Austria is a Member State of the Council of Europe (COE) and of the United Nations (UN), and has human rights obligations at the regional and universal levels.
Regional: European System
As a Member of the COE, Austria has ratified the European Convention on Human Rights and is subject to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights. Austria has ratified the Revised European Social Charter, but has not authorized the European Committee of Social Rights to decide collective complaints against it. Its human rights policies and practices are also monitored by the COE Commissioner for Human Rights, who identifies gaps in human rights protection, conducts country visits, engages in dialogue with States, and prepares thematic reports and advice on human rights obligations.
Individuals and groups have submitted complaints of human rights violations committed by Austria to the European Court of Human Rights. For example, the Court found violations of the right to the prohibition of discrimination and the right to respect for private and family life when one partner in an unmarried homosexual relationship was prohibited from adopting her partner’s son (“second-parent adoption”), without cutting the biological mother’s legal ties with the child. See ECtHR, X and Others v. Austria, no. 19010/07, ECHR 2013, Judgment of 19 February 2013. Additionally, the Court may grant interim measures to protect people in urgent situations of risk in Austria.
As a State party to the Revised European Social Charter, Austria must submit yearly reports to the European Committee of Social Rights on its implementation of the Charter.
Austria is a party to the following regional human rights treaties:
- European Convention on Human Rights and several of its protocols
- Revised European Social Charter
- COE Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence
- COE Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings
- European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
- Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities
United Nations System
As a UN Member State, Austria is subject to the oversight of various UN human rights bodies, including the Human Rights Council and its Universal Periodic Review and thematic special procedures. As a party to specific universal human rights treaties, Austria’s policies and practices are monitored by UN treaty bodies. It has accepted the complaints procedure of six treaty bodies.
Austria has ratified the following UN human rights treaties:
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
- International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)
- Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT)
- Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (CED)
- Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
- Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
- Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
- International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD)
Austria has also ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR aimed at abolishing the death penalty, and optional protocols to the CRC addressing children in armed conflict and the sale of children, child prostitution, and child pornography. Austria has a duty to submit State reports to the UN treaty body associated with each human rights treaty Austria has ratified. These reports must be submitted on a periodic basis and describe the steps Austria has taken to implement the treaty provisions.
Austria has also ratified optional protocols or made appropriate declarations allowing individuals to submit complaints against the State alleging violations of the ICCPR, CAT, CEDAW, CRPD, CED, and CERD.
Specific UN treaties establish inquiry procedures, which allow the UN treaty body to consider allegations of grave or systematic human rights violations. Austria has accepted the inquiry procedures of the CAT, CED, CEDAW, and CRPD.
In March 2001, Austria extended a standing invitation to UN special procedures, welcoming any such mandate holder to conduct a visit to Austria. For example, the Independent Expert in the field of cultural rights went on a mission to Austria in April 2011 and published a report on that visit in April 2012.
For more information on Austria’s engagement with UN human rights bodies, visit http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/ENACARegion/Pages/ATIndex.aspx.
Last updated: July 2019