Vienna - Centre for International Dialogue

International cooperation and dialogue are a prerequisite in all efforts aimed at establishing sustainable peace and development. Since Austria became a member of the United Nations in 1955, effective multilateralism has thus been one of the key priorities of Austrian foreign policy. 

Located in the heart of Europe as a geographic interface between different cultures, religions and political systems, Austria has been, and continues to be, a bridge builder that supports constructive dialogue.

As home to many international insti-tutions and organisations, Vienna has evolved into a vibrant international hub where a great diversity of topics is being addressed. This brochure strives to high-light and illustrate the importance and the diverse nature of the issues covered, ranging from human rights to safety and security through to sustainability and development. 

The Vienna hub and, in particular, the Vienna International Centre (known as the VIC or UNO City), which was opened in 1979, act as a driver for the Austrian economy: the benefits of having some 40 international organisations located in Austria translates, for instance, in an annual positive net effect of more than 500 million euros, directly or indirectly securing some 10,000 jobs. This is ano-ther reason why active promotion and strengthening of the Vienna hub have been a consistent priority of Austrian foreign policy for 40 years. Furthermore, the presence of international organisa-tions and agencies also contributes to increasing Vienna’s attractiveness as a business location and destination for conference tourism.

By providing an optimal framework combined with a unique atmosphere, Vienna has for many years now  welcomed and successfully hosted the international community. Austria as a host country, in turn, appreciates the extraordinary contribution the Vienna -based inter-national organisations and institutions make towards strengthening the city’s reputation as a venue for dialogue and multilateral diplomacy. 

May I assure you that I personally will continue to undertake every effort towards promoting the Vienna hub as a vibrant venue for dialogue and sustain-able bridge building. 

 

 

Sebastian Kurz
Federal Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs

 

The Vienna Hub Promotes Dialogue

Vienna as a place of diversity

Austria has a long-standing tradition in promoting dialogue between and among different cultures and religions, which is not least attributable to the cul-tural diversity that characterises Austrian society. Vienna plays an important role as a pluralistic and multi-religious hub for dialogue within societies and across borders that focuses on building confi-dence and peace while dismantling prejudice and stereotypes.

 

...of encounters

Since 2014, outstanding and innovative projects that successfully promote intercultural dialogue worldwide have been officially recognised by the Inter-cultural Achievement Award established by Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz. The award was conceived as an incentive for non-profit organisations to use and further develop methods for dialogue. At the same time this award aims to further consolidate Vienna’s position as a hub for strengthening intercultural dialogue in international and multilateral fora. 

 

...of ideas

Vienna, as an active and committed member, also hosted the 5th UNAOC Global Forum in 2013. In the field of international relations both UNAOC and KAICIID pursue an approach aimed at promoting a culture of peace through the “soft power” tool of dialogue.

With one of its headquarters in Vienna, the United Nations is an indispensable partner in international intercultural and interreligious dialogue. In the context of its efforts towards promoting under-standing between cultures, Vienna cooperates closely with multilateral dialogue initiatives, including the UN Alliance of Civilisations (UNAOC), the King Abdullah International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID) and numerous civil society initiatives. 

The Vienna Hub brings Safety and Security

 

Fight against crime

Organised crime does not stop at national borders. Criminals make billions from trafficking in drugs, arms and human beings or in the seemingly limit-less worlds of cyberspace. Every country is affected and called upon to protect the safety and security of its citizens. The Vienna-based UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) coordinates inter-national efforts aimed at preventing and fighting crime and assists countries by concrete projects. In this context, a special focus is being placed on respecting the rule of law and human rights. The globalisation of crime requires a globalised response in order to ensure greater safety and security for each and every citizen also in Austria.

 

Cocoa instead of cocaine

Cultivating drugs is often driven by poverty and the struggle for survival rather than by greed. UNODC supports, also by means of Austrian project fun-ding, farmers in typical drug cultivation regions by facilitating a change to legal and sustainable production, thus enab-ling them to earn a living wage. Quality and environmental protection standards as well as fair trade also play an import-ant role. Products from such “alterna-tive” development projects are inter alia used to produce high-quality Austrian chocolate.

 

A world free of corruption

Corruption benefits a few at the expense of the general public: billions of euros disappear into the pockets of corrupt individuals. Corruption under-mines democracy and the rule of law and jeopardizes the development of whole countries. In fighting this global phenomenon, UNODC cooperates with governments, experts and non-govern-mental organisations. The  International Anti-Corruption Academy in Laxenburg (IACA) is a centre for training anti-cor-ruption experts, collecting and sharing of expert knowledge, know-how and best practice examples of anti-cor-ruption activities.

 

Words instead of arms

Whenever political tensions are at risk of escalating into military conflict in Europe or Central Asia, the Vienna-based Orga-nisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is challenged. The OSCE negotiates confidence-building measu-res between its 57 participating states, ranging from the USA to the Russian Federation and Tajikistan. It operates field missions in the Balkans, in Ukraine and Moldova, in the Caucasus and in all Central Asian successor republics of the former Soviet Union. From its Vienna headquarters, the Organisation strives to foster progress in the fields of security and disarmament, strengthen human rights and promote environmental and economic issues. People are thus the key focus of the OSCE security concept.

The Vienna Hub Fights for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons

Although the Cold War and the nuclear arms race no longer dominate the headlines, nuclear arms and their possible deployment still pose a real and immediate threat to our existence. Due to their increasing proliferation they are indeed considered as representing an even more serious threat than 20 years ago. In striving to counteract the associated risks, Austria has for many years now played a highly active role at inter-national level.

 

Control of Nuclear Technologies

The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), whose objectives include a ban on the spread of nuclear weapons, the commitment to nuclear disarmament and the right to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, plays a pivotal role. Observance of the treaty is  checked and monitored based on an effective safeguards and verification system by the Inter-national Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Headquartered in Vienna since 1952, it also strives to ensure the peaceful use of nuclear technology and the observance of the highest standards in nuclear power plants. In 2005, the IAEA was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of its efforts towards reaching these goals.

 

Monitoring instead of testing

With its network of monitoring stations that have been set up in 90 states worldwide, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO) makes sure that no illegal nuclear tests are conducted. As such tests are key to the development of nuclear arms, clan-destine development is severely restricted, if not rendered impossible, by the existence of these monitoring stations. A number of Vienna-based organisations, including the Wassenaar Arrangement (WA) or the Secretariat of The Hague Code of Conduct (HCoC), contribute towards enhancing transparency in international coope-ration on promoting disarmament.

The Vienna Hub Stands for Human Rights

Protecting Human Rights Worldwide

The promotion and protection of human rights is a clear priority for Austria. Human rights are the hallmark that distinguishes all great civilisations, cultures and religions. As the host country of the World Conference on Human Rights 1993, which was attended by almost 10,000 participants, Vienna successfully proved itself as the ideal location for international encounter and dialogue, providing a forum at which the international community underlined its commitment to the universality and indivisibility of human rights.

The achievements of this historic conference were  also discussed in the light of current challenges at follow-up events. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the World Conference on Human Rights, the international High Level Expert Conference “Vienna+20: Advancing the Protection of Human Rights“ was, for instance, organised in June 2013 in cooperation with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

 

Three Years of Active Membership of the UN Human Rights Council

During its membership of the UN Human Rights Council (2012-2014) Austria focused on clear priorities related to pressing human rights issues including the promotion of freedom of the media and the protection of journalists, the protection of freedom of religion and freedom of conscience as well as the protection of religious minorities. Following its term on the Human Rights Council, Austria continues to pursue these priorities. As a place of dialogue and cooperation, Austria works committedly towards fostering the resolution of human rights issues in an open and transparent manner. In 2018, Austria will seek re-election to the Human Rights Council for the period 2019-2021.

 

Promoting seamless protection of fundamental rights in the EU 

Since its establishment in 2007, the Vienna-based European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has developed into a key competence centre on EU fundamental rights issues. By collecting comparative data in all EU Member States on current human rights issues including violence against women, the situation of Roma and Sinti, data protection or discrimination against homosexuals and by providing counselling services to institutions, the FRA makes a key contribution towards achieving the goal of seamless fundamental rights protection in the European Union.

The Vienna Hub Ensures Energy for All

 

Vienna as an Energy Hub

Vienna is currently home to the headquarters and offices of ten inter-national organisations and NGOs that focus on a wide range of energy issues and have joined to form the Vienna Energy Club. Every two years, three of these organisations – the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) – organise the Vienna Energy Forum. Vienna thus fulfils an important function as an international energy hub that provides highly relevant impetus to facilitate global energy policy-making.

For more than 50 years, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has contributed towards stabilising the oil market for the benefit of producers and end users as well as towards minimising price fluctuations attributable to external and internal factors. The International Peace Institute (IPI) and the OSCE are engaged also in the energy field in encouraging active dialogue and sharing their expert knowledge on peace building. For ten years now the Energy Community has developed binding European legislation for EU neighbouring states such as Ukraine and the countries of the Wes-tern Balkans – “European Energy Law made in Vienna“, so to speak. 

 

More Sustainability

Numerous Vienna-based organisations are actively engaged in extending the use of renewable energy and increasing energy efficiency in order to reduce CO2 emissions and counter climate change. 

The Vienna Hub Guarantees Sustainability

 

Sustainable Development

The Vienna-based United Nations Indus-trial Development Organisation (UNIDO) plays a major role in implementing the Millennium Development Goals and – from 2015 onwards – the Sustainable Development Goals, defined by the International Community  and aimed at fighting poverty and promoting sustainable development.

In the priority countries of development cooperation, Austria is not only active in the context of bilateral programmes but also uses tools provided by UNIDO in implementing joint projects and supporting common objectives. UNIDO and Austria have joined forces in Moldova, Armenia, Uganda and Bhutan as well as on Pacific Islands. Projects aimed at increasing the efficiency of small and medium-si-zed companies, developing sustainable tourism, supporting youth employment and contributing towards private sector development and promoting renewable energies are thus implemented together.

 

Environmental Protection

Austria‘s unique cultural landscape with its mountains and the city of Vienna located on the banks of the River Danube provide the ideal setting for hosting those inter-national organisations that are dedicated to nature conservation – and more specifically, to the protection, preservation and sustainable use of such mountain landscapes and the Danube itself. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is not only a global advocate of the special relevance of mountain regions but also acts as the Secretariat of the Carpathian Convention. The activities of the International Commission for the Protec-tion of the Danube River (ICPDR) are direc-ted towards protecting one of the largest water catchment areas in Europe – from Montenegro to Ukraine, from Germany to Bulgaria – combining nature conservation with sustainable water management and flood protection.

Outer Space

From Vienna the world is literally “rea-ching for the stars”: the Vienna-based offices of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), loca-ted in the Vienna International Centre (VIC) since 1993, promote internatio-nal cooperation on the peaceful uses of outer space.

The Vienna office also manages a register of all objects laun-ched into outer space (OSO, Online Index of Object Launched into Outer Space) and is home to UNSPIDER (Uni-ted Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response), a pro-gramme that facilitates access to spa-ce-based information for use in disaster prevention.

Vienna is Number One

According to surveys published by the consulting firm MERCER Survey and numerous international rankings, Vienna regularly tops the charts as the city with the best quality of life in the world. 

 

Excellent Quality of Life

  • A rich cultural life and a diverse arts scene leave nothing to be desired –from magnificent historical buildings and museums to a vibrant nightlife.
  • Optimal leisure, sports and shopping opportunities in Vienna and in the greater Vienna area boasting beautiful landscapes, and recreational opportunities invite visitors to explore the city and its immediate surroundings.
  • The Vienna coffee houses, gourmet restaurants and wine taverns offer a wide and diverse range of culinary delights.
  • A stable political and economic environment guarantees a high level of personal safety and security.

 

Optimal Infrastructure

  • Very good connections to the international airport, excellent transport routes and an extensive public transport network.
  • Excellent internet and telecommunication networks as well as a large number of top conference centres, hotels and restaurants.
  • Numerous international and bilingual schools, modern universities, universi-ties of applied sciences and research institutions.
  • Very good medical care.

 

International Environment

The numerous Vienna-based international organisations are not only import-ant hubs but also contribute to Austria’s prosperity

 

Impressive indirect profitability

The presence of some 40 international organisations translates in an annual positive net effect of more than 500 mil-lion euros, directly or indirectly securing around 10,000 jobs. Conference tourism also makes a considerable contribution to Austria’s gross national product.

 

Vienna as host to international events

Involving the Vienna-based organisa-tions, Austria organises a large number of international conferences and has over the last few years been able to position itself as a hub for important international topics

In 2014, Vienna proved particularly successful as a venue for international dialogue: alongside numerous rounds of E3/EU+3 talks with Iran held at both political and technical level, the ministerial conferences organised in the context of Austria’s Presidency of the Central European Initiative as well as the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers meetings, Vienna hosted two further major international conferences on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons as well as on supporting land-locked developing countries.

Synergy effects associated with the Vienna-based international organisations

Since 23 August 1979, the Vienna Inter-national Centre (VIC) has been one of the four headquarters of the United Nations. Featuring a modern architectu-ral design, the VIC houses 4,500 offices and nine conference halls. It is also headquarters to numerous international organisations, which only pay a token rent but are required to cover ongoing maintenance and operating costs.

The unique feature that distinguishes Vienna as a conference venue is the VIC‘s connection to the Austria Center Vienna (ACV). Opened in 1987, the ACV is the largest congress centre in Austria, boasting an exhibition area of 22,000m².  

Since 1998, the VIC has also housed a Visitor Centre where the interested pub-lic can learn more about the work of the United Nations.

 

Involvement of Civil Society

In cooperation with the international organisations located in Vienna and Austrian government authorities, a large number of Vienna-based non-governmental and non-profit organisations address topics such as human rights, intercultural dialogue, sustainable development, environmental protection and disarmament. 

More than 100 Austrian civil society organisations are accredited with the United Nations alone.