Geneva, 25 February 2013 Press release

Lopatka: "Carry on from the outcome of the World Conference on Human Rights 1993"

State Secretary calls for more commitment in the fight against impunity

Geneva, 25 February 2013 – "The World Conference on Human Rights held in Vienna in 1993 set the standards for improving the protection of human rights world-wide. According to the High Commissioner, the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action marked the most important progress in terms of human rights in the past 25 years. We need to carry on from the outcome of this conference", State Secretary Reinhold Lopatka said at the opening of the March session of the Human Rights Council.

The World Conference on Human Rights laid down the universality and indivisibility of human rights. It established the principle of human rights being of international dimensions and not internal affairs. "It is important to recall this principle, as there are still countries that call any discussion about human rights an interference in their internal affairs. An important impetus for the strengthening of women's rights also emanated from Vienna, and the conference paved the way for the establishment of the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights that is now active in 58 countries", Lopatka said.

On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Human Rights Conference in Vienna, a high-level expert conference will be held in Vienna in June, which will also be attended by High Commissioner Pillay. "Besides taking stock of the implementation of the Vienna Declaration it is also about developing the protection of human rights further. Progress has been made in the documentation, investigation and information provision about violations of human rights over the past few years, but much still remains to be done in the context of impunity. We have to make sure that those infringing human rights are held accountable for their deeds", Austria's State Secretary said.

Many of the high-level speakers at the Human Rights Council session referred to the situation in Syria and Mali. "We welcome the fact that the International Criminal Court instigated investigations of the situation in Mali and support the High Commissioner's demand that the UN Security Council should refer the situation in Syria to the Criminal Court. There needs to be comprehensive investigation of the alleged human rights violations in Mali and the monitoring of the human rights situation in the country, which has already been taken up, needs to be extended", Lopatka said in his statement.

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