Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide on how we are to increase the protection of civilians in armed conflict.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
- I have the great pleasure to welcome you all to this reception at the National Opera House in Oslo.
- Let me start by thanking our co-chairs from Argentina, Austria, Indonesia and Uganda, for the good cooperation we have had today, and for the good consultations we have had in the regional meetings leading up to this conference. I am very glad to hear that this has been a very good first day of the conference. Thank you also to the excellent panellists, and to all participants, for your contribution to making this a very good start of the conference.
- Let me again say that this is an issue close to my heart – and to Norway. We strongly believe in a world that is better organized, we believe that we can improve international law, and that it is possible to improve and enhance the respect for international law, including the human rights and the international humanitarian law.
- A very important point for us is that it is no legal void. We have the human rights regulations. We have excellent rules, and we should actually be proud in the way the international community have been able to make new rules and new regulations. Even for the darkest moments – for war – for how to conduct conflicts – there are laws on which wars are allowed and which are not.
- But we are here – the conference is about how international conflicts can be conducted in accordance with international humanitarian law, how civilians should be protected, and how we should enhance the understanding of this highly important issue.
- This is a very important work and we need to work together. Therefore I am so glad that we have 90 states present, and a lot of engaged local and global organisations, who really care about these issues. We want to strengthen the rules and we want to make sure that the rules apply. And the fact that we today have been able to be practical, to come up with ideas; this is so important in order to move ahead.
- So, the conference's theme is important; how we are to increase the protection of civilians in armed conflict is a matter that must be urgently addressed. I am very glad to note the high level of engagement by so many – and for the many good views and thoughts on how to address the challenges ahead.
- Now, to something completely different. – We are here at the Oslo Opera House, the now internationally well-known building, the pride of our city. – Some facts: Opened five years ago, in April 2008, designed by the now famous architects of "Snøhetta" of Norway, it cost NOK 4.3 billion (within the budget!), built by workers from more than 50 nations, with white marble stones from Italy (Carrera) and solid oak from Germany and Poland, among other things.
- Today, 603 people work here every day, they sing, dance, write, play, plan, think, serve food or build, they represent 42 nations, and more than 50 professions are put together – a very international institution. The building contains more than 1.000 rooms and covers 38.500 m2 in total. And, you'll find Norway's biggest solar panel on the roof. – Fascinating?
- It is really good to have you all here and I really hope this building will give you inspiration for tomorrow's work.
- Now, I have the pleasure to introduce "Barnekoret" – their correct name in English is "The Norwegian National Opera Children`s Chorus". The choir marked their 10 years anniversary last year, they perform regularly at opera and ballet shows here at the Norwegian National Opera. The members are between 7 and 16 years old, and I'll finally like to add that the choir takes an important part of the development of young talents at the opera. Now, here they come – listen to "Bruremarsj (bridal song) from Valsøyfjord".