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Item 2 - General debate

Last updated: 18.06.2012 // Item 2. Update by the High Commissioner followed by General debate. Statement by Ambassador Kongstad, Norway.

Madam President,

Let me start by congratulating the High Commissioner for the extension of her appointment as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. This is a tribute to her principled, transparent and timely responses to human rights challenges all over the world.  We wish her continued success during her extended tenure.

Madam President,

We support the call by the High Commissioner to the international community on Syria. It is difficult to describe the situation as anything else than a civil war.  A special responsibility rests with the Syrian authorities and President Assad. The Syrian regime must be held accountable for the gross violations against its own population.

Furthermore, the supply of weapons, both to the regime and the opposition, has led to another turn of the spiral of violence.  Norway regrets that the UN Security Council has not been able to act resolutely and make clear, unambiguous decisions that put pressure on the parties.

Norway urges the Government of Syria to change course immediately.

We share the High Commissioners concerns about laws and bills restricting freedom of expression and assembly for sexual minorities. We continue to support the work of the OHCHR in this area and encourage states, civil society and other stakeholders alike to engage in a broad dialogue to strengthen common understanding and recognition of the human rights of sexual minorites and fight against the violence, harassment and discrimination experienced by LGBTI-persons in all parts of the world.

Madam President,

Around the world, people are increasingly demanding the fulfillment of the fundamental rights set out in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the international human rights conventions. This underlines the need to strengthen the third pillar upon which the United Nations was founded.

This is an important perspective when heads of State and ministers are meeting next week in Rio. We applaud the High Commissioner’s efforts to advocate the clear link between human rights and sustainable development. Without explicit human rights safeguards, policies intended to advance environmental or development goals can have serious unintended negative impacts.

The human rights perspective also needs to be more effectively integrated into UN policies. This is particularly relevant to the quadrennial comprehensive policy review and the post-2015 development agenda.  Norway is ready to support the High Commissioner and her office to move the principles into realities.

We also reiterate our support to the multi-stakeholder process the High Commissioner has initiated to strengthen the treaty body system. Norway hopes for clear guidance by the High Commissioner on how to ensure a more predictable, visible and effective treaty body system in a manner which is sustainable also in terms of resources.

Madam President,

The challenge facing the treaty bodies is also an illustration of the resource situation of the OHCHR. The expectations and requirements for the OHCHR’s engagement are steadily increasing, reflecting global political trends, regional developments and the demonstrated positive impact of the office’ efforts in the field. It is imperative that we work together to secure a sustainable resource base for the important work of the High Commissioner and her office. We need a comprehensive and balanced approach, with commitment from all stakeholders. We look forward to work with the High Commissioner in this effort.

Thank you.

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