Vienna, 19 December 2013 Press release

Kurz: "Outcome of the UN General Assembly provides an important impetus for world-wide protection of human rights"

Vienna, 19 December 2013 – "With its unanimous adoption of the resolution on privacy, the international community of states has provided essential impetus to the protection of fundamental rights both online and offline. Strengthening fundamental rights in the digital age is a matter of great personal concern to me", Austrian Foreign Minister Kurz said in his comment on the consensus reached yesterday by the UN General Assembly on the resolution that had been actively supported by Austria as a co-sponsor.

"I am particularly pleased that in taking up Austria's initiative on the protection of minorities, the General Assembly unanimously adopted another important resolution in the interest of this group that is subject to discrimination", the Foreign Minister continued. The world-wide protection of minorities is a priority of Austria's human rights policy, and Austria has for years supported numerous initiatives in this field, such as the establishment of the Forum on Minority Issues in Geneva. "In times when vulnerable people deserving particular protection find themselves in the centre of many conflicts, it is indispensable that states and the international community follow clear specifications for the protection of these minorities." The Foreign Minister added that the promotion of intercultural and interreligious dialogue that is so actively pursued by Austria plays a vital role in this context.

Other resolutions adopted by the UN General Assembly yesterday refer to North Korea, Iran and Syria where the human rights situations give particular reason for concern. The resolution on North Korea was adopted unanimously, while the resolutions on Syria (127 yes and 13 no votes) and Iran (68 yes, 36 no votes) were adopted with clear majorities. "I urgently appeal to the states to fully cooperate with the human rights mechanism of the United Nations. Progress in improving the human rights situations in the affected countries is urgently needed to alleviate human suffering", Foreign Minister Kurz said.

With its resolution on the safety of journalists, the UN General Assembly once again underlined how important it is to fight impunity of crimes against journalists. "We appreciate the courageous commitment of many journalists who have to hazard great risks in the course of their work. Their contribution for a living democracy is especially essential in countries where the freedom of opinion is under pressure", the Foreign Minister said.

"The UN General Assembly’s adoption of many important resolutions on the world-wide protection of human rights reflects once again the important contributions made by Austria and the European Union on international level", the Foreign Minister concluded.

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