Vienna, 9 December 2013 Press release

Spindelegger: "Protection of privacy on the Internet poses a human rights challenge"

Vice-Chancellor Spindelegger on the International Human Rights Day

Vienna, 9 December 2013 – "At the World Conference on Human Rights held in Vienna in 1993, the international human rights system made a giant leap forward: all states committed themselves to the universal application of human rights, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights was established. And yet we are faced with daily media reports about shocking human rights violations making it very clear that we must never cease fighting for human rights and that we must not rest on the laurels of what has been achieved. This is why the fight for human rights for all women, men and children worldwide is a fundamental element of Austria's foreign policy and my personal priority issue", Austrian Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said to mark the International Human Rights Day.

By holding the international experts conference "Vienna+20: Advancing the Protection of Human Rights" in Vienna in June of this year, Austria not only put a spotlight on the achievements of the World Conference on Human Rights of 1993, but it also gave a voice to numerous human rights defenders from all over the world and offered them an opportunity to express their concerns. "Austria also works on current human rights challenges, such as excessive data surveillance. We support the absolute applicability of existing human rights standards on the Internet to clearly prevent cross-border mass data spying", Spindelegger continued. In this context, the Vice-Chancellor referred to the resolution of the UN General Assembly on the protection of privacy that was co-sponsored by Austria and to the priority issue of "protection of privacy on the Internet" in the framework of Austria's Chairmanship of the Council of Europe.

"Austria is internationally recognised for its advocacy of freedom of opinion and the press and the safety of journalists. Initiatives and measures are not only taken on UN level and during the current chairmanship of the Council of Europe but also in practice-oriented projects", Spindelegger said and continued: "Austrian Development Cooperation, for example, is financing a Council of Europe training project for journalists in the conflict region of Moldova/Transnistria that focuses on the promotion of objective media reporting. In addition, Austria makes a tangible contribution to the rights and self-determination of women by supporting a UNESCO study on the particular safety requirements of female journalists who are increasingly exposed to violence. Strengthening women's rights is one of the priority issues of our work in the OSCE, by promoting women's rights projects in Central Asia, for example. "

"Without the expertise and the commitment of a pro-active civil society, both in Austria and globally, our fight for human rights would be doomed to fail. This is why I would like to take this opportunity on International Human Rights Day to express my heartfelt gratitude to all the courageous NGOs and human rights defenders", the Vice-Chancellor concluded.

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