AUSTRIA - Candidate to the UN Human Rights Council for the term 2019-2021



Human rights are a key factor for shaping our common future. The Human Rights Council plays an essential role as the world’s leading international forum for the discussion of the most urging, sensitive and challenging issues and for fostering progress in the field of human rights.

Based on our tradition of promoting dialogue and understanding across cultural, ethnic, ideological and religious divides, Austria’s international human rights policy is guided by a spirit of cooperation, equality and mutual respect. We believe that broad-based partnerships are crucial for turning into reality for all people around the globe the visions set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.

Austria has a long-standing record of active engagement at the United Nations and other international bodies for the promotion and protection of human rights. Also at home, Austria is constantly striving to further improve the enjoyment of human rights.

In today’s world, Austria’s proven ability to build bridges across divides of all kinds and to help find common ground among stakeholders with divergent interests is an important asset.

I am therefore convinced that my country, if elected to the Human Rights Council for the period 2019-2021, can make a substantial contribution to promoting and protecting human rights for the benefit of everybody.

It is in this spirit that I seek your valuable support.

Sebastian Kurz
Federal Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs


2019-2021 and beyond: Austria’s vision for the Human Rights Council

Building bridges to strengthen the Human Rights Council:

Austria will build on its long standing record as a facilitator of international dialogue and cooperation but also as a determined protagonist in developing and strengthening the international human rights protection regime in the UN framework and other international fora.

If elected as a member of the Human Rights Council for the period 2019-2021, Austria will use its experience to promote cooperation in an open-minded and transparent way across all regions and involving all stakeholders. We will look for ways to build bridges across the divides which currently shape the deliberations of the Council too often and will make every effort to contribute to a “team spirit” of shared ownership and joint responsibility among all members of the Council. We believe that such a spirit is a key element in finding consensus on ways to optimize the working methods of this body and thereby enhance its effectiveness.


The key role of OHCHR, the treaty bodies and civil society:

Austria takes pride in the fact that the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action were the basis for the establishment of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Austria reaffirms its commitment to support an independent, sufficiently funded and efficient OHCHR as well as the important work of Special Rapporteurs, other special procedures and the human rights treaty body system. We also believe that the increased involvement of civil society in the work of national as well as international human rights bodies has greatly enhanced the relevance of these fora.


Human rights and the Sustainable Development Goals:

Austria attaches utmost importance to the pursuit and implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on all levels. In its comprehensive three year program for international development policy, the Austrian Development Agency illustrates the fundamental outlines for its active engagement in the effort to realize the SDGs. The principles, goals and priorities identified in this document are fully aligned with the commitments of the international community expressed in the SDGs. The Austrian development cooperation policy is clearly committed to a human-rights based approach to development cooperation. It is an overarching principle to be applied in international programs and projects as well as in the policy dialogue. Particular priorities include humanitarian aid, education, the building of just, peaceful and inclusive societies, as well as migration, gender equality and the rights of the child.


 Pledges and commitments

As a member of the Human Rights Council we will be committed and pledge inter alia to

  • advance the role of a constructive, substantive and inclusive Human Rights Council
  • promote the safety of journalists and media freedom at a global level
  • pursue our active engagement in the area of women’s rights and gender equality
  •  promote and protect the rights of the child
  • promote interreligious dialogue and the protection of minorities at a global level
  • review Austria’s reservations to international human rights conventions and in particular withdraw Austria’s reservation to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment 
  • prepare ratification of the Additional Protocol to the Convention on Cybercrime of the Council of Europe
  • prepare ratification of additional obligations laid down in the revised European Social Charter