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Human Rights


Austria will continue the EU’s efforts to protect and reinforce human rights and fundamental liberties. A central issue in this regard is improved integration of human rights issues into all areas of EU foreign policy. The human rights dialogues and consultations with China, Iran and Russia, and the implementation of Council decisions focusing on human rights issues are particularly important. Austria will place greater emphasis on the protection of women and children, particularly in conflict situations.

At the same time, Austria aims to strengthen the coherence and consistency of EU human rights policy, within and beyond the borders of the EU. The creation of the European Fundamental Rights Agency in Vienna is therefore a priority objective of the Austrian Presidency.

Human rights in EU foreign policy

The protection and promotion of human rights is an explicit aim of EU foreign policy. Human rights issues therefore have a permanent place in the political dialogue with non-member countries, particularly those which have bilateral relations with the EU on the basis of cooperation and association agreements. Human rights aspects, in particular the protection of women and children, are also important in the context of the growing number of EU civil and military operations. 

The EU actively supports the worldwide abolition of the death penalty and is taking special measures to combat torture throughout the world. Another priority of EU human rights policy is the protection of advocates of human rights and of children in armed conflicts. Austria wants to drive forward the implementation of the Council guidelines (http://ue.eu.int/cms3_fo/showPage.asp?id=822⟨=en) on these issues.

In implementing these Council decisions, Austria will among other things urge non-member countries to abolish the death penalty and accede to the UN Convention against Torture. Furthermore, Austria will take tailor-made initiatives where appropriate on behalf of the EU, for example to protect human rights advocates who are in danger, in particular women, or to prevent imminent executions. In armed conflicts, Austria wishes to reinforce EU-UN cooperation in conflict countries to protect and support children. Austria will also work to ensure that personnel staffing EU missions in crisis situations receive more training in issues relating to children's rights.

In implementing Resolution 1325 (2000) of the UN Security Council, Austria will also support enhanced measures in the context of ESDP operations to protect women and children in conflicts and to give women a greater say in the resolution of conflicts and reconstruction.

UN reform: greater clout to protect human rights

Austria as Presidency actively supports making more effective use of multilateral bodies, especially the United Nations, to protect human rights. The priority in that regard is rapid implementation of the agreement by the "2005 World Summit" on establishing a Human Rights Council in place of the existing UN Human Rights Commission. Austria and its EU partners will work to make the Human Rights Council a powerful body for the protection of human rights worldwide, and try to ensure it can start work in the first half of 2006.

European Fundamental Rights Agency

Human rights issues are important in a growing number of areas of EU activity, even within the EU Member States. On 13 December 2003, the European Council decided to set up a European Human Rights Agency. The mandate of the Vienna-based European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia will be expanded to this end. Austria is hoping for a speedy conclusion to ongoing negotiations regarding the establishment of the Agency, which is due to start work on 1 January 2007.

The Agency’s main task is to provide expert analyses and reports to support the EU institutions in political and legal decisions relevant to human rights, and thereby make a fundamental contribution to improving the coherence and consistency of EU human rights policy both within and outside the EU.

 

Date: 17.12.2005