United Nations

   The United Nations played a significant role in restoring Austria to the international state system after World War II. In November 1947, Austria was admitted to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), a special subsidiary of the UN charged with advancing education, research, and human and civil rights for all peoples. In July 1952, Dean Acheson became the first American secretary of state to visit Austria. There he vowed to work for full Austrian membership in the United Nations. The secretary general of the international organization, Trygve Lie, also supported the idea. One condition of membership was sovereignty; on 20 December 1952, the UN General Assembly, with the Soviet Union and its eastern bloc states absent, formally urged the Allied powers that made up the Austrian occupation to reach agreement on the Austrian State Treaty. Once independence was achieved in 1955, Austria became a sitting member of the UN. The position gave governments in Vienna a way of participating in activities abroad without compromising the state’s official neutrality. In 1956, the UN made Vienna the center for the International Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO), a special body of the international organization that advances the peaceful uses of nuclear technologies. Vienna hosted its first UN conference in 1957 and has filled that role many times since. Among the most noteworthy gatherings was the 1993 UN Congress on Human Rights, only the second of its kind since the actual Declaration of Human Rights was issued in 1948. UN City in Vienna, a complex of administrative buildings financed by the municipal government and the Austrian state, opened in April 1987. Austrian troops have also provided support services for UN peacekeeping activities in places as diverse as the Congo (1960) and Cyprus (1964–2001). On 22 December 1971, the UN chose Kurt Waldheim, the resident Austrian ambassador to the body, as its secretary general. Waldheim, who had held several ministerial positions in Austria, would continue in the position until 1981. His further career in Austria would be haunted by his evasive replies to questions about his army service during World War II and his possible violations of human rights.
   See also Foreign Policy.

Historical dictionary of Austria. . 2014.

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