Vienna, 24 November 2003 Press release

Ferrero-Waldner opens symposium to mark the 10th anniversary of the UN World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna


Vienna, 24 November 2003 - Today an international symposium on the topic of "The role of judges in promoting and protecting human rights - strengthening interagency cooperation" is being held at the Vienna International Center to mark the 10th anniversary of the UN World Conference on Human Rights that took place in Vienna in 1993. Minister for Foreign Affairs Benita Ferrero-Waldner and the acting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Bertrand Ramcharan jointly opened the symposium today.

The symposium focuses on the role of the judiciary, which plays a crucial part in promoting and protecting human rights in the individual states. The more difficult the human rights situation in a country, the more difficult is usually also the situation of judges. "For human rights the judges' role is essential. However, the long-term effects of judges‘ activity, which is so important for human rights, are unfortunately often underestimated", said the Minister for Foreign Affairs. The international community should therefore pay increased attention to the indispensable support needed by the judges to protect their independence, develop their professional skills and exchange their experiences.

The symposium emphasises practical aspects and will deal with the work of judges at both the national and regional level. Invitations were extended to representatives of government organisations and NGOs, as well as to renowned judges and experts.

The main objective of the symposium is to find better ways for all international actors within and outside the UN system to support the individual countries in their efforts to strengthen the role of judges in the promotion and protection of human rights.