Waldner: “Our membership in the Human Rights Council entails responsibility for protecting human rights world-wide”
State Secretary Waldner holds the first speech of an Austrian representative at the UN Human Rights Council
Vienna, 19 September 2011 – With a keynote address in the framework of Austria’s first membership in the UN Human Rights Council, State Secretary Wolfgang Waldner will today present the focus of work for the next three years. “The Human Rights council plays a vital role in the world-wide protection of human rights. The Council took swift action in the case of serious violations of human rights both in Libya and Syria and maintained a clear position: The international community of states does not stand by and watch while serious violations of human rights are committed”, says Waldner. In both cases, an investigation committee was established with the aim of investigating the violations and preparing concrete proposals for their settlement.
The State Secretary on Austria’s work focus in the Human Rights Council: “We are going to advocate above all the protection of religious minorities, the protection of journalists and children’s rights. In these areas there is need to catch up. The civil society is a vital partner in the work to be done on the Austrian priorities.”
The membership in the Human Rights Council is an important step for Austria according to Waldner who stresses that “we are very much aware of our responsibility, in particular vis-à-vis victims of violations”. Austria can look back to long and successful commitment within the United Nations. The World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna in 1993 contributed a great share to strengthening the international protection of human rights. One important outcome of the conference was the establishment of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The State Secretary also emphasises Austria’s endeavours to promote concrete measures in the fight against racism at UN level and lists as another matter of particular concern the termination of impunity. “Those who are responsible for serious violations of human rights must be brought before a court. Victims and their families are entitled to appropriate compensation”, Waldner says.
In the framework of his visit, State Secretary Waldner will meet top representatives of the High Commission for Human Rights and of humanitarian organisations domiciled in Geneva. In the afternoon, Waldner and the Chairman of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child will open an exhibition on the situation of children whose parents are in prison. The exhibition has been organised in cooperation with a group of international children’s rights NGOs.
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