The 67th session of the UN General Assembly will open with high-level meetings from 24 to 28 September. The Norwegian delegation will be led by the Prime Minister, and will include several representatives from the Government. This year, there will be a summit on the rule of law at the national and international levels. Other key issues for Norway are the situation in North Africa and the Middle East, Sudan and South Sudan, Myanmar, the negotiations on the scale of assessments for the apportionment of UN expenses, and the follow up of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), the Millennium Development Goals with particular focus on MDGs 4 and 5, reducing child mortality and improving maternal health, and the policy review of the UN’s development activities.
General priorities for Norway
The Government’s general priorities for Norway’s UN engagement are set out in the policy platform for the coalition Government for the period 2009–13 and various documents from the Storting, and have been further clarified by parliamentary debates and various speeches by ministers and others.
Norway will promote human rights, gender equality and equitable distribution of resources and opportunities in all its work within the UN system.
The rule of law
A one-day plenary meeting on the rule of law will be held on 24 September, during the week of high-level meetings. Developments in North Africa and the Middle East have made this topic particularly relevant. Many countries are implementing political and constitutional reforms and Norway supports those who are demanding that political power and participation must have a sound legal basis, and that judicial institutions must have the confidence of the people. The principles of the rule of law, including the security of persons and property, are also fundamental to development. Implementation of human rights at the national level is an integral part of the rule of law agenda. Norway has a tradition of providing assistance to countries where the justice sector is weak, or where there is a need for security sector reform. This applies not least to countries emerging from war and conflict. We want to be able to influence the debate on these issues in the UN. It has therefore been decided that this year’s Trygve Lie Symposium will focus on ensuring equal rights and participation for all in states in transition.
UN leadership, reform and budget
It is important for Norway that the UN works efficiently and takes a results-based approach. The Secretary-General’s five-year action agenda for his second term places great emphasis on making the UN more effective, and Norway supports these ambitions. This includes reviewing the current budget process and improving the management of human resources so that positions can be filled and moved quickly in response to changing needs.
The UN should continue to improve its coordination of efforts in member states. There is also a need for better security for UN personnel. We will continue to advocate that the administrative system and financial resources of the organisation are commensurate with the tasks we, the member states, require the organisation to carry out. In the negotiations on member states’ contributions, based on the scales of assessment, Norway will seek to promote a more equitable sharing of financial responsibilities among member states. Countries experiencing sustained economic growth should demonstrate their willingness to pay their share. Norway will also work to promote a broader financial foundation for the UN’s development activities in general.
Norway will take a constructive and critical approach to the question of resource use by the UN, with a view to achieving stronger performance-based management, better measuring of results and good reporting routines. Norway will work to ensure that the UN continues to promote measures to combat financial irregularities, enhance accountability and strengthen internal oversight. We will continue our active engagement to improve UN country team leadership and coordination through follow-up of the recommendations of the UN Panel on System-wide Coherence, work on integrated peace operations and humanitarian reform. This will be done through consultation processes, negotiations and dialogue with key developing countries, and by taking steps to include civil society and the private sector more fully. In particular, Norway will seek to ensure that this year’s Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR) of the UN’s development activities advances UN reform.
As part of the follow-up of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), processes will be initiated in the General Assembly relating to the structure, mandate and functions of a new forum on sustainable development and to measures for strengthening and upgrading the UN Development Programme (UNEP).
Sustainable development (environmental, economic and social dimensions)
Norway will continue to play a leading role in efforts to achieve all the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the lead-up to and beyond 2015. MDGs 4 and 5, on reducing child mortality and improving maternal health, including achieving universal access to reproductive health, are special priority areas for Norway. This is reflected by the fact that Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg co-chairs the UN Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children together with the President of Nigeria.
Norway will work to ensure that the results of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) are implemented. In particular, Norway will promote the development of a set of Sustainable Development Goals, modelled on the Millennium Development Goals, that can mobilise international cooperation for sustainable development.
Norway will advocate a progressive post-2015 development agenda that promotes poverty reduction, equitable distribution of resources, sustainable development, gender equality and women’s rights. Norway will also work to ensure that the human rights dimension is included adequately, both in the post-2015 development agenda and in the policy review of the UN’s development activities. We attach particular importance to the Secretary-General’s initiative on Sustainable Energy for All and the Norwegian Government’s Energy+ initiative as instruments in this regard, as well as to the emphasis placed in Energy+ on the private sector and results-based financing.
Peace and security
Norway will continue its engagement to strengthen UN capacity to prevent and resolve armed conflicts and build sustainable peace, for instance through UN-led peace operations. Women’s participation in mediation and in consolidating peace processes will be emphasised. Norway will play an active role in promoting implementation of the various Security Council resolutions on the protection of civilians, on women and children in armed conflict and on the responsibility to protect. This includes the open debates in the Security Council on thematic issues such as women, peace and security, sexual violence, children in armed conflict and the protection of civilians.
The UN’s response to the situation in Syria, in Sudan and South Sudan, in Myanmar and in Afghanistan will be given priority. Norway will work to bring about a more transparent, efficient and effective Security Council, in part by promoting reform of its working methods. Norway will continue its engagement to revitalise the UN’s multilateral disarmament machinery, with particular emphasis on combating the unacceptable humanitarian harm caused by certain types of weapons.
Norway will support initiatives to reform and improve the effectiveness of UN peacekeeping operations, in which military, police and civilian personnel serve together. Norway will also promote peacebuilding at an early stage as an integral part of peacekeeping operations, especially through security sector reform and developing the rule of law in countries that have been affected by conflict. Norway will highlight the importance of the UN taking a more integrated approach to security challenges such as transnational crime, terrorism and piracy.
We will continue our support for the implementation of the Programme of Action for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which has the total elimination of nuclear weapons as its main objective. Particular focus will be placed on the consequences of using nuclear weapons, and on the institutional challenges associated with the multilateral disarmament machinery.
Gender equality and non-discrimination
Promoting women’s rights and gender equality is a priority for Norway. Norway continues to be a member of the UN Women Excecutive Board, and it is one of the entity’s largest financial contributors. The importance of gender equality as a driver of macroeconomic productivity must be emphasised. Violence against women, women’s right to reproductive health and decriminalisation of abortion will be key priorities. Women’s rights and gender equality issues are under increasing pressure in UN forums, and this is particularly the case for sexual and reproductive health and rights. Norway will therefore seek to build alliances and will oppose all attempts to undermine agreed principles and standards on gender equality and women’s rights. Norway will work to ensure that the marking of the 20th anniversary of the Beijing conference on Women in 2015 contributes positively to the promotion of gender equality and women’s rights. Women’s political participation and influence and their right to education and economic empowerment will be given priority.
Promotion of human rights
Norway intends to play a leading role in work on the resolution on the death penalty. We will seek greater support for the resolution on the human rights situation in Iran, and we will advocate a constructive approach to the annual resolution on Myanmar, in light of the positive political developments in the country over the last year. Depending on developments in Syria, Norway will continue to work actively towards resolutions on the human rights situation in the country. Moreover, Norway will provide active support for Denmark’s resolution on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Sweden’s resolution on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and Mexico’s resolution on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism. Together with the other Nordic countries, Norway will follow up the UN’s work on strengthening the human rights treaty bodies. Our leading role in the core group for the promotion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LHBT) rights will be continued and high priority will also be given to freedom of speech and the fight against religious intolerance and racism. The situation of children and young people will also be a priority where relevant.
Norway will seek to ensure that humanitarian principles are adhered to. At the same time, greater focus is needed on the individual responsibility of every country for preventing and addressing humanitarian crises. Norway will continue to be one of the UN’s closest supporters and partners in responding to humanitiarian crises and will seek to ensure that the UN humanitarian system gains a broader range of supporters and partners, including UN member states, regional organisations and the private sector. We will also set requirements for making the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the international humanitarian system more effective.
Promotion of justice and international law
Strengthening international criminal law will continue to be a priority. This includes completing the deadlocked negotiations on a comprehensive convention on international terrorism and the debate on universal jurisdiction. It is important to prevent the debate on universal jurisdiction from being sidetracked or limiting the international community’s capacity to prosecute those responsible for the most serious forms of crime.
We always follow the work of the International Law Commission closely, particularly its work on immunity for heads of state and issues that are of direct relevance for Norway’s core interests.
The law of the sea and fisheries issues have high priority. Strengthening the Convention on the Law of the Sea as the overall legal framework for all activities in the marine sector is a major objective for Norway. The General Assembly is a key arena for promoting Norway as a responsible coastal state that loyally supports and implements the Convention on the Law of the Sea, and as a responsible steward of its living marine resources. Food security, bottom fishing and the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing will continue to be priority issues in the fisheries sector. Norway’s priorities as regards the law of the sea include the work being done by the working group on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction. The working group is considering the possibility of drawing up a new agreement under the Convention on the Law of the Sea on the environment and marine genetic resources. Norwegian priorities in the field of the law of the sea also include the following: ensuring the legitimacy and effectiveness of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf; capacity-building in developing countries; the fight against piracy; and the promotion of the Polar Code being developed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
Drug control and combating terrorism
Norway will support the UN in the implementation of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and will participate actively in the work leading up to the next review of the strategy. Norway will work to ensure that the protection of human rights is mainstreamed into all four pillars of the strategy. Norway will also work towards the inclusion of a strong reference to an implementation mechanism for the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.
Work on the resolution on drug control put forward by Mexico will be continued. We will support measures to combat transnational organised crime and its negative impact on development and stability.
Nordic UN cooperation
Together with the other Nordic countries, Norway will continue to support the Secretary-General’s efforts in the areas of administrative reform and in strengthening the UN and making it more effective, including “One UN” at country level (Delivering as One). Norway should also work towards a Nordic strategy in the UN, especially as regards the rights and duties of middle-income countries in the UN system and sexual and reproductive rights. In areas of common interest, Nordic cooperation should be sought when drafting texts and statements. In keeping with established Nordic practice, Norway supports Finland’s candidacy for non-permanent membership of the Security Council for the 2013–14 period.