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Click to access all reports in the Austria Universal Periodic Review.

Universal Periodic Review - Austria
Only contributions submitted in one of the United Nations official languages are admissible and posted on this webpage
Date of consideration: Wednesday, 26 January 2011, 2:30 pm - 5:30 pm

Flag of Austria

Main Country Page: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/ENACARegion/Pages/ATIndex.aspx

Archive Inter-active Dialogue: http://www.un.org/webcast/unhrc/archive.asp?go=110126

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process launched by the UN Human Rights Council in 2008 to review the human rights obligations and responsibilities of UN Member States by 2011. The UN Human Rights Council has recommend a second cycle starting in 2013. UPR Process and News:



Freedom of religion

99. In Austria, the state’s legal position vis-à-vis religion is based on two core principles: freedom of religion and belief and the constitutional guarantee for religious communities to act as corporate entities in public.

100. The Basic Law on the General Rights of Nationals of 1867 (StGG)84 provides for freedom of faith and conscience and, in conjunction with the 1868 Interdenominational Act85, lets individuals freely choose his/her affiliation to a church/religious community, to discontinue religious membership or to have no religious affiliation at all. The StGG also defines the corporate status of legally recognized churches and religious communities. They have a public-law status, regulate and administer their internal affairs independently and have the exclusive right to their name, their religious doctrine and to the exclusive care for their members.

101. The right of non-recognized religious communities to publicly exercise their religion was first enshrined in the 1919 Treaty of Saint Germain Act86. The individual right of freedom of religion, conscience and thought was reinforced by the ECHR. In 1998, the Federal Act on the Legal Status of Registered Religious Communities87 introduced new regulations on the procedures to legally recognize religious communities. The constitution provides that Austria takes a neutral approach towards religion, the state’s tasks and objectives follow a purely secular orientation.

102. Austria actively supports efforts on the regional and international level to protect freedom of religion and religious minorities worldwide.

The Report of the Working Group Conclusions and Recommendations by UN Member States has 97 formulated during the inter-active dialogue that enjoy the support of Austria, 54 recommendations that will be examined by Austria and responded to later, and 10 recommendations that do not enjoy the support of Austria. Very few of the recommendations have anything to do with human rights and freedom of religion or belief.  To get an up-to-date picture of Religious Freedom in Austria in 2010 read the U.S. State Department 2010 International Religious Freedom Report on Austria.

Gender equality

33. The Government is aware of the barriers for equality of women and, in its government programme, agreed to issue a National Action Plan (NAP) for the Equality of Women and Men in the Labour Market. Together with the social partners and experts a paper containing proposals for the elimination of disadvantages for women has been prepared. This paper defines priorities as follows: diversification of education and career, increase of women in the labour market and their full-time employment in combination with a reduction in gender-specific differences, increase of the share of women in leading positions and reduction of income differentials between women and men. A package of 55 specific measures shall implement these goals, such as mandatory occupational counseling at the 7th and 8th grade level, a review of the curricula and core subjects with regard to stereotypes. Particular attention will be paid to girls with migration background by providing appropriate measures in education and teacher training, continuous nation-wide expansion of child-care facilities, the promotion of paternity leave and the legal obligation for companies to submit reports on the income of women and men (starting 2011 for large companies).

Gender equality in Austria is reflected in the Women’s UN Report Network (WUNRN) News Releases. Open this link and type Austria Gender Equality in the search engine to browse through a selection of articles: 


Fight against discrimination, xenophobia, racism and intolerance

44. Austria considers the fight against xenophobia and racism a priority task and takes various measures for the promotion of equal treatment and integration, and for the elimination of racism and prejudice. The government programme provides e.g. for the reinforcement of criminal-law protection against  discrimination. 45. Austria ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in 1972;36 the convention was implemented by a federal constitutional law.37

46. The principle of equal treatment is enshrined in the constitution.38 On this basis, extensive anti-discrimination legislation has been adopted, which is continuously being enhanced.39 In the administrative and civil-law area, the implementation of the relevant EU Directives40 has reinforced anti-discrimination legislation in Austria.

The UN Human Rights Council in its seventeenth session has a Panel Discussion and Dialogue on Resolution A/HRC/16/18 that was sponsored by Pakistan and adopted by consensus.  The resolution combines aspects of several important issues that have caused tension in the UN Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly for years over the fight against discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance. It promises to resolve several of these issues if adopted unanimously by the General Assembly in September 2011. Open this link to review the issues:

UN Human Rights Council Panel Discussion - Culture of Tolerance and Peace - 14 June 2011




U.S. State Department 2010 International Religious Freedom Report,


The Tandem Project a non-governmental organization (NGO) founded in 1986 to build understanding, tolerance, and respect for diversity of religion or belief, and to prevent discrimination in matters relating to freedom of religion or belief. The Tandem Project has sponsored multiple conferences, curricula, reference material and programs on Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights- Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion – and the 1981 United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.

In 1968 the United Nations deferred work on a legally-binding treaty on religious intolerance as too complex and sensitive and passed a non-binding declaration in its place. The Tandem Project believes until a core legally-binding human rights Convention on Freedom of Religion or Belief  is adopted international human rights law will be incomplete. It may be time to begin to consider reinstating the 1968 Working Group to better organize and bring all matters relating to freedom of religion or belief under one banner, a core international human rights legally-binding treaty.

Documents Attached: Background - Human Rights & Freedom of Religion or Belief; AUSTRIA - Universal Periodic Review & Freedom of Religion or Belief