Press Releases

    24 November 2003

      Pivotal Role of Judges in the Protection of Human Rights Discussed at the United Nations

    UN Symposium Calls in a Declaration Upon States to Guarantee the Independence of  the Judiciary

    VIENNA, 24 November (UN Information Service) - "Judges are central players for the prevalence of the rule of law," said the Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Austria, Mrs. Benita Ferrero-Waldner. Mrs. Ferrero-Waldner was opening a high-level international symposium entitled "The role of judges in the promotion and protection of human rights - strengthening interagency cooperation" taking place today at the Vienna International Centre. The symposium is being held on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the United Nations World Conference on Human Rights and its outcome document, the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.

    The Acting High Commissioner on Human Rights, Mr. Bertrand Ramcharan, who chaired the symposium,  reminded that criminal violations are widespread in different parts of the world and tyrants still hold sway over many countries. He also stated that, although there now is nominal universality, in practice the actual realisation of human rights remains illusory for large parts of the world's population.

    Mr. Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime emphasised that crime suppression, including terrorism and organized crime, must not be at the cost of the protection of the human rights of all individuals involved, suspects, victims and innocent third parties.

    The symposium was attended by eminent judges, regional and international inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations.

    The participants agreed upon the text of the "The Vienna Declaration on the Role of Judges in the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms" which will be presented, as a first step, to the General Assembly in New York on the occasion of International Human Rights Day (10 December).

    The declaration includes specific recommendations to States, inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations and also contains a set of actions in connection with post-conflict situations.

    The symposium took place on the invitation of the Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Austria and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, in cooperation with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

    * *** *

    For a copy of the declaration, please contact the Austrian Foreign Ministry, Human Rights Department Tel:  (01) 53115-3256