Wien, 29. November 2012 Press release

Spindelegger: "Seize every opportunity to put minority rights on the agenda"

Successful conclusion of the Geneva Minority Forum supported by Austria

Vienna, 29 November 2012 – The fifth Minority Forum of the UN Human Rights Council – initiated and co-financed by Austria – came to a successful end yesterday. High-level experts had discussed shortcomings and opportunities for better implementation of minority rights at this year's Forum, which also marked the 20th anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Minorities. "Everywhere in the world, members of minorities are still discriminated against, persecuted and killed. It is the task of the international community to counteract these violations of minority rights with vigour. “I am proud that Austria plays a central role in these efforts”, Spindelegger said and emphasised: “A lasting improvement of the situation of minorities will only be achieved if the UN Declaration on the Rigths of Minorities is effectively and fully implemented.”

On the sidelines of the Minority Forum, Austria together with the Minority Rights Group International organisation organised a public discussion event on promoting the participation of religious minorities in the public and political sphere. The event was chaired by Austria's Permanent Representative at the UNO in Geneva, Ambassador Christian Strohal. “This event is yet another effort of Austria geared at putting the protection of religious minorities on the international agenda. The great interest in this event illustrates how politically charged this matter is. We are going to use our membership in the UN Human Rights Council to make sure that minority protection will continue to enjoy great political importance worldwide”, Spindelegger said.

Also on the sidelines of the Minority Forum, Austria and Slovenia opened two exhibitions on the situation of the Roma in the two countries. The Austrian exhibition was initiated by the Cultural Association of Austrian Roma and organised by Austrian historian Dr. Gerhard Baumgartner. It shows the history of Roma in Austria from the persecution under the National Socialists until today. At the opening of the exhibition in Geneva, the Chairman of the Cultural Association of Austrian Roma, Professor Rudolf Sarközi, praised the positive achievements for Roma in Austria.

At the end of the Forum a number of recommendations on improving the implementation of the UN Declaration of Minority Rights were addressed to both states and the UNO.

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