Norway welcomes the recent adoption in the Human Rights Council of a cross-regional initiative on freedom of association. The ability of individuals and groups freely to associate is a cornerstone in the promotion and protection of economic, social and cultural rights as well as of civil and political rights.
The establishment of a special rapporteur on freedom of association complements existing UN human rights special procedures. We look forward to the cooperation of all states with the new mandate.
In this regard, we are encouraged by the recent consensual approach developing in the Human Rights Council.
We reiterate our longstanding and firm opposition to the death penalty in all circumstances. While we are aware of the suffering of the victims of violent crime and their families, we strongly believe that capital punishment tends to further a casual attitude to the right to life – the most fundamental of all human rights.
It is an incontestable fact that in the application of the death penalty, any miscarriage of justice, which is inevitable in any legal system, is irreversible.
Again a resolution on a global moratorium on the use of death penalty will be presented for adoption in the General Assembly. We urge all member states to support the initiative.
The Universal Periodic Review process has, in our view, proven to be an unqualified success. The UPR allows governments and civil society a new and unique opportunity to focus on the human rights challenges all states face. It aims at establishing constructive cooperation between the country under review, other Member States, the United Nations and other stakeholders.
Its objective is not, however, to address urgent human rights situations. Four-year cycles of review are not suited for this purpose. We welcome, therefore, this opportunity to bring to the committee’s attention a number of country situations of concern.
Norway deeply regrets that there have been no observable changes regarding the human rights situation in Myanmar. We strongly call upon the regime to strengthen its dialogue and cooperation with the UN with the aim to improving the human rights situation.
We have been disappointed by the regime’s lacking effort to keep its promise of a free and fair process towards the 7 November elections. We repeat our call on the regime to lift restrictions on fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of assembly and freedom of the media. We strongly urge the immediate and unconditional release of human rights defenders, democracy activists and other political prisoners.
Norway is deeply concerned about the ongoing, systemic and serious violations of human rights in Iran. There is a general erosion of the rule of law, which manifests itself, inter alia, in arbitrary arrests and detentions, and denial of the right to a fair trial.
Human rights defenders, who play a key role in upholding the rule of law and respect for human rights, are facing an increasing risk of harassment and persecution.
We are gravely concerned by numerous reports of torture and ill-treatment in Iranian detention centres and prisons, especially in the aftermath of the 2009 presidential elections. We have witnessed increasing limitations on freedom of expression and of assembly.
We are also in particular concerned by reports of execution of minors and of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments which are in breach of Iran’s international obligations.
We would urge Iranian authorities to fully implement their standing invitation to the Special Procedures and to cooperate with the OHCHR.
The respect for fundamental human and political rights of all the Sudanese people is one of the key principles in Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Consistent and intensified efforts are needed in order to ensure that these principles are fully respected as we now approach the end of the interim period. The success of the planned 2011 referenda in Southern Sudan and Abyei is conditional on a stable and secure environment, a free press and freedom of speech and association. We urge national and local authorities in the north, south, and the Abyei area to ensure a political environment conducive to the successful organisation of the referenda.
Norway is deeply concerned with the human rights situation in The Palestinian Territory. As the Special Rapporteur points out in his report, the Israeli occupation itself is at the core of the issue, depriving the Palestinian population of its right to self-determination. We agree with his assertion that all other human rights derive from or are underpinned by the right to self-determination.
The direct talks launched on 2 September reached an impasse over Israel’s refusal to extend the settlement moratorium. It is Norway’s view that the only viable path towards securing the Palestinians’ right to self-determination is through negotiations, leading to the end of the occupation and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
Norway is concerned by the humanitarian situation in the DPRK, and the serious humanitarian needs of its people. Norway supports international humanitarian presence in the DPRK. It is essential to separate humanitarian issues from political issues.
The situation regarding food shortages and the significant reduction in the WFPs capabilities is of special concern. It is important that the regime takes steps to ensure that there is no disparity as regards to access to food, focusing on the needs of vulnerable groups.
Norway views cooperation with the UN’s various mechanisms and resources on human rights as fundamental. We acknowledge the DPRK’s participation in the UPR hearing last December. We encourage the regime to agree to the requests for visit by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK.
Norway welcomes the UN report of the mapping exercise documenting serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed in the Democratic Republic of Congo from 1993 to 2003. We hope the report can contribute to the efforts of the Government of the DRC to deal with obstacles to peaceful national coexistence as well as to fight impunity. We are pleased to note the positive response the report has received from the Congolese authorities and their expressed will to follow up on the crimes described therein.
We remain deeply concerned about the vulnerable situation of human rights defenders and journalists working in defence of human rights in DR Congo. We recommend that crimes and violations against these groups are effectively investigated and prosecuted, and that victims, witnesses and judicial personnel involved in human rights investigations and trials are protected.
In Afghanistan, Norway strongly supports an Afghan led reconciliation process, including talks with members of the armed opposition who are willing to renounce violence and resume a civilian life, as part of a viable broader Afghan political settlement. While the process of reintegrating these groups into Afghan society must be Afghan-led, the process must be based on the principle of inclusiveness and conducted in accordance with the Constitution and international human rights. Peace talks must not undermine human rights and justice. Effective reconciliation and durable peace require broad representation of religious, ethnic and civil society groups as well as the participation of women.
Thank you, Mr Chairman.