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Norway is a steadfast defender of human rights and gender equality

Martin Sørby, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Norway

By Martin Sørby, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Norway to the Kingdom of The Netherlands.

International cooperation is crucial to Norway’s security, economy and prosperity. Human rights and gender equality lie at the core of Norwegian society – and the Norwegian Government’s foreign policy. 

Our values require us ensure that all people are able to live in freedom and security, regardless of where they are and to stand up against hateful and discriminatory behaviour. Putting human rights and gender equality at the forefront of our efforts is key to reaching these goals.

The world is facing a number of challenges that are too great and complex for any one country to tackle alone. These must be addressed through joint efforts. Effective international cooperation is needed to address challenges such as climate change, marine litter and new security threats. 

Until recently, it has been easier to take international cooperation for granted, but now we see that states are less inclined to turn to multilateral organisations to solve common challenges through compromise and cooperation. The world has become less predictable, and there is a need to work in a slightly different way in order to safeguard Norwegian, as well as global, interests. 

Multilateral organisations are our first line of defence. We must prioritise strengthening the institutions that matter the most to our security, economy and welfare – such as the UN, the WTO and NATO. We must defend what we have. This involves strengthening the institutions that are already established, rather than developing new, competing organisations.

As a long-standing partner of the United Nations with a record of consistency in supporting human rights and peaceful negotiations, we are ready to again take our turn in the United Nations Security Council in 2021-2022.

The fundamental principle of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – to leave no one behind – strikes at the very core of the fundamental principles of human rights; namely, non-discrimination, equal rights and dignity. By respecting human rights, states will also take a major step towards implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.

Countries that deny women their rights, deny their societies prosperity. We know that investment in girls and women has a positive effect on productivity, sustainable economic growth and efforts to eradicate poverty. Females make up half of society. If a girl is illiterate, it means a society is incomplete and missing out on opportunities.

The participation of women helps to ensure that the results of decision-making processes are more legitimate and that the needs and priorities of a greater share of the population are being taken into account. Increasing the participation of women is thus not only important in itself; it also increases the chances of securing lasting prosperity and development.

The SheDecides movement believes in the fundamental right of every girl and every woman – everywhere – to make decisions about her body, her life and her future. The Norwegian Government is committed to a world where SheDecides. SheDecides conveys a positive message of empowerment, agency and a comprehensive,integrated approach to health and sexuality. Violence and discrimination against girls and women is not cultural; it is criminal.

This year, 2020, marks 20 years since the establishment of the United Nations Women, Peace and Security mandate. Notwithstanding two decades of concerted efforts by UN organisations and partners to address sexual violence in conflicts, this mandate continues to be deployed as part of a broader strategy towards conflicts that severely affect women, men, girls and boys – and society as a whole. 

I have promoted the agenda for Women, Peace and Security consistently with partners here in The Hague, including the Head Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and the organisation Gender for Justice. The latter presented in December last year  The Hague Principles on Sexual Violence – Translating the lived experience of sexual violence survivors into law and policy. This month, we will also organise an event addressing this topic, focusing on the UN’s peacekeeping operations and work to prevent and combat sexual violence in conflicts.

As the Norwegian Ambassador to the Netherlands and as a Gender Champion, I am strongly devoted and committed to my Government’s efforts to promote multilateral institutions by putting human rights and gender equality at the forefrontof our efforts.  

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