Vienna, 9 December 2005 Press release

Plassnik: “Protection of human rights is a timeless task”


The subject of human rights will be a major concern during Austria’s forthcoming Council Presidency

Vienna, 9 December 2005 - On the occasion of the International Human Rights Day Foreign Minister Plassnik stressed the importance of human rights, the rule of law and democracy for safeguarding security and development in the world. "The protection of human rights is a core aim of the European Union’s foreign policy and a focus in Austria’s forthcoming Council Presidency," said Plassnik.

Together with its EU partners, Austria will therefore actively support the worldwide respect of human rights and the strengthening of measures to protect them. The EU and international organisations such as the OSCE, Council of Europe and United Nations will play a vital role in this respect. Austria intends to take specific measures to support threatened human rights defenders, to protect children in conflict zones and to bring about the worldwide abolition of the death penalty. The observance of an absolute ban on torture is a further concern. With a view to strengthening the EU’s human rights activities, Austria will endeavour to make it possible for the EU Human Rights Agency in Vienna to become operational by January 2007. The Agency will continue the work of the European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) and provide important human rights expertise to EU institutions and Member States through the drafting of expert opinions and analyses.

The Austrian Presidency will also promote the assertion of women’s rights. "Women who assert their rights also make a decisive contribution to the development of the societies in which they live," said the Foreign Minister. For that reason, Austria was also a supporter in the EU, OSCE and UN of the participation by women in peace negotiations and the routine inclusion of women’s concerns in peace missions.

During the Austrian Council Presidency Plassnik expects decisive developments in the United Nations human rights system. The new Council on Human Rights created by decision of the UN Summit in September was scheduled to start operation in 2006. "The EU will support a new human rights council that can act quickly and effectively in the case of acute human rights violations," confirmed Plassnik.

The inviolability of human dignity was a fundamental principle of the European unification project, recalled the Foreign Minister. Human rights and an absolute ban on torture should therefore be insisted upon as part of the fight against terrorism as well. "Every person, without restriction or exception, should be protected against torture and abuse" said Plassnik, adding that Austria would also stand up for this principle during its EU Presidency.

Contact for further enquiries:
Ministry for Foreign Affairs
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