Priorities for Norway at the UN General Assembly 2013

The 68th session of the UN General Assembly will open with high-level meetings from 23 to 28 September. The Norwegian delegation will be led by the Prime Minister, and will include several representatives from the Government.

 

Key items on the programme are the special event on the Millennium Development Goals, the high-level meeting on disability and development,  and the Trygve Lie Symposium, which this year will focus on hate crime and hate speech. There will also be a high-level meeting on nuclear disarmament and a high-level dialogue on international migration and development.

At this year’s General Assembly, Norway will attach particular importance to human rights, equitable distribution of resources and opportunities, women’s rights and gender equality as cross-cutting considerations. Norway will continue to play an active role to promote UN modernisation and making the organisation more effective, and to promote a strengthening of the UN’s role as guardian of international peace and security, law and justice, human rights, humanitarian principles and sustainable development. Norway will play a leading role in work on the resolutions on human rights defenders, on the internally displaced and on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

The UN General Assembly is the world’s largest and most important international meeting place, and the Norwegian delegation will participate in several bilateral and multilateral meetings during the week of high-level meetings, including a meeting in the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) for assistance to the Palestinians 

General priorities for Norway
The Government’s general priorities for Norway’s UN engagement are set out various official documents, in particular the policy platform for the coalition Government for the period 2009–13 and the recent white papers on Norway and the United Nations (Meld. St. 33 (2011–2012)) and on fair distribution (Meld. St. 25 (2012–2013)). 

Peace and security
We will continue our engagement to strengthen the UN’s capacity to prevent and resolve armed conflicts, and we will promote long-term peacebuilding through UN-led operations. The gender perspective is to be clearly integrated into Norwegian peace efforts, and women’s participation in mediation and in consolidating peace processes will be emphasised. Norway will continue to play an active role in promoting the various Security Council resolutions and open debates on thematic issues such as women, peace and security, sexual violence, children in armed conflict and the protection of civilians. Norway will also continue its engagement to promote the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) norm.  

The UN’s response to the situation in Mali, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, and Syria will be given priority. Norway will continue to seek out and explore possible ideas for promoting reform of the composition of the Security Council. At the same time, we will work to bring about a more transparent, efficient and effective Security Council, in part by participating in the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency (ACT) group of UN member states, which aims to improve the working methods of the UN Security Council. In this group, we have taken particular responsibility for following up the Security Council’s efforts in the area of preventive diplomacy. 

Norway will continue its efforts to enhance the relevance of the UN Peacebuilding Commission at country level. We will continue our engagement to revitalise the UN’s multilateral disarmament machinery, with particular emphasis on combating the unacceptable humanitarian harm caused by certain types of weapons. We will follow up the Oslo conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons. We will also draw attention to this issue during the high-level meeting on nuclear disarmament, and follow it up by supporting the implementation of the Programme of Action for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which was adopted at the Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 2010. It is Norway’s intention and goal that the NPT, which has the total elimination of nuclear weapons as its main objective, should be extended. Norway will also work to promote the implementation of the new Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). 

Norway will support initiatives to improve the effectiveness of UN peacekeeping operations, in which military, police and civilian personnel serve together. We will 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. We will also highlight the importance of the UN taking a more integrated approach to security challenges such as transnational crime, terrorism and piracy.

UN development activities, sustainable development, the Millennium Development Goals and new development goals
As a major contributor to UN development activities, Norway will work to ensure that the UN takes a more coherent approach to development at country level and to a greater extent is able to deliver results and document their impact. 

We will continue to clearly express our expectations of the UN development organisations. The UN’s efforts at country level must be coordinated better through robust systems and clear leadership (the “One UN” model).

Norway will continue to play a leading role in efforts to achieve all the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. We will also continue to actively address the challenges arising from climate change and the need for sound natural resource management. It is crucial that the UN and UN member states give their clear support to renewed efforts to achieve the MDGs, while at the same time looking to the future and to a new set of global development goals after 2015, for which sustainable development and human rights should be cross-cutting issues. We will give special priority to promoting fair distribution, women’s rights and gender equality, global health, climate-friendly energy and access to energy. Reducing child mortality and improving maternal health will continue to be priority areas for Norway, as will universal access to health services. We will place particular emphasis on the Secretary-General’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative, not least through the UN Decade of Sustainable Energy for All (2014–2024). 

Following up the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) is a key part of efforts to develop new global development goals. Norway will strive to ensure that the work taking place in the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals is coordinated with other efforts, and that the new development goals uphold the decision made at Rio that the goals are to apply to all countries. Furthermore, Norway will work actively to ensure that each of the new goals developed reflects the three dimensions of sustainable development (environmental, economic and social development). Norway will also seek to ensure that the UN’s new high-level political forum on sustainable development, which is due to have its first meeting in September 2013, becomes a key instrument in the efforts to achieve sustainable development.   

Women’s rights and gender equality
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. Norway will support the normative role that UN Women plays internationally, while also advocating that the issues of women’s rights and gender equality are mainstreamed into the development efforts of UN funds, programmes and specialised agencies. Although gender equality is a goal in itself, the macroeconomic benefits of greater equality must also be highlighted. 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 coming under increasing pressure in UN forums, and this is particularly the case for sexual and reproductive health and rights. Norge will therefore work systematically to address this issue, including by building new alliances. Women’s political and economic participation and influence will be given priority. 

Humanitarian issues
Norway will seek to ensure that humanitarian principles are adhered to and that international humanitarian law is respected, in order to ensure that civilians are protected and humanitarian actors have unimpeded access to people in need. Greater focus is needed on the individual responsibility of every country to prevent and address humanitarian crises, and Norway will also work to ensure that the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the UN humanitarian system gain a broader range of supporters and partners, including UN member states, regional organisations and the private sector. At the same time, Norway will continue to be one of the UN’s closest supporters and partners in responding to humanitiarian crises. We will also continue to call for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the international humanitarian system to be made more effective, and for the World Humanitarian Summit 2015 to promote more effective and inclusive humanitarian efforts. 

Human rights
Norway will lead the negotiations on the resolution on human rights defenders,  and will work to achieve a substantially strengthened resolution that enjoys broad support. Norway will also lead the negotiations on the resolution on internally displaced persons. 

At this year’s General Assembly, Norway will seek greater support for the resolution on the human rights situation in Iran, and it will advocate a constructive approach to the annual resolution on Myanmar, in light of the positive political developments in the country. Norway will continue to work actively towards securing resolutions on the human rights situation in Syria and North Korea. Moreover, Norway will provide active support for Denmark’s resolution on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, 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. 

Depending on the conclusions from the intergovernmental process to strengthen the treaty body system, Norway will seek to ensure that the Nordic resolutions on the human rights treaty bodies for the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), for the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and for the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights are adopted by consensus. If all the resolutions on the human rights treaty bodies are combined into a single resolution, Norway will participate actively in the negotiations on this resolution. If the resolutions continue to be dealt with separately, Norway (in accordance with the Nordic system of rotation) will lead the work on CEDAW and will also support Finland in its work on the Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Efforts to promote freedom of expression and combat religious intolerance, racism and hate speech will have high priority, and Norway will play an active role in negotiations and resolutions on these issues. Hate crime and hate speech against minorities is the topic of this year’s Trygve Lie Symposium. 

Norway’s leading role in the core group for the promotion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LHBT) rights will be continued. The Norwegian delegation will participate actively in negotiations on relevant resolutions relating to women’s rights and gender equality. Norway will give priority to interactive dialogues with UN Special Representatives and oppose attempts to undermine their independence and integrity.   

Norway will take an active part in negotiations on issues relating to indigenous peoples in the lead-up to the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, to be held in 2014.  We will also work to ensure that indigenous peoples are represented in the process leading up to the conference, and during the conference itself. Moreover, we will work to ensure civil society participation in UN processes. 

UN leadership and budget
Norway will intensify its efforts to promote a modern UN that takes a performance-based approach. In order to achieve this, reforms and efficiency-improving measures are needed within the organisation, while at the same time the UN needs to demonstrate its worth in the form of results achieved. Norway is supporting the Secretary-General’s five-year action agenda for his second term in office. We will continue to work to improve coordination of the UN’s efforts at country level, and to ensure the better protection of UN personnel. The UN’s administrative system and core resources need to be commensurate with the mandate it has been given. The UN’s main contributors are putting the organisation’s core budget under intense pressure. The General Assembly’s attempts to micromanage the organisation and its opposition to many proposed reforms make it difficult for the UN to satisfy calls for it to reduce costs and improve efficiency. 

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 measurement 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, through consultation processes, negotiations and dialogue with key developing countries, through follow-up of the recommendations of the UN Panel on System-wide Coherence, work on integrated peace operations and humanitarian reform, and through efforts to promote the inclusion of civil society and the private sector. 

Promotion of justice and international law
Issues relating to the law of the sea and fisheries have high priority, including the efforts to strengthen and further develop the Convention on the Law of the Sea. In the fisheries sector, food security, bottom fishing and the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing will continue to be priority issues. As far as issues relating to the law of the sea are concerned, Norway’s priorities will include the work taking place in the Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group to study issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction. Other priority topics will include ensuring the legitimacy and efficiency of the work being carried out by the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, measures to promote capacity building in developing countries, combating piracy, and the efforts to develop binding rules for shipping in polar waters (the Polar Code) under the auspices of the International Maritime Organization (IMO). 

Following up the High-level Meeting on the Rule of Law will be a key issue for Norway. Given the overarching and interdisciplinary nature of this issue, it is crucial that the High-level Meeting is followed up in a plenary session of the General Assembly rather than in the Sixth Committee. 

The efforts to combat impunity and strengthen international criminal law will continue to be given priority, partly with a view to 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. 

Norway will support the UN in the implementation of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, and will also participate actively in the work leading up to the Review Conference in June 2014. We will work to ensure that the protection of human rights is mainstreamed into all four key areas of action 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. Norway will promote measures to combat transnational organised crime and the illegal drugs trade and their negative impact on development and stability.

 

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