Vienna, 19 November 2009 – “Children are the most vulnerable members of our society. Therefore, they have to be protected from violence and exploitation. Since its adoption 20 years ago the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child has made an essential contribution to the global improvement of children’s rights. It is the guide to a more child-friendly world – a goal we pursue with great spirit and dedication. The Convention provided important stimuli for Austria as well – such as the agreement to enshrine children’s rights in our constitution,” stated Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger to mark tomorrow’s 20th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
“Yet there is still a lot that remains to be done: Millions of children throughout the world suffer from violence, abuse and exploitation, are threatened by poverty and starvation or have no access to health and education. The rights of the child are universal and must be respected. Global commitment to unconditional adherence to these rights is and remains an important pillar of Austria’s foreign policy,” affirmed Spindelegger. In these efforts, Austria demonstrated its commitment in a multitude of different ways: Through bilateral contacts, and within the EU, the Council of Europe and the United Nations.
Austria is making targeted use of its membership of the UN Security Council to strengthen the rights of the child at the international level. “This summer Austria supported the adoption of a resolution aimed at putting parties in armed conflicts on a ‘black list’ of the UN Secretary-General if they recruit, sexually abuse, mutilate or kill children. This will increase the pressure on conflicting parties to put a halt to assaults on children. Resolution 1894, adopted by the Security Council under my chair, also provides for concrete measures aimed at a better protection of children by UN missions in armed conflicts,” the Foreign Minister went on.
Austria also supports children and their rights in its development cooperation programmes. The three-year programme of the Austrian Development Cooperation explicitly states that the needs and rights of children have to be taken into account in all activities. “We must give children and adolescents the opportunity to grow up in a peaceful society,” stated Spindelegger. Numerous projects are devoted to the protection and promotion of children’s rights, or integrate children as actors. Practical projects deal, for instance, with the fight against trafficking in girls in south-eastern Europe or the employment of young people in Rwanda.
The Task Force to Combat Human Trafficking, headed by the Foreign Ministry, is instrumental in providing protection and support for women and children who become victims of human trafficking.
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