Photo: Tor Borgersen/Prime Ministers Office.Photo: Tor Borgersen/Prime Ministers Office

Norway and the United Nations: Common Future, Common Solutions

5/3/2013 // Norway has launched a White Paper outlining its UN policy. The white paper “Norway and the United Nations: Common Future, Common Solutions”, launched in September 2012, addresses Norway`s relationship to the UN as well as today`s challenges which are more complex than they were in 1945 when the UN was founded.

Norway has a fundamental interest in a well-functioning global legal order in which right prevails over might, and where relations between states are governed by binding standards, conventions and legislation. The UN’s normative function means that the UN system plays a key role in upholding and promoting the international legal order, which in turn promotes peace and human rights. The UN is an important political arena for Norway, as well as an important partner in development, state-building and global crisis management. The white paper emphasises the fact that rules developed by the international community are also essential for safeguarding Norway’s economic development, security and values.

According to the white paper, the UN faces complex challenges today. This calls for a greater capability to manage complexity and to link agendas with responses. Another challenge is that some countries perceive the existing structures as a mechanism that continues and enhances the influence of the traditional major powers. Furthermore, the UN is facing greater competition. New informal groups, regional organisations, civil society and also private actors are becoming increasingly prominent in the international arena.

Norway will draw attention to the need for reform, and have supported several important reforms that have strengthened and modernised the UN. However, there are still many parts of the UN system that need to be made more effective. New tasks are continually being imposed on the UN system, new organisations are being established and the system is growing. Norway will continue to be a driving force for modernising and strengthening the organisation. In these efforts there are three bottlenecks in particular: funding, leadership and partnership.

The white paper is sending a message that there needs to be a stronger connection between results achieved and the funding Norway provides. Norway is the world’s fourth largest contributor to the UN. The aim is for the UN to function even more effectively. The white paper sets out seven criteria for evaluating UN organisations. The organisations that perform best will receive more funding, while those that have not achieved the necessary results will receive less.

The white paper states that the Government will:

  • promote Security Council reform with a view to enhancing its legitimacy and effectiveness
  • seek to increase Norway’s contributions to UN-led operations 
  • defend and strengthen established UN norms and human rights standards
  • give priority to Security Council resolutions on women, peace and security.
  • intensify efforts in the UN to promote equitable distribution of resources and opportunities both between countries and within them.
  • work to ensure that the UN plays a role in efforts to combat tax havens and illicit financial flows. 

Read the summary here

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