Celebrating Human Rights in Vienna: our rights – our future

The United Nations family joined celebrations in Vienna to mark the 30th anniversary of the World Conference on Human Rights and the 75th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Many visitors came to see us at the open-air Human Rights fair at MuseumsQuartier (MQ) to learn more about human rights and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as the work of international organizations in advancing them.  

VIENNA, 5-6 June 2023 – For two days in June, the United Nations family and other international organizations in Vienna joined the Austrian Foreign Ministry and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights at MQ Vienna for a special occasion. Celebrating two anniversaries at once – the 30th anniversary of the Vienna World Conference on Human Rights and the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) – staff from more than 13 different Vienna-based UN entities and other international organizations engaged with tourists, shoppers and interested locals at their information stalls in MQ. A variety of activities and exhibits gave visitors a good overview of different aspects of human rights work in the United Nations.


The stalls were received with interest and enthusiasm by young and old alike, from schoolteachers and their pupils to museum visitors, journalists and many others. Activities included an SDG ‘wheel of fortune’, photo booths where people took selfies to show their personal commitment to human rights, and customized button-making; each an opportunity to learn and to take home special souvenirs. Visitors got to know, among many other topics, the connection between human rights and the SDGs, how crime and human trafficking can be tackled effectively, and how the peaceful use of nuclear technology is linked to human rights. Quizzes at various stalls also gave visitors a chance to test their knowledge of human rights and win fun prizes.


Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk, Director-General of the UN Office at Vienna (UNOV) Ghada Waly, Vice-Mayor of Vienna Christoph Wiederkehr and other esteemed guests visited the information stands on 6 June and spoke to staff and visitors. At the Symposium “Vienna World Conference – 30 Years On: Our Rights – Our Future” at the Libelle terrace on the rooftop of the Leopold Museum at MQ Vienna, UN Human Rights High Commissioner Volker Türk shared his personal connection to the Universal Declaration: “I myself found very deep inspiration in the text of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and I remember very well, I was 15 years old when I got the text at school”, echoing what the exhibits sought to inspire. The symposium was live-streamed onto a large screen in the MQ courtyard for the benefit of the visitors. The two days of celebration was brought to a close later in the evening with the artistic video projection "Human Rights through the Eyes of Diversity" by Austrian artist Michael Balgavy onto the facade of the Leopold Museum.


On Monday, 5 June, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders Mary Lawlor and the Austrian Foreign Ministry hosted a conference at Vienna International Centre to mark the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. Around 40 youth human rights defenders met to discuss and address themes such as climate change, bullying, and LGBTIQ+ issues. Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen and UNOV Director-General Waly welcomed the young activists from across the globe and recognized the important work they do to advance human rights.