The Norwegian Parliamentarians meet with former Norwegian Prime Minister, Ms. Gro Harlem Brundtland.
From left: Mr. Kjetil Solvik-Olsen, Ms. Line Henriette Hjemdal, Ms. Anne Tingelstad Wøien, Ms. Tove Linnea Brandvik, Mr. Håkon Haugli, Mr. Mikael Tetzschner. 
Photo: Norway Mission/Anders Aalbu.The Norwegian Parliamentarians meet with former Norwegian Prime Minister, Ms. Gro Harlem Brundtland. From left: Mr. Kjetil Solvik-Olsen, Ms. Line Henriette Hjemdal, Ms. Anne Tingelstad Wøien, Ms. Tove Linnea Brandvik, Mr. Håkon Haugli, Mr. Mikael Tetzschner. Photo: Norway Mission/Anders Aalbu

Norwegian MPs at the UN

10/12/2011 // Every fall the Norwegian Parliament, the Storting, sends two delegations to the UN. What impressions are these members of parliament left with after their four week visit? The participating parliamentarians shared their thoughts on the eve of departure.

During these four weeks in New York, the six members of parliament that constitute the first group had a tight schedule.

Line Henriette Hjemdal (Christian Democratic Party) says it's important for her as a parliamentarian to gain knowledge about the UN, the way it is organized and how it works.

“It is important for us as decision makers, both concerning financial allocations and the establishment of new law, to stay up-to-date on what is going on around the world,” Ms. Hjemdal says.

She adds that the fact that the parliamentarians spend as much time here as they do, shows that the Norwegian Parliament considers the UN and Norway’s role within it as important.

The MPs visiting the UN do not have foreign affairs as their field of work in the Parliament. Despite this, Håkon Haugli (Labour Party) finds it very relevant. As member of the Standing Committee on Local Government and Public Administration he is responsible for immigration and refugees coming to Norway.

“International affairs do have implications for our work. From now on I'm sure I will be more engaged in the parliamentary debates that cover global issues,” says Mr. Haugli.

Rushing between meetings, side-events and conferences, the MPs get a broad introduction to several areas of the work at the UN.

Anne T. Wøien (Centre Party) especially appreciates what she has learned about the role of women, both in development work and humanitarian efforts.

“There's no doubt that women make a difference, and it's great to see that this is taken into account at the UN,” she says.

The importance of women and gender equality was highlighted yet again when it was announced that the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to three women. They were given the Award for their non-violent struggle and for the right of women to participate fully in peace-building work. MP Line Henriette Hjemdal was part of the group who proposed two of the laureates this year to the Nobel Committee.

1325 is now more than a number to us. We knew something about it before we came here, now we know so much more,” Ms. Hjemdal says.

Tove Brandvik (Labour Party) reflected on how ongoing humanitarian catastrophes primarily are a result of capacity issues and lack of good governance on different levels;

“And I am therefore delighted to see the work that goes on locally around the world to strengthen communities and nations in order to handle the next crises.”

As a lawyer, Mikael Tetzschner (Conservative Party) is particularly interested in the processes that lead to the establishment of new International law.

“In that field the UN is important, and Norway plays a significant role for instance by promoting the role of women, but also by focusing on our own interests, such as maritime law. In my opinion, creating laws that regulate the relations between states in order to prevent conflicts is among the most important work that the UN does,” says Mr. Tetzschner.

Tetzschner also mentioned the role of the UN as a meeting place. This was acknowledged by Kjetil Solvik-Olsen (Progress Party).

“The importance of the UN as a place where different states and non-governmental organisations come together and talk to each other might be underestimated. We may disagree on whether the different programmes and funds actually work as intended, but the fact that people from all corners of the world come together here in New York is itself a reason to support the UN,” Mr. Solvik-Olsen concludes.

As the four weeks come to an end, the first delegation will go back to Norway and their regular work in Parliament. Meanwhile, a new delegation of MPs will arrive in New York, eager to gain knowledge about the UN.


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