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Statements and speeches Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Türk welcomes new civil society alliance in Austria

16 February 2024

Delivered by

Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights


Conference for the establishment of a human rights alliance in Austria



Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to address you virtually at this conference.

In June last year, I met with many of you at a meeting we organized during my visit to Austria. I remember that conversation very well: we spoke about the crucial role of civil society in the human rights movement – both around the world and here in Austria.

A nation-wide alliance in Austria dedicated to human rights will be able to make a significant contribution to networking and mobilizing the various civil society groups and academic institutions, thus lending additional weight to the human rights work. I therefore welcome this alliance.

I imagine that it could well empower people to take a stand, make their voices heard –and magnify their leverage.

It could support efforts to uphold human rights and the rule of law – particularly for women, minorities, older persons, persons with disabilities and LGBTIQ+ people.

Ahead of the elections coming this year – not only in Austria, but in more than sixty countries around the world – this alliance has a very important role to play in educating and raising public awareness, as well as putting human rights on the political agenda. Voters should be able to recognize the individual parties’ understanding of human rights. It is important to ensure that people and their rights become central to the political discussions.

I am often shocked by what I hear in public debate – in Austria and elsewhere.

We need to take a stand against narratives that stoke anger, hatred and violence against Jews, Muslims, people of African descent, migrants, refugees and people from ethnic minorities.

We need to stand firm against efforts to marginalize – or scapegoat – anyone.

We must ensure the impartiality and effectiveness of the newly established independent complaint body to deal with police violence. Discrimination must be countered with a comprehensive implementation of the equality principle. We need additional measures to address hate crimes and violence against women, including in public administration and in politics.

The new alliance brings together numerous social initiatives, across themes and dividing lines, building a common force against existing injustice and overcoming social division – with the aim of preserving and realizing human dignity, equality and social justice, protecting and promoting all human rights, including the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.

I invite you to work with all United Nations human rights bodies, including my Office.

I wish you every success and I hope that we can work closely together, particularly in this year marked by so many social and geopolitical tensions.

Thank you.