Vienna, 1 October 2009 Press release

Spindelegger on 60 years of Geneva Conventions: "Put clear legal limits on violence in war"

Vienna, 1 October 2009 - "The Geneva Conventions of 1949 remain a pillar of humanitarian international law and a milestone for the observance of essential protection standards in armed conflicts", said Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger in connection with the conference organized by the Austrian Red Cross together with the Swiss and Austrian foreign ministries, marking the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Geneva Red Cross Conventions and the 150th anniversary of the battle of Solferino. The Geneva Conventions protect those people who are not or no longer participating in armed conflicts - civilians and people taken prisoners in armed conflicts: „One of the main achievements of the Geneva Conventions is that they put legal limits on violence in war“, said Spindelegger.

The aim of the conference, titled „More punch for humanitarian international law“, is to further advance the thinking process toward a more effective implementation of international legal standards for the protection of the civilian population: „In times when warlords and ruthless armed forces are spreading terror, suffering, and death among uninvolved civilians in many parts of the world, it does no longer suffice to implore the application of humanitarian international law and human rights. All available instruments, including action by the Security Council must be put to the service of compliance with these humanitarian basic rules. During our presidency of the UN Security Council in November, we want to make an Austrian contribution to better protection of the civilian population in armed conflicts with a resolution“, said the Foreign Minister.

He also cited cooperation between governments and the civil society as an important aspect in connection with this. In this context, Foreign Minister Spindelegger thanked the Austrian, Swiss, and International Red Cross under Presidents Fredy Mayer, Marco de Stoppani, and Jakob Kellenberger and the countless helpers and supporters for their tireless commitment: „The Red Cross movement is an outstanding symbol of humanity and active solidarity“, the Foreign Minister concluded.

Federal Ministry for
European and international Affairs
Press Department
Tel.: ++43 (0) 50 1150-3262, 4549, 4550
Fax: ++43 (0) 50 1159-213