INTERNATIONAL: For Four Days, Alpbach is a UN Headquarters

Saturday, September 4, 2010
Austrian Foreign Ministry
Western Europe
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
General Women, Peace and Security

The fact that the entire UN top management is in Alpbach to prepare the autumn agenda represents a great success for Austria's UN policy and a recognition of our close partnership", said Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger at the beginning of the UN Security Council seminar in Alpbach. The topics of this year's "UN retreat", which is already the fourth of its kind and is attended by UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon and several other high-ranking members of the UN Secretariat and UN ambassadors from New York, will include issues of conflict prevention, protection of civilians in armed conflicts, and possibilities of strengthening the role of women in conflict and post-conflict situations.

Parallel to this UN retreat, the UN's Senior Management Retreat, a kind of managing board meeting of the United Nations' top officials, will be taking place for the first time this year in Alpbach between September 5 and 7. The UN Secretary General will be meeting with the top leadership of his organisation to prepare the most important tasks and political decisions of the coming year. "Hence, for four days Alpbach is turning into a UN headquarters – and the Alpbach into East River", said Spindelegger.

"In its remaining months in the UN Security Council, Austria will focus its attention on two issues: During the last Alpbach retreat, we successfully launched resolution 1894 on the protection of civilians in armed conflicts. Following its unanimous adoption by the UN Security Council in November 2009, we must now press ahead with the implementation of this resolution", said Spindelegger. He added that, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of resolution 1325 on women, peace, and security, Austria will promote further concrete implementation steps toward greater consideration of women's issues in all aspects of international peace efforts. "There are mixed results. Even 10 years later, there are still major gaps in the implementation of this resolution: Women continue to be largely absent in peace processes and conflict resolution efforts, and crimes against them all too often remain unpunished", said the Foreign Minister.

"The latest shocking mass rapes in Eastern Congo and the continuing brutal attacks against humanitarian aid workers in Chad or Afghanistan demonstrate more than ever before that this is not a sham debate, but that there is urgent need for action. Our efforts to improve the protection of civilians must not abate. Austria will make the best possible use of its remaining time in the UN Security Council to promote this", stressed Spindelegger.

The talks also dealt with the issue of greater rights for the European Union at the United Nations as a result of the Lisbon Treaty. The corresponding resolution of the General Assembly is currently being negotiated. "It is in our interest to have the EU represented with a strong voice in New York. We must not accept any false compromises. The EU's High Representative Catherine Ashton should already be given full speaking and representation rights at the next General Assembly. We must not repeat a situation like the one experienced during the latest UN session on Pakistan. We shall consistently use our membership in the Security Council to strengthen the EU, and we shall engage in persuasion toward non-EU states where necessary", emphasized Foreign Minister Spindelegger.