Vienna, 6 July 2012 – “The bloodshed in Syria must finally come to an end. The international community must present a united front to achieve this. We owe that to the countless victims”, said Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger on the occasion of the adoption of the resolution on Syria in the Human Rights Council. The disastrous state of human rights in Syria was at the centre of the three-week conference of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, set to end today. In the resolution, the Council demands that Syria implement Annan’s 6-step plan and the conclusions reached by the action group in Geneva last weekend immediately. Unfortunately, Russia, China and Cuba once again refused to bring about a consensus.
“At the instigation of the European Union, the Human Rights Council has also unequivocally expressed concerns about the human rights situation in Belarus. I therefore ask Belarus to initiate reforms to improve the human rights situation forthwith and to fully cooperate with the special rapporteur who will be appointed by the UN”, said Spindelegger.
“The human rights situation in Eritrea is deteriorating more and more, a fact that has been ignored by the international community for far too long”, said the Foreign Minister on the resolution on Eritrea that was introduced by several African countries. “I welcome the fact that a special rapporteur has also been appointed for Eritrea who will keep an eye on the human rights situation on behalf of the international community.”
“With the resolution on internally displaced people, Austria has placed a clear emphasis on strengthening the protection ofinternally displaced people outside camps and on bringing about long-term solutions. We are particularly concerned with the protection of internally displaced women and children to protect them from sexual violence, but also to ensure that displaced women are able to effectively participate in decision-making processes, including peace negotiations, and that displaced children have access to education. The resolution is very clear on this”, Spindelegger continued.
“The strong support for the Austrian initiative on the protection of journalists is highly positive. Austria will continue to take decisive measures to anchor this topic on the agenda of the international community”, the Foreign Minister said. A declaration on this topic suggested by Austria and signed by 56 states from all over the world was presented, which emphasised the special role that journalists play in society and the obligation of states to provide a safe environment for journalists to work in. The role of UNESCO is positively mentioned in this context.
Women’s rights were also a core subject of the June session of the Human Rights Council. In addition to the podium discussion on women’s rights that takes place every year, two resolution initiatives on violence and discrimination against women were introduced. Austria’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Ambassador Christian Strohal, moderated a discussion on the participation of women in public and political life. “All these initiatives underline Austria’s indefatigable efforts to promote and protect women’s rights worldwide”, said Spindelegger. “We will continue to force this issue as part of our membership in the Human Rights Council.”
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