Wien, 20. November 2013 Press release

Spindelegger: "An important signal for minorities worldwide"

UN General Assembly adopts Austrian resolution initiative by consensus

Vienna, 20 November 2013 – The Austrian initiative on global protection of minorities was adopted by consensus by the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly in New York on 19 November. A total of 68 states joined Austria in introducing the draft resolution. "The large number of countries supporting the initiative illustrates that global protection of minorities will only be possible by joining forces on an international level", Foreign Minister Spindelegger said.

Special focus was given to the effective implementation of the UN Declaration on the Protection of Minorities that includes clear specifications for states to improve the situation of minorities. Unambiguous references for strengthened implementation of this important document have been laid down in the resolution. "In times of growing discrimination and repression towards minorities, the effective implementation of this important UN text is another vital signal for all minorities worldwide", Spindelegger said.

Besides these references, sections on the important role of the Independent Expert on Minority Issues and the role of intercultural and interreligious dialogue – that is not to be underestimated in this context – have been included in the resolution. “Dialogue between and with all parties is indispensable to guarantee the protection of minorities. This holds particularly true with regard to the situation of religious minorities, above all in the Middle East. I am pleased that Austria is so pro-actively contributing to efforts in this respect”, the Foreign Minister said and added that he welcomed the fact that multiple, aggravating and intersectoral forms of discrimination are mentioned for the first time in the resolution text. “Many women and children who belong to minorities are exposed to multiple discrimination on a daily basis. It is our task to point a finger at this, both on national and international level and to counter this development”, the Foreign Minister said.

Enforcement and protection of human rights are core concerns of Austria's foreign policy. The protection of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities in particular is a focal issue of Austria's human rights commitment and one of the priority areas on the Austrian agenda during its membership in the UN Human Rights Council. "We will continue to push this highly successful initiative further ahead. The worldwide protection of religious minorities deserves special attention also in future", Spindelegger concluded.

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