“We are proud to be the office site of the UN and to have made our contribution to peacekeeping missions for six decades,” emphasised Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg on the occasion of the 65th anniversary of Austria’s UN membership. “The State Treaty and neutrality brought freedom to our country. Admission to the UN sealed Austria’s long-awaited reintegration into the international community.”
Since 1960, more than 100,000 Austrian soldiers and civilian aid workers have participated in over 100 international peacekeeping and humanitarian missions. Today, Austrians are also continuing to make their contribution to peace in UN missions in Lebanon, Mali, Cyprus, Western Sahara and the Middle East.
We are coming to the end of a very challenging year. Never before in recent history has a catastrophe hit all of us in the world in equal measure. COVID-19 is doing this. And we will have to deal with the consequences of this pandemic for a long time to come,
explained Schallenberg. “This global challenge has reminded us how indispensable a global organisation like the UN is. If the United Nations did not exist, we would have to invent it – if only out of self-interest. The UN remains the heart of effective multilateralism.”
Austria will also continue to campaign for effective international cooperation:
The crisis has shown that no state alone can defeat the virus – or any of the coming global challenges such as climate change. We can only do this together. As United Nations,
said Alexander Schallenberg.
Austria remains a bridge builder, one of the most important places for dialogue, a host of international conferences and high-level negotiations. “In Vienna, international law was codified and the fundamental principles of universality and indivisibility of human rights were reaffirmed.” Despite difficulties with its implementation, the JCPOA concluded in Vienna has historical significance. Austria’s commitment to the protection and promotion of human rights found a particular pinnacle in the lasting success of the UN Human Rights Conference in 1993 in Vienna. Austria is currently involved as a member of the UN Human Rights Council for the second time and is providing its President in 2020.
Austria has served three times as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council and is ready to assume this special responsibility once again.
Former UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim heads an impressive list of Austrians in the service of the global community.
On the 65th anniversary of joining the UN in 2020, a year marked by COVID-19, the words of Leopold Figl in Austria’s first speech to the UN General Assembly are still of relevance: The world looks to the community of nations in which it places all its hopes. –
Austria will continue to make an active contribution to ensure these hopes become a piece of global reality in the future,
concluded Foreign Minister Schallenberg.
Austria is also making a strong case for disarmament and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction as indispensable cornerstones of the international security system. The entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons on 21 January 2021, which Austria helped to initiate, is an important step towards hopefully averting the existential threat of nuclear weapons in the future.
At the same time, humanity is increasingly exposed to the dangers of autonomous weapons systems. Here Austria will be quick and decisive in taking the initiative to embrace digital humanism, said Foreign Minister Schallenberg:
The decision on the survival of civilians in conflict zones must not be left to killer robots without human control or ethical concerns. I will therefore be inviting people to an international conference on the topic in 2021 – if COVID-19 allows it.