[Human Rights] HRC/17th Session, Interactive dialogue with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
UN Human Rights Council – 17th Regular Session
Interactive dialogue with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Statement by Ambassador Christian Strohal
Permanent Representative of Austria to the United Nations in Geneva
Thank you, Mr. President.
Austria fully aligns itself with the statement made by Hungary on behalf of the European Union.
Let me first of all express our satisfaction for the arrests of both Ratko Mladic in Serbia and Bernard Munyagishari in the Democratic Republic of Congo. These arrests clearly demonstrate that persons who committed serious human rights violations cannot escape justice. This is a clear success for international criminal justice and will contribute to break the vicious cycle of impunity in these countries and help to provide redress to the victims.
Madame High Commissioner,
Austria wishes to warmly thank you for your comprehensive and clear opening statement. We appreciate your leadership on thematic human rights issues and your approach to country situations, especially on the recent events in the Middle East and North Africa. Let me take this opportunity to highlight our strong support to the work and independence of your Office. The last months have shown that the Council is able to address urgent human rights situations promptly and effectively. Now it will be important to ensure systematic and adequate follow up.
We appreciate and support your cooperation and engagement with the Egyptian authorities, including your visit to the country. We further commend the decision to establish a regional office in Cairo. The decision of Tunisia to grant access to the Special Rapporteur on torture as well as to the Special Rapporteur on counter-terrorism is very valuable and a clear sign of the authorities to improve the human rights situation in the country. The opening of a country office in Tunisia will pave the way to continue and strengthen cooperation between the government and the OHCHR.
We share your assessment that democratic transition is incomplete if it fails to include appropriate institutional reforms, including transitional justice processes, which are indispensable for the proper functioning of a democratic system. The international community has a crucial role to play in this regard. It is our responsibility to help these states and their people during difficult and turbulent times.
Austria reiterates its position that serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law have to be investigated and that perpetrators have to be held accountable. Victims have to receive adequate reparations. In this respect, Austria supports the recent establishment of Commissions of Inquiry on Libya and Côte d’Ivoire. We are looking forward to the presentation of their reports and we support the renewal of the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry for Libya. With regard to Syria, we join the HC in the request that the human rights violations in the country come to an end and that the Syrian government closely cooperates with the Office.
Madame High Commissioner,
As highlighted by you, unfortunately many challenges persist. There are still countries where peaceful protesters are killed by government forces; where people are suffering due to continued oppression by the state and where the right of freedom of expression is denied and religious minorities are persecuted. Of particular concern to Austria are reports on the deliberate and targeted killings of journalists. We call on states to hold the perpetrators to account and to ensure the effective protection of journalists. It is our common task to avoid further human rights violations, to ensure accountability and to guarantee human rights for all.
Before concluding, I would like to emphasis the importance Austria attaches to the work of treaty bodies and special procedures. We welcome that states increasingly cooperate with special procedures and extend invitations for country visits. Adequate follow up to their reports and recommendations has to be ensured. On this the Council is, however, often failing. How could we together with your Office ensure a more systematic and transparent follow-up? A proper and efficient follow-up process to UPR recommendations is of equal importance for Austria. After our own UPR, we will continue to ensure that recommendations have an impact on the ground and are effectively implemented at the national level.
I thank you.