Statement delivered by Ambassador Johan Løvald in the General Assembly on April 6-8th 2005
In Larger Freedom provides a well balanced and comprehensive basis for making the necessary decisions to strengthen the UN at the Summit in September. It is an excellent basis for our deliberations and discussions. In addition to the consultations here in New York, our capitals must be involved at the highest political level in order to achieve the results that are needed.
We have a unique opportunity to take decisive steps towards the implementation of the Millennium Declaration, including the MDGs, and at the same time ensure a safer and more secure world. We need a reformed UN in order to strengthen our collective capacity to deal with the multifaceted security situation in the world today and to be effective partners in development. Changes are required to ensure the continued relevance of the UN in development activities.
Development, human rights and security are mutually reinforcing. In general we welcome the increased focus on human rights. The current human rights machinery is in need of reform, and we welcome efforts to elevate the position of human rights in the UN system. More emphasis should be placed on technical co-operation at country level in order to achieve practical results. We note with great interest the initiative to establish a human rights council to make our efforts in this field more relevant and effective. We welcome the intention to enable a permanent body to more effectively address evolving human rights situations. However, there is a clear need to develop this idea further for us to be able to conclude that this is preferable to a Human Rights Commission with universal membership.
There will be no peace without development, and no development without peace. It is vital to develop the organisation's capability and capacity for preventive action. It is Norway’s view that steps should be taken to strengthen the SG’s role and capacity in preventive diplomacy. The good offices of the Secretary-General can play an even more important role in mediation efforts to end conflict.
The international community must agree on a more consistent and coherent approach to peacebuilding. The proposal to establish a Peacebuilding Commission could be a step in the right direction. However, the mandate, organisation and function of the Commission must be clarified. We look forward to further proposals from the SG in this respect.
We support the proposal to establish a Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO). The main purpose should be to ensure more coherent planning and operational peacebuilding capacities within the UN. The operational functions of a PBSO should have priority over secretariat services for the Peacebuilding Commission.
The current discrepancy between what the members of the UN task the organisation to do and what they contribute financially needs to be addressed. Increasingly complex peacekeeping mandates need to be matched by increased funding - ideally in the form of assessed contributions, or at least more predictably than today. The proposal for a Peacebuilding Fund could assist in this respect if it is properly mandated and widely supported with the necessary resources.
When a State ignores its responsibilities towards its population, the international community must not remain passive. The international community has a responsibility to use diplomatic, humanitarian and other means to help protect the human rights of civilian populations. When such means are not sufficient, the Security Council has the responsibility to take action under the UN Charter, with authority, with efficiency, and without hesitation in situations of mass atrocity. We endorse the Secretary General’s appeal to embrace the principle of ”Responsibility to Protect” as a norm for our collective actions in cases of genocide, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. We need to build greater consensus around the need for collective action and early diplomatic response, which can eliminate the need for military intervention.
Reform is needed to ensure the authority, legitimacy and efficiency of the Security Council. Expansion of the Council is necessary, but Norway has some concerns with both models referred to in the Secretary-General’s report. We have doubts about the viability of the new regional election groups that form the basis for both models. This will make it much more difficult for smaller countries to be elected, even countries that contribute substantially to the UN and make the largest voluntary contributions. The issue of Security Council expansion could possibly be dealt with in a separate process, perhaps in several stages.
The need to improve the humanitarian response system is another key element in the Secretary-General’s report, especially as regards response capacity, funding, and the right of access and security for humanitarian personnel. We share the Secretary-General’s goal of a more predictable humanitarian response in all emergencies, and hope that his report and the comprehensive expert review to be finalised this summer will contribute to concrete improvements. Norway will continue to support the strengthening of field co-ordination structures, including the leadership of the Humanitarian Co-ordinator and the role of the country teams, which, where appropriate, should include all Inter-Agency Standing Committee members.
The need for more predictable funding raises a number of complex issues. It would be preferable, in our view, to build on existing mechanisms like the Central Emergency Revolving Fund (CERF) to ensure available funds for rapid disbursement in order to avoid delays in acute emergency situations. The challenge of providing sufficient funds for an adequate international response to all humanitarian needs, including forgotten emergencies, disaster preparedness, etc., should be addressed in the broader perspective of the need to increase the total volume of donor contributions. It goes beyond the more technical task of setting up a fund, even one of such impressive proportions.
We agree with the basic premise that further joint efforts to meet the MDGs must be based on the Monterrey consensus. Simultaneous efforts in many fields are required to reach the MDGs – on the domestic side national development strategies, strengthened governance, the rule of law, and measures for combating corruption and securing resource mobilisation. These are all areas that would benefit from the participation of civil society and the private sector.
Simultaneous efforts in many fields include resource mobilization and increased ODA. We welcome the renewed focus on the 0.7 per cent of ODA target. We urge all creditors to support the call for intensified debt relief, while not jeopardising the long-term viability of the International Financial Institutions. The increasing number of countries that are working hard to create an enabling environment to meet the MDGs deserve support and positive feedback. Other developing countries may still need the support and attention of the international community and the UN.
To make sure that national planning are substantiated by more predictable funding, we would encourage donors to make predictable multi-year pledges. More predictable funding of UN operational activities should be pursued. This will facilitate better planning and results at field level. We want to ensure the continued relevance of the UN in development activities. The UN needs to join forces with other donors in broader undertakings, and harmonise and align its programmes with national strategies.
We welcome the focus on gender equality in development issues, but would also like to see a focus on gender equality and the role of women in efforts to promote peace and conflict resolution.
We support the importance of gender equality and access to sexual and reproductive health services both as a critical need for women’s empowerment and as a component of strong public health systems, as highlighted in the report. We support the recommendation on access to reproductive health and stress the need for the decision makers in September to reiterate the crucial importance of universal access to reproductive health by 2015. This is necessary in order to improve the appalling state of maternal health and reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS as well as to contribute to women’s empowerment.
We are also pleased to note that environmental issues are well included. As shown by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment report, the increasing pressure on the ecosystems we all depend on is putting the MDGs at risk.
We have before us a package of necessary reforms that in general enjoy the solid support of the UN membership. In spite of substantive agreement in the General Assembly, we too often experience that the implementation of these important decisions is blocked or heavily modified when the budgetary implications are dealt with in the ACABQ and the Fifth Committee. We urge Member States to follow up their engagement in the debate leading up to the Summit with a similar commitment in the Fifth Committee to ensure that what we agree on actually becomes the new reality for the UN.
We support the Secretary-General’s proposals for administrative reforms. We frequently see that Member States are able to micro-manage the Secretariat through the Fifth Committee. No management can be effective under such circumstances. We should aim at limiting our management of the Secretariat to giving it broad guidelines, and in return demand transparency, accountability and tougher audits.
Finally, Mr President, Norway wishes to pledge its full support to you as the President of the General Assembly as you now take on the crucial task of leading us through consultations concerning the outcome document to be endorsed at the highest level in September. We also support your repeated statements concerning the need for transparency and openness. This is a crucial year for our organisation. We cannot afford to fail. And we must remain ambitious.
This is a time for all Member States to pull together.