Plan of action
A Plan of Action for Realising MINORITY RESEARCH CENTRE
Prior to the actual institutionalisation of the cooperation between the participating researchers and organisations, it is essential that this network of participants can be build, slowly but surely. This website will enable this slow expansion to be tracked and take shape, while providing the necessary visibility from the beginning. As this network expands it will be possible to secure funding for the Centre through different channels (funding requests to both public and private grant making bodies, including well sourced organisations like the Soros Foundation and the EU, tenders for projects, income through the provision of courses and the like). Taking time to establish the network that will underpin the centre makes sense, while the experience in working together inter alia through the various attempts to secure funding will enrich the co-operation (experience) between the participants of the network, and build a solid reputation, hence strengthening and expanding the network. The funding will eventually suffice to enable permanent staffing (key researchers in addition to a director and secretariat), and the actual setting up of the Centre. The remainder of this document reveals how we will ensure that MINORITY RESEARCH NETWORK will become a sustainable interdisciplinary minority rights research centre, with tangible results.
Phase I: Establishing the Network 2008-2009
As initiator of this plan, Kristin Henrard will be appointed Professor in Minority Protection at EUR at this time. In working towards this goal, she has had the support of the Dean of the Law Faculty and also of the Rector of EUR. Ultimately the goal is to establish a centre of excellence on minority protection issues which would be able to incorporate a global as well as a local and specific approach to these questions, in different contexts around the world. MINORITY RESEARCH NETWORK will pool relevant knowledge and expertise, and an interdisciplinary approach will enable experts with different backgrounds to work together in new and innovative ways, using comparative and time-series data to understand what can be done in each specific situation of minority rights abuses or promotion. During most of this phase I, MINORITY RESEARCH NETWORK will be less about offices, infrastructure and personnel than about building up reliable collaborative networks among groups of experts, through space, and across different dimensions of the ‘minorities question’. Developing networks that are deep and lasting takes time, and cannot be done without taking trouble to establish relations of trust. If this work is done properly, then it can provide a strong basis for future work, which will require cooperation among experts working across disciplines, regions and often in challenging assignments and contexts. MINORITY RESEARCH NETWORK will be officially launched towards the end of 2009 at the occasion of its first interdisciplinary conference. The identification of the exact theme and format is being discussed with the International Advisory Board but the opinion of the growing membership will also be sought (so as to ensure a strong presence).
Phase II: Consolidation of Minority Research Network 2009-2011
The start of Phase II is the establishment of the MINORITY RESEARCH NETWORK Secretariat within Erasmus University of Rotterdam (EUR) campus in May 2009. In line with the markedly interdisciplinary vision of MINORITY RESEARCH NETWORK, the plan was to locate it not under one Faculty, but at university level. While the Rector of the EUR supports this project and is member of the International Advisory Board, he was adamant that the EUR does not have centres at university level. The compromise solution is that the Network (over time Centre) will be based at the Law Faculty where Kristin Henrard is part of, but that great care will be taken to ensure that the image of MINORITY RESEARCH NETWORK is strongly interdisciplinary. The membership of prominent EUR scholars from non-law disciplines, like Han Entzinger is first sign, while the overall group of members, ambassadors and partner organizations further encourages collaborative and bridge-building research (which can be used in the varied activities envisaged) among scholars from a range of backgrounds, NGOs and advocacy groups and policy makers from government and elsewhere.
MINORITY RESEARCH NETWORK will start to bring together its networks of experts. By this time, a broad range of disciplines and areas of minority rights expertise will be represented on the basis of preparation in Phase I.
The initial core network of MINORITY RESEARCH NETWORK already consists of several researchers from several Dutch and Belgian universities, and also some from other European countries and even from other continents as can be gleaned from the lists elsewhere on the website. Further network associate members will continue to be invited over Phase II.
In addition links with the other organizations and institutes/centres working on minority issues mentioned above will be deepened, while contacts with organizations actually representing minorities are being sought and developed.
During Phase II the research and commissioned activities of the Network will steadily expand, as will the pool of expertise it can draw on. A solid financial basis will be established, and on this basis a proper centre with a core of research and administrative staff will be consolidated during this phase. There will be a Director, several Associate Directors, administrative staff and a projects and funding manager. In addition there will be a developing roster of associated experts and other partners. Continued overhead and project-based sponsorship will be sought from private foundations, grant-making bodies and endowments, and EU funding.