Yury Fedotov

Director-General/Executive Director

50 th Anniversary of the Vienna Convention

on Diplomatic Relations

Vienna, 6 April 2011


Ladies and Gentlemen,

For both Austria and the international community, 2011 marks a number of important anniversaries.

This year, Austria is celebrating the 100 th birthday of Chancellor Bruno Kreisky, whose deep devotion to internationalism helped Austria to become a vocal advocate for peace and helped to bring the United Nations to Vienna.

And fifty years ago, when Mr. Kreisky was Austria's Foreign Minister, the Convention on Diplomatic Relations was adopted in Vienna. I would like to thank the Foreign Policy and United Nations Association of Austria and the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna for hosting today's commemoration of this important milestone in the history of international relations.

The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations is the bedrock upon which diplomacy stands. By keeping lines of communication open and protecting the privileges of diplomatic missions, the Convention facilitates relations and trust between States. In the 50 years since its adoption, almost every country on earth has ratified the Convention. It is the fundamental framework for cooperation between States, helping them to work together to build peace, stability and development.

It is fitting that the Convention was signed in Vienna. The first effort to codify the rules of diplomacy also occurred in this city, at the Congress of Vienna. In contemporary times, Austria has used its good offices to facilitate peaceful relations among States and to promote arms control and disarmament. And it has long been a major supporter of the United Nations. It is no surprise that Austria has been elected to serve as a non-permanent member of the Security Council three times.

Austria is also a vital member of the UN peacekeeping community. Since 1960, more than 90,000 Austrian troops have supported UN peacekeeping and humanitarian missions around the world. Today, hundreds of Austrian peacekeepers are helping to restore peace and security in Africa, Asia and Europe.

And for over 30 years, the Government of Austria and the City of Vienna have been generous hosts to the United Nations, in full compliance with the Vienna Convention. I am very pleased to thank Austria for its firm commitment to the ideals of the United Nations and its longstanding support.

Today, Vienna is one of the four headquarters of the United Nations. With the strong support of Austria and the City of Vienna, the Vienna International Centre has become an important hub for promoting peace and development, and a number of international organizations are headquartered there. These include:

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime , which promotes health, security and justice around the world by tackling threats from illicit drugs, organized crime, corruption and terrorism.

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization , which strives to reduce poverty in developing countries and economies in transition through sustainable industrial development.

The International Atomic Energy Agency , which works to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and promotes the peaceful use of atomic energy for health, security and development.

The Preparatory Commission of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization , which strengthens the Treaty's verification regime and promotes its universal ratification and implementation.

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs , which promotes international cooperation for the peaceful uses of space. And this spring we are commemorating another anniversary-50 years since the first manned space flight.

Vienna is no longer just a hub of scientific and technical expertise and knowledge for the United Nations. The Vienna-based organizations play a high-profile role in the world today, addressing issues of global importance. Their work is fully integrated into the UN agenda for peace, development and human rights.

The world is constantly changing, often faster than we expect, and often with unpredictable outcomes. Globalization has turned out to be a double-edged sword. Open borders, open markets, and increased ease of travel and communication have benefitted not only decent people but also criminals and terrorists, producing new challenges and threats to global stability.

Drug trafficking and organized crime are undermining stability and security in many regions. Criminals take advantage of countries weakened by war or disasters, putting peace and development under threat. We are witnessing more and more instances of non-traditional conflicts fuelled by drug trafficking and organized crime. Meanwhile, recent events in North Africa and the Middle East have underscored the impact that corruption and crime can have on stability.

There is still the risk that criminal organizations or terrorist groups could get hold of nuclear material to threaten or attack countries or entire regions. Finally, unemployment, poverty and underdevelopment feed criminal organizations and terrorists groups, providing foot soldiers to be used as "expendable human equipment" in illicit activities and terrorist attacks.

For all these reasons, it is critical to integrate the work of the Vienna-based organizations into the international community's broader agenda for peace and development. UNODC is addressing crime and drug control, while UNIDO is providing viable employment opportunities. The IAEA is using nuclear technology to promote health and sustainable development, preventing nuclear proliferation, and coordinating action with UNODC to prevent nuclear terrorism. OOSA is offering space technologies to assist the world in improving development activities and to prevent or respond to natural disasters.

The international community's main bodies governing drug and crime policy meet every year in Vienna. My main message to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs two weeks ago, and to the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice next week, is the necessity of integration and international cooperation if we are to confront global challenges effectively.

Coming back to the Vienna Convention, I would like once again to emphasize its relevance as an indispensible instrument that helps international diplomacy to foster cooperation among nations in working toward peace and development.

Faced with major threats from drugs, crime, terrorism, nuclear materials as well as from nature itself, the international community cannot afford to be complacent. To face down these and other global challenges, we need a comprehensive and integrated approach. We also need to build new partnerships. Governments and civil society must work together. States have to join forces in promoting regional and international cooperation.

Diplomacy is the lynchpin for all such efforts. Only by working together can we create a better world-a world in which people have opportunities and hopes for the future; in which communities are free of crime and violence; in which Governments can provide for the health and safety of their citizens and govern effectively. Let us work together-using diplomacy and all the other tools at our disposal-to build this world.

Thank you very much.