The Austrian approach
- A credible human rights policy starts at home. Through its accession to all international human rights treaties Austria has undertaken to ensure the respect, protection and realisation of human rights in Austria. These human rights commitments are also guaranteed by the Federal Constitution and Austrian law. International control mechanisms can verify compliance with human rights in Austria and demand the necessary improvements if required. On the basis of this openness, Austria also conducts dialogue with other states on the respect for and protection of human rights.
- Human rights are taken into account in all areas of Austrian foreign policy. Human rights aspects are integrated in all thematic areas and are addressed in all bilateral contacts and in appropriate multilateral forums.
- Human rights issues that Austria is particularly committed to: the rights of women, protection of children in armed conflicts, minority rights, support of human rights defenders, abolition of the death penalty, combating racism and trafficking in human beings, and human rights education.
- Austria cooperates closely with its partners in the EU and other like-minded states in achieving the aims of its human rights policy. Contacts with civil society are also very important for Austria. Austrian citizens and NGOs draw the attention of the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs to human rights crisis situations and individual cases. The Ministry also supports NGOs active in human rights fields as a means of strengthening civil society.
- The multilateral forum of the United Nations is of particular importance in Austria’s human rights policy. Austria supports the work of the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights and actively fosters worldwide improvements in human rights within the UN Human Rights Council and the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly.
- At the regional level Austria cooperates actively with partners in the European Union, Council of Europe, European Court of Human Rights and the OSCE to ensure continued observance of and improvement in human rights protection in Europe.
- Austrian human rights policy uses a variety of instruments, with a basic focus on a cooperative, constructive and dialogue-based approach. For example, it endeavours to promote the protection of human rights worldwide on a sustainable basis through the exchange of experience and through specific support of human rights defenders and projects in the field of human rights and democratisation. International pressure and public criticism are often necessary, however, to persuade states to improve human rights protection.
- Austria is an emphatic and avowed proponent of the universality of human rights, as confirmed by all states at the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna in 1993. Human dignity and rights are anchored in all states and cultures. Human dignity and the resultant rights and freedoms are an inalienable asset to which every person people in the world is entitled.