Statement | 27-06-2013
Austria Extraterritorial Obligations Justiciability Monitoring and Accountability

Civil Society Reclaims Primacy of Human Rights

Vienna/Heidelberg, 27 June 2013 –FIAN International welcomes the Declaration adopted yesterday by the Vienna+20 civil society conference which calls upon States to make the primacy of human rights operational.

Participants at Vienna+20 Conference (c) Vienna+20 Media Team

25 years after the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights, the time will have come for a Third World Conference on Human Rights in 2018 with full participation of the civil society addressing issues of worldwide concern.

More than 140 persons from various CSOs around the world gathered at Vienna on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Second World Conference on Human Rights and its Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action issued on June 25, 1993.

The Vienna+20 CSO Declaration stresses the primacy of human rights. Respect, protection and fulfilment of all human rights are the first responsibilities of states. Despite progress made in human rights protection, vested interests, in particular corporate interests, tend to prevail, even in multilateral fora and agreements. Especially economic, social and cultural rights still lack adequate forms of legal sanctions as compared to other legal regimes such as international commercial law.

Rolf Künnemann, human rights director at FIAN International and panelist at the CSO conference, explains: "We are witnessing the erosion of the many human rights policy achievements that have been made over the past 20 years.  This conference evaluated and addressed the many gaps in human rights protection that have become more severe in the context of globalization. The acceptance and implementation of States' extraterritorial obligations will play a key role in regulating globalization".

The CSO Conference expressed deep concern over the increasing criminalization of, and assaults upon human rights defenders - including refugees and migrants - and the increasing exploitation of women in the context of global capitalism. The realization of women's rights and gender equality, along with the right to live free from discrimination, lay a key foundation for the whole of human rights.

The Vienna+20 CSO Declaration demands accountability and binding regulation of transnational corporations and intergovernmental organizations and reminds States of their human rights obligations in the context of international cooperation and assistance. It also calls for the establishment of a World Court of Human Rights, which, acting in complementarity with existing universal and regional mechanisms, will allow for rights holders to have access to an independent international judicial body to seek remedies and reparations for violations of human rights guaranteed in the principal universal human rights treaties.

The demands made in the Vienna+20 CSO Declaration will be followed up by the various CSOs involved in the Conference. The results of monitoring the implementation of the recommendations and requests made in this Declaration will serve as an input to the Third World Conference envisaged in five years from now.

More information:

Read the full Vienna+20 CSO Declaration.

Read more about the Vienna+20 CSO Conference

Watch the video from the panel discussion on "The Way Forward"

Contact: media(at) or Rolf Künnemann