Wien, 9. December 2011 Press release

Spindelegger: “2011 is a significant year in the struggle for freedom and the respect for human rights”

Vice Chancellor on the International Human Rights Day

Vienna, 9 December 2011 – “Our full commitment is needed when it comes to protecting people against violations of their rights and fundamental freedoms.We must create the conditions that will rule out the emergence of oppression, despotism, and exploitation“, said Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger on the occasion of the International Human Rights Day on December 10.“The Arab Spring has impressively demonstrated that all humans strive for freedom and the recognition of their fundamental and inalienable rights.For all those who dedicated their lives to the fight for freedom, human rights, and a life in dignity, the year 2011 will be one of outstanding importance.“

For Austria, the protection and the enforcement of human rights represent a core foreign policy issue.In May this year, the UN General Assembly elected Austria as a member of the Human Rights Council, the most important human rights body of the United Nations.“As a member of the Human Rights Council, we shall continue our efforts in the future with determination and with targeted thematic priorities.One of these will include guaranteeing the unhindered access to all human rights for people with disabilities“, said the Foreign Minister.Apart from the protection of ethnic, religious, and linguistic minorities, the priorities of the Austrian membership in the UN Human Rights Council feature the protection of journalists and children’s rights.

“We are deeply concerned about the rising violence against religious minorities worldwide.Therefore, we are intensifying our efforts on an international level towards achieving an effective comprehensive protection of minorities and the right to religious freedom“, said the Vice Chancellor.

“We are all aware of the important role played by brave journalists and reporters during the democracy movements that took place in recent months.Several of them sacrificed their lives for the struggle.Thus, this reinforces our decision to have chosen the protection of journalists as one of the priorities of our membership in the Human Rights Council“, explained the Vice Chancellor.“The Austrian initiative for the protection of journalists was launched in Vienna on 23 November with a high-level international meeting of experts on this topic.Our objective is the adoption of a substantial resolution that places the protection of journalists firmly on the international agenda“, Spindelegger concluded.

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