The conception of ERAD dates back to November 2003 in Gent, Belgium at a three day conference which was jointly organised under the auspices of the European Council for Refugees and Exiles (ECRE).


» Download the Gent declaration in english | en français (PDF)
» Download the Report of the European Conference on Strengthening Refugee Participation in European Asylum Policies and Programmes, 12- 14 November 2003 Geuzenhuis Conference Centre, Gent in english (PDF)

The following are highlights of the recommendations endorsed by the conference:

  • Refugee Community Organisation (RCOs) should engage in lobbying and advocacy on EU asylum policy.
  • RCOs could monitor failings at the local and national level in the implementation of EU directives and bring findings to the attention of ECRE member agencies.
  • ECRE should dedicate resources to developing the lobbying skills of RCOs and look at how they can achieve compatibility and link advocacy work, for example by using more case studies of how the real lives of asylum seekers and refugees are affected.
  • RCOs should make more effort to co-exist with local communities- set up local projects for both refugees and the host society.
  • The EU should not through its policies exclude asylum seekers from the EU: this includes the way in which asylum seekers are treated inside and outside of the European Union.
  • The fundamental rights of asylum seekers and refugees as enshrined in the Declaration of Human Rights must be respected and adhered to.
  • Priority funding schemes should be set up for RCOs, including budgets dedicated to RCO projects and capacity building programmes for RCOs.
  • Networking and partnerships at European level should be encouraged.


  • We believe that refugees and migrants are, in specific ways, the appropriate persons to take care of their destiny.
  • We will set up a network of associations, organisations of refugee groups whose role is to be actively engaged in the decision making process on their behalf, with the European institutions and Member states.

© ERAD - European Refugee Advocacy Organisation 2007