New York, 23 September 2004 Press release

Ferrero-Waldner prior to the UN General Assembly: "Jointly fighting terrorism"


Foreign Minister simultaneously calls for priority to be given to international law

New York, 23 September 2004 - "With the emergence of new and complex threats - in particular terrorism in combination with the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction - the international community faces unprecedented challenges for which it has to find legitimate responses. Based on our conviction that only concerted action can overcome this kind of challenge, Austria has committed herself to full cooperation with other States and UN bodies", stated Minister for Foreign Affairs Benita Ferrero-Waldner in New York. In her sixth address before the UN General Assembly - and most probably her last as Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs - Ferrero-Waldner emphasised that "effective multilateralism" is the only method of coping with these new threats. For this reason it is imperative that joint action is taken on the basis of the UN Charter as soon as peace and security are jeopardised. In this context the Foreign Minister especially highlighted the importance of conflict prevention and crisis management.

Besides underlining the necessity of combating those factors that provide a breeding ground for terrorism - such as poverty, injustice and discrimination - Ferrero-Waldner supported the opinion expressed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan that international law represents the best basis for the resolution of lasting conflicts: "It is in the interest of smaller and medium-sized states like Austria in particular that international law be accorded priority in international relations. Austria will therefore be convening a discussion forum to address these issues within the framework of the United Nations' International Law Week."

"The United Nations has been at the centre of Austrian foreign policy since Austria joined the UN in 1955", Ferrero-Waldner continued. "This year we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the 'Vienna International Center', which is home to many UN institutions. Austria feels honoured and privileged to host one of the UN’s headquarters", the Foreign Minister said.

As a token of the country's pro-active and sincere commitment to the United Nations, Austria is standing as a candidate for a non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council for the period 2009/2010. "Our candidature, which we announced over five years ago back in February 1999, results from our willingness to contribute actively and constructively to the maintenance of international peace and security. We fully recognise the heavy responsibility which Security Council membership entails. We are ready to assume it", Ferrero-Waldner assured the General Assembly, reminding her audience that Austria is among the largest providers of troops for UN peacekeeping operations. "Since 1963, over 50,000 Austrians have served more than 50 UN missions worldwide."

Like many other states, Austria is concerned at the growing discrepancy between the current composition of the Security Council on the one hand and the constantly changing social, political and economic realities within the international community on the other. "The UN Secretary-General himself has established a high-level panel of eminent persons with the issue of UN reform, including reform of the Security Council. Concrete reform proposals will be available at the end of this year, and I am looking forward to these with interest. My personal vision - and I already said this here last year too - is that in the long term the European Union will also be represented with a seat and a vote in the Security Council", Ferrero-Waldner pointed out, adding that this would be the logical consequence of European integration in the field of foreign and security policy.