On the 10th of December 2014, International Human Rights Day, a symposium on “Human Rights in the City: A City for all” was held in the auditorium of the University of Vienna Campus. The symposium was organised by the City of Vienna (MA 7 – Culture, MA 17 – Integration and Diversity and Human Rights Coordination of the City of Vienna), planned and carried out by the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights in cooperation with the Research Centre Human Rights of the University of Vienna. Austrian and international experts from academia and practise were invited to four thematically different panel discussions.
The symposium drew the attention of around 150 interested visitors from Vienna and the whole of Austria to the University of Vienna premises. Representatives of civil society, academics, staff members and representatives of the City of Vienna showed equal interest in the topic. The diversity of the audience promoted an interesting exchange between the speakers and civil society, in that practical ideas and constructive criticism could be introduced to the symposium alongside academic contributions. The individual panels were recorded by ZIGE.TV – der Sender der Zivilgesellschaft and are available here to watch: www.youtube.com/watch?v=yaX9P2BSfHo.
The symposium began with a greeting and introduction by Sandra Frauenberger, City Council for Integration, Gender Issues, Consumer Protection and Personnel of the City of Vienna. Shams Asadi and Karin König of the City of Vienna also provided, within the frame of their greeting, a thematic introduction to the proceedings of Vienna as a Human Rights City.
Manfred Nowak, Professor of International Law, Director of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights, as well as the newly founded Research Centre Human Rights of the University of Vienna, gave a presentation in connection with the study which he composed – “Vienna – City of Human Rights” (the entire study can be found here: www.wien.gv.at/menschen/integration/pdf/menschenrechte-studie-2013-bf.pdf).
In the introductory panel Monika Mokre (Austrian Academy of Sciences) spoke, as well as Michele Grigolo (Nottingham Trent University) and Hans Sakkers (Human Rights City Utrecht) on the topic “Human Rights in the City”.
In Panel 2 Bettina Köhler (University of Vienna International Network of Urban Research and Action), Andrea Binder-Zehetner (Local Agenda 21 Vienna), the international speaker Iva Čukić (Citizens‘ Initiative “Ministry of Space”) debated, as well as Elke Rauth (derive; festival Urbanize) on the topic “Human Rights in Public Space: Right to the City”.
In Panel 3 Hannes Tretter (Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Human Rights, Human Rights Research Centre), Gabriele Tatzberger (Vienna Business Agency), Karin Küblböck (Austrian Research Foundation for International Development), as well as Jan Niessen (Migration Policy Group in Brussels) addressed questions on the theme “Business and Human Rights – The City as an Economic Actor”.
In Panel 4 Christoph Reinprecht (Research Centre Human Rights of the University of Vienna; University of Vienna Institute for Sociology), international expert from Spain Eva Garcia Chueca (United Cities and Local Governments) and Michaela Moser (Ilse Arlt Institute of Social Inclusion Research) discussed the topic “Social Inclusion in the City”.
The symposium “Human Rights in the City: A City for all” was not only a great success due to considerable visitor interest, but was also characterised by high quality contributions, a variety of perspectives, as well as informed and constructive discussions. A festive reception for “Vienna – Human Rights City” took place in the Vienna City hall following the symposium.
A summary of the panel inputs can be found on the German version of the website.