Wien, 28. August 2009 Rede/Interview

Rede von Außenminister Spindelegger anlässlich der Festveranstaltung 30 Jahre UNO City Wien (nur englisch)

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Ceremony on the occasion of the 30th Anniversaryof
the Vienna International Centre (VIC)
Statement by Mr. Michael Spindelegger,
Austrian Federal Minister for European and International Affairs,
28 August 2009


President Fischer,
Madam Speaker,
Dear Friends here at the UN,

It is a great honour and pleasure to welcome all of you on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Vienna International Centre. Let me particularly welcome UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon – a great friend of Austria with “personal experience” with the Vienna Headquarters. We are very happy that you have come to celebrate this special day with us!

After three decades with Vienna as one of the headquarters of the United Nations, today’s ceremony acknowledges both the achievements of the UN organisations and entities based here, and Austria’s commitment to the United Nations.

Since becoming member of the United Nations in 1955, our work with and for the UN has been an important pillar of Austria’s foreign policy. Austria’s current membership in the Security Council – the centre of the UN system of collective security – is also a manifestation of our strong will to contribute to the goals and principles of the UN.

After valuable earlier experiences in 1973-74 and 1991-92, this is the third time Austria serves on the Council. We are grateful for the trust accorded to us by UN Member States in electing us and strive to live up to it by exercising our responsibilities in a balanced, impartial and transparent manner.

The UN organisations here in Vienna work to address today’s challenges such as organised crime, corruption, drug trafficking, terrorism and the threat of nuclear proliferation as well as energy and food insecurity. All these challenges have the potential to endanger international peace and security.

As a member of the Security Council, we have seen numerous examples for the importance of the work of the four Vienna-based organisations for international peace and security and thus for the tasks and activities of the Council. To illustrate this, let me mention some of them: 

- The excellent functioning of the CTBT monitoring system as a neutral source of information was clearly demonstrated after the deplorable nuclear test by North Korea last May. The Security Council recognised the importance of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty by adopting a resolution calling onNorth Korea to join the Treaty as soon as possible.[1] In this respect, let me reiterate the need for early entry into force of the Treaty.

- The Security Council also demandedthat North Korea return to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the IAEA safeguards system. This highlighted the significance of the International Atomic Energy Agency as international nuclear watchdog.

- The Security Council explicitly supported UNODC’s efforts on the implementation of the ECOWAS Plan of Action against Drug Trafficking (in a Statement on Guinea-Bissau[2]) and its projects in Afghanistan – an important contribution for maintaining peace and security and contributing to long term stability.

- Last year’s global food crisis sadly demonstrated that hunger and malnutrition can bring about major unrest. Equally, lack of access to energy can be a cause for tensions between states. Through its work to fight poverty and to promote environmental sustainability, UNIDO makes a major contribution to food and energy security, and thus to reducing international as well as internal tensions.

All of this also shows the need for dialogue and international cooperation to overcome today’s conflicts and threats.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have therefore made it one of my foreign policy priorities to establish Vienna even stronger as a platform for peace and dialogue. I am glad that the informal talks on Western Sahara, which we hosted at the beginning of August, contributed to restarting the UN process. Austria always stands ready to host similar meetings or conferences.

Let me close by using this opportunity to thank all staff here at the Vienna International Centre for their important work and tireless efforts. Constructive dialogue and solution-oriented thinking – the so called Vienna Spirit – have always been major characteristics of international organisations here in Vienna.

You are all excellent examples of this spirit. We are looking forward to continue our cooperation with you, your organisations and the United Nations family as a whole and are firmly committed to support the UN Headquarters in Vienna also in the future.

Thank you.

[1] SR-Res. 1874 (2009),OP 29.
[2] S/PRST/2009/6 of 9 April 2009.