On a regular basis Austria has to submit state reports to the international human rights monitoring mechanisms of the United Nations and the Council of Europe on the measures taken to fulfil its obligations derived from the ratification of international human rights conventions and treaties. Austria cooperates with all monitoring mechanisms, whose recommendations constitute an important basis for Austria’s continuing efforts to improve its own system of human rights protection.
Under the following UN conventions Austria is regularly submitting reports:
- UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR)
- UN Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR)
- UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT)
- UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)
- UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD)
- UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
- UN Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (CED)
- UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
- Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict (CRC-OP-AC)
- Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children child prostitution and child pornography (CRC-OP-SC)
Upon recommendation of the monitoring mechanisms, Austria increasingly applies a shortened reporting procedure in which the respective monitoring mechanisms transmit a list of issues to Austria prior to the submission of the Austrian report.
Within the framework of the Council of Europe Austria reports regularly under the following conventions as well as receives country visits from the respective committees:
- European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT),
- Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities
- European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages
- Revised European Social Charter
- European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)
- European Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings
The Austrian state reports are being coordinated within a special coordinating body, the group of “human rights co-ordinators” of all Austrian Federal Ministries as well as from the 9 Provinces. For each state report one Ministry is the main responsible authority and leads the process.
All Austrian state reports submitted to the United Nations can be found here. A very good overview about these reports, including the recommendations of the monitoring mechanisms as well as further information can also be found on the website of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
More information on these reports (including German versions) are available on the websites of the respective competent Federal Ministry: :
UN-Committee against Torture (CAT)
Austria is a state party of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (adopted 10 December 1984) since 1987.
Art 17 of the Convention foresees the creation of a Committee, consisting of ten independent experts, to which the state parties have to submit state reports on a regular basis of 4 years, presenting the measures taken in order to fulfil their obligations under the Convention.
The last review of Austria took place in Geneva from 5 until 6 of May 2010. The 5th Austrian state report as well as the replies to the “List of Issues” formed the basis for the oral examination by the Committee against Torture (Introductory Speech of the Head of the Austrian Delegation). A delegation, led by a high level representative of the Austrian Foreign Ministry, including also representatives from the Federal Chancellery, the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the Federal Ministry of Justice, answered the questions of the Committee and presented the Austrian engagement for the implementation of the Convention.
As a result of this examination on 20 May 2010 the Committee published a list of recommendations, the so-called „Concluding Observations" (German translation) . In the next reporting cycle in 4 years Austria has to report on the status of the implementation of these recommendations.
Currently, the 6th state review of Austria, which will take place in 2015, is being prepared. Therefore, Austria submitted its response to the list of issues to the monitoring mechanism in due time.
European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT)
The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) has been established through the correspondent European Convention of 1987. According to Art. 1 of the Convention:
"There shall be established a European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (hereinafter referred to as "the Committee"). The Committee shall, by means of visits, examine the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty with a view to strengthening, if necessary, the protection of such persons from torture and from inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."
The CPT fulfils its preventive mandate mainly through two kind of country visits: periodic visits and ad-hoc visits. Periodic visits are being conducted on a regular basis in all member states of the Council of Europe. Ad-hoc visits are being conducted in those states that the Committee deems necessary and “as appear to it to be required in the circumstances”.
After each visit the CPT writes a report, presenting its findings and recommendations, based upon which a dialogue with the country concerned is being developed.
CPT visited Austria the last time – in the context of a periodic visit – from 15 until 25 February 2009. After the drafting of the CPT report Austria submitted within time its response. The CPT-report as well as the Austrian response was published beginning of 2010.
The next periodic visit of CPT has been announced for the second part of 2014.
European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)
Die European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) is another monitoring mechanism of the Council of Europe, whose task is the fight against racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance in the 47 Member States of the Council of Europe.
The Commission was created 1993 within the framework of the summit of the head of states of the members of the Council of Europe in Vienna and started its work in 1994. 2002 the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe revised the statute of ECRI and confirmed its important role as an independent human rights monitoring mechanism.
The mandate includes country-specific monitoring, i.e. the monitoring of legislation, political strategies and other measure of the member states in their fight against racism, xenophobia, anit-Semitism and intolerance. ECRI also reviews the concrete impact these measures have on the ground. ECRI can make recommendations to the states on initiatives on the local, national and European level as well as general political guidelines. The application of other international law instruments can also be monitored by the Commission.
The mandate further allows country-visits in cooperation with the state concerned. In the framework of these visits ECRI usually also meets with representatives of civil society and NGOs (without the presence of state representatives). After the visit the Commission enters into a confidential dialogue with the state, which has the opportunity to comment the recommendations of ECRI.
The last country-visit in Austria by ECRI took place 16 – 20 March 2009. The report based on this visit as well as Austrian comments thereto have been published beginning of March 2010. At the end of 2012 ECRI published another report on the status of the implementation of its recommendations by Austria.
The next country-visit by ECRI in Austria is foreseen for November 2014.