Vienna, 16 November 2011 – The Austrian initiative for the worldwide protection of minorities was adopted in consensus by the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly in New York on 15 November. A total of 69 states accepted the proposals in the draft resolution presented by Austria. The Austrians were especially pleased by the continuing growth of support from African countries. "This shows clearly that we will only be able to ensure the worldwide protection of minorities by means of joint international efforts", Austrian Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said.
A special focus in this effort is the upcoming 20th anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Protection of Minorities next year. "This anniversary provides us with the opportunity to make our contribution to a worldwide environment of tolerance and openness more widely heard. For this reason we will participate actively in events within the scope of this anniversary, both at national and international level", Spindelegger said. In addition to references on the important role played by the Independent Expert on minority issues in the implementation of the UN Declaration, the text includes a call to all states to integrate the demand for the promotion and protection of minorities in strategies for conflict prevention. Furthermore the acceptance of this declaration text has opened up the opportunity for annual reporting to the UN General Assembly by the Independent Expert. "This underlines Austria’s support for independent United Nations human rights mechanisms", the Vice Chancellor said.
The implementation and the protection of human rights are fundamental principles of Austrian foreign policy. The protection of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities in particular is a key focus in Austrian human rights work and is also a priority in the Austrian work programme during the Austrian membership in the UN Human Rights Council. “We intend to consistently advance this successful initiative. Special attention must be paid to the protection of religious minorities worldwide" Spindelegger concluded.
Contact: Federal Ministry for European and international AffairsPress Department Tel.: ++43 (0) 50 1150-3262, 4549, 4550Fax: ++43 (0) 50 1159-213 mailto:abti3(at)bmeia.gv.at