Respect for the right of freedom of expression constitutes a pillar of democracy. Freedom of expression - the right to receive and express opinions, ideas and information, is a universal right and fundamental to any democratic society. We call on countries that unduly restrict freedom of expression, including on the Internet, to lift such restrictions. How we exercise freedom of expression while respecting the diversity of our multicultural world is a challenge to all of us. In the intersection of freedom of expression with other human rights, we should pursue a constructive and peaceful dialogue. Entering into dialogue is not to give up conflicting principles and values, it is a way of understanding different views and managing fundamental differences.
The freedoms of assembly and association are cornerstones of a pluralistic democracy. Whether individually or in association, citizens should have the right to advocate for the promotion and protection of human rights. They should be able to question or criticise without fear of reprisals.
Those who work on a daily basis to ensure that all individuals can enjoy their fundamental rights and freedoms - often at the risk of their own lives - deserves the greatest possible respect and support from the international community.
The special session of the Human Rights Council on the dire situation of the Burmese people was a timely response to an ongoing crisis. Norway remains convinced of the importance of continued international engagement in Myanmar. Norway condemns the gross and systematic violations of human rights in Myanmar. We strongly encourage the government to start an inclusive dialogue with the democratic opposition and representatives of ethnic groups as well as to fully cooperate with the UN human rights and development mechanisms. All detainees and political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi, must be released.
Every effort should be used to prevent and alleviate human rights suffering. That is why the General Assembly, the primary organ for human rights and the only one with universal membership, should continue to deal with human rights issues on a substantial basis.
Norway pay tribute to the work of the High Commissioner and her office for the lead role they are playing in the mainstreaming of human rights throughout the UN. We also support the High Commissioner being invited to brief the Security Council, when appropriate.
We are now in the making of another two years budget cycle in the United Nations. We call on all Member States to honour their commitment from the High Level Summit in 2005 to strengthen the High Commissioner’s Office, taking note of the High Commissioner’s plan of action, through the doubling of the office regular budget resources within five years.
The human rights situation in Sudan is complex. The peace agreement between north and south has clear provisions for the improvement of human rights in the whole of Sudan. The new national government in Khartoum and the parliament have adopted several laws and provisions in this respect. We have seen a gradual opening of the press and media, a larger room for political activity and preparations for national multiparty elections. The war in Darfur has on the other hand had grave bearings on the human rights situation for the population in Western Sudan. It is imperative that UNAMID is deployed rapidly to Darfur to give improved security to those millions of civilians who suffer from the war. The new negotiations for Darfur in Libya must succeed in order to bring peace, justice, human rights and development to this part of the country.
With elections again postponed, Nepal's peace process is at a critical juncture. While deeply regretting this set back, we should not forget that the Nepali people have shown a formidable vision and will to transform from conflict to inclusive peace. The OHCHR played a vital and catalytic role in making this possible. It can do so again. The people of Nepal deeply desire peace, justice and the rule of law. We sincerely hope that political entrepreneurs will not be allowed to stray from their commitment to create a new and democratic Nepali society by letting this still open opportunity for positive change fail.
We have noted some recent legislative improvements in the penal code relating to basic human rights in North Korea. Nevertheless, we continue to call on the government to improve the grave human rights situation and the economic and social conditions of its citizens.
Every possible effort should be made to find political solutions that can stabilise the situation inside Iraq and put an end to conflict. The deteriorating humanitarian situation and the situation of the millions of internally displaced persons inside Iraq are of serious concern. While the international community should step up its effort, we expect full commitment from the Iraqi Government in improving the humanitarian situation in the country. Norway has increased its humanitarian assistance to Iraq and Iraqi refugees to USD 17 mill. this year.
Norway is concerned about the increasing suppression of civil society, limitation on the freedom of expression and the increase in the use of death penalty and executions in Iran. We consider the death penalty as a cruel and inhuman punishment and a violation of the right to life. In Iran we are particularly concerned about the barbaric methods which are used in the application of capital punishment.
Norway is pleased to note that the trend towards the worldwide abolition of the death penalty continues. It is of deep regret we learned of the recent execution of 15 people in Afghanistan. In cases where the death penalty is not abolished by law, Norway calls for a moratorium on its use.