds. ORT International Cooperations non-sectarian work in developing and other countries gives World ORT a special cache and is good public relations for the Jewish people. This is particularly important now as European attitudes towards Jews are at their most problematic since the war. Our work is a weapon against antisemitism. The Council of Europe is the continents oldest political organisation and currently groups together 46 countries. Thanks to its participatory status, World ORT may be involved in the definition of Council of Europe policies, programmes and actions. It has also resulted in Council of Europe backing for some ORT projects, such as ORT Frances distance learning via internet for adults in poor countries. Since 1992, World ORT has served two six-year terms as a member of the Liaison Committee, the elected group of 36 INGO representatives that works to improve and intensify co-operation between INGOs and the Council of Europe. For those 12 years the Liaison Committee elected me to be one of the nine members of the Bureau, who are effectively the officers of the Liaison Committee, Mr Leopold-Metzger said. Now, as a member of OING-Service, World ORTs representative helps to manage the funds that allow the Liaison Committee to function smoothly and so ensure better representation of grassroots organisations at the various Council of Europe bodies. Jean-Hugues Leopold-Metzger World ORT must wait until 2009 before it is eligible for another six-year term on the Liaison Committee and Mr Leopold-Metzger expressed his hope that ORT will submit a candidate. I am very happy to have been able to raise ORTs profile in Europe and I strongly hope that ORT will be able to continue the work thats been done until now. I think it would be good for us to have a representative with an Eastern European background. This would reflect Europes eastward orientation and allow us to convey the superb work that we are doing in that part of the world. World ORT Director General Robert Singer paid tribute to Mr Leopold-Metzger. Jean-Hugues has been extraordinarily skilful and energetic in the way he has represented ORT at the Council of Europe, Mr Singer said. His being awarded the Chevalier de la Legion dHonneur in 2003 testifies to his contribution. I hope Jean-Hugues will continue to represent us because it will take some time to find someone capable of filling his shoes. World ORT, founded in St Petersburg in 1880, is the worlds largest Jewish education and vocational training organisation with some 200,000 students Jewish and non-Jewish in 58 countries.