The process towards a human rights city began 2013 with a political initiative based on an academic status analysis on the occasion of the Vienna+20. Vienna was the host city of the UN- World Conference on human rights in 1993. The Vienna Declaration and Program of Action (VDPA) adopted at the World Conference are considered as a landmark document for the promotion and protection of human rights.
In December 2014, the Vienna City Council approved the declaration “Vienna- City of Human Rights”. In this declaration pledges the City to act as a guardian and defender of human rights by striving to respect, protect, fulfil and be accountable for human rights in all of its areas of competence based on this approach, the City of Vienna actively supports its citizens in asserting and upholding their human rights by providing adequate framework conditions. This approach is based on the principle that every person living in the city has the same human rights regardless of their nationality or residency status.
Five strategic areas are defined in the declaration:
Establishment of the Human rights-based approach as a cross-Cutting subject in Politics and Administration
- International Cooperation and Networking
- Promotion of Human Rights Education in all parts of Society
- Dialogue with and participation of civil society
- Institutionalisation, Action Plan and Reporting, Monitoring
Human Rights Office
The Human Rights Office was established in September 2015 and acts as a connecting link between the different municipal departments, human rights organisations, the federal and regional institutions as well as the international bodies.
The Rights of the Child, human rights-based Security policies and awareness raising to and combating human trafficking at the local level have been main concern of the office since the beginning of the its activities. The office organizes “round tables” for discussions on these themes with different stakeholders.
The office provides support for delegations and visitors from all over the world, who visit the office for exchange. Human Rights education for youth and children will be carried on in cooperation with the Vienna federal school authorities. Internal trainings for employees of the city administration is also a part of the education.
In May 2018, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the World Conference on Human Rights, the Vienna+25, the office took an important role with other players to make this conference to become a success. Experts from all world, high-level representatives of the UN, human rights defenders and independent human rights experts from civil society and academia, regional, sub-regional and national human rights institutions as well as representatives from the local level came together to discuss the challenges on human rights and security as well as promotion of equality in our societies.
Celebration of the 10th of December – International Human Rights Day- participations in panel discussions and presentations of the Human Rights City in various conferences aim to build awareness towards the role of the local level in promotion of human rights.
Networking and knowledge transfer among the (human rights) cities and other players are inevitable for improvement of human rights and making human rights a reality for all in cities.