Spindelegger: “Austria assumes responsibility for the global promotion of human rights”
Austria has been elected to the UN Human Rights Council for a three year term
Vienna, 20 May 2011 – On May 20, Austria was elected to the UN Human Rights Council by the UN General Assembly with 177 out of 181 votes. “This election result is a convincing expression of the international community’s support for Austria’s longstanding commitment to the rule of law and the protection of human rights. The fact that Austria vigorously promoted these issues, particularly during its membership of the UN Security Council and based on a broad dialogue with partners from all over the world, has clearly been appreciated. It is now up to us to live up to the confidence that has been placed in us by continuing and further intensifying our worldwide commitment to human rights,” emphasised Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger following the announcement of the result of the vote.
Austria will take up its membership in the Human Rights Council on 19 June. “As a member of the Human Rights Council we are facing major challenges, as demonstrated by the current events in the Arab region,” emphasised the Foreign Minister. “We are prepared to shoulder this responsibility. The commitment to human rights is a moral and a legal obligation. The Human Rights Council provides a forum to join forces with our partners and take important steps aimed at strengthening human rights at a global level.”
For its membership Austria has set itself specific priorities. Special importance is attached to the promotion of religious freedom and the protection of religious minorities. “Freedom of religion is a basic human right and we must not close our eyes to the worldwide increase in violence and discrimination against religious minorities,” said the Foreign Minister. “Therefore, we want to strengthen intercultural dialogue and further expand our tradition of open exchange.”
The protection of journalists and defence of the freedom of the press and freedom of opinion will be another priority. Austria’s third priority will focus on the rights of children. “We succeeded in substantially increasing the protection of children, particularly during our membership of the Security Council. It is a personal concern of mine to continue this commitment in the Human Rights Council as well,” said the Foreign Minister.
During its candidacy Austria promised to take a number of specific measures in the field of human rights protection, both at the international and domestic levels. “We are now setting to work to implement these projects on an ongoing basis,” concluded Spindelegger.
The Human Rights Council plays a key role in the promotion and strengthening of human rights at the international level. It was established in Geneva in 2006 as a subsidiary body of the UN General Assembly and consists of 47 member states who are elected by the General Assembly to serve on the Council for three years each.
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