Wien, 1. December 2011 Press release

Spindelegger: “Austrian profile in UN Human Rights Council was raised significantly”

Success for the Forum on Minority Issues in Geneva that was co-financed by Austria

Vienna, 1 December 2011 – The fourth session of the Forum on Minority Issues of the UN Human Rights Council was concluded yesterday. The Forum that was initiated and co-financed by Austria takes place every year; this year it focused mainly on “women and minorities”, and in particular on their participation in political and social life, the important role of education for female members of minorities, and on violence against women who are members of minorities. “The risk of falling victim to violence is often particularly high for women who are members of a minority. It is our task to draw attention to this fact at both national and international level and to stand up against this form of violence”, Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said.

Another topic on the agenda was the 20th anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Protection of Minorities that will be celebrated next year. Spindelegger considers the anniversary to be a great opportunity for increasing international awareness of the protection of minorities’ issues. “Austria is certainly to make a pro-active contribution. Special attention needs to be paid to the global protection of religious minorities.”

The Forum on Minority Issues was attended by 500 people, among them many women who are directly involved in this field. The Austrian support of the Forum was especially important as it made possible the participation of female members of minorities from developing countries. “This is an important contribution of Austria to the multilateral system, and it underlines our dedication to the protection of minorities in the Human Rights Council”, Spindelegger said. As an outcome of the meeting, various recommendations were made to states and the United Nations illustrating how the situation of these women at risk could be improved.

The protection of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities is one of the focal activities of Austria in the UN Human Rights Council. The Forum on Minority Issues was initiated by Austria in 2007 and is an essential element of Austria’s work programme in this field. The first three meetings were focused on education, political empowerment and better integration of minorities in business life.

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