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Photo: Elisabeth Brinch Sand.Photo: Elisabeth Brinch Sand

Norway pledges continued strong support to UNHCR

Last updated: 01.10.2009 // In her statement to the "60th Session of the Executive Committee of the high Commissioner's Programme, Norwegian Deputy Foreign minister, Ms Gry Larsen, pledged continued Norwegian support to the office - both politically and financially. Among other matters she encouraged UNHCR to contribute towards a more predictable approach with regard to protection of IDPs in natural disasters. She also underlined the need for outreach and new alliances among states to confront the increasing challenges relating to humanitarian space and respect for IHL.

Read full statement.


Mr Chairman, The High Commissioner has given an excellent presentation of the factors affecting global displacement. He has shown a complex picture of already vulnerable people who are being exposed to a variety of global challenges.

No one can prepare for all possible challenges. However, it is important that we fully understand the dynamics of modern displacement. This is why Norway encourages UNHCR to continue to take the lead in analysing the likely human displacement scenarios caused by climate change and to identify legal and operational gaps.

Based on sound knowledge and analysis, we must all do our utmost to prevent, prepare for and respond to new situations of displacement. These are key elements in the Norwegian humanitarian policy.

Our Government’s mandate was renewed two weeks ago – when the sitting coalition won the Norwegian election – and I can assure you that our commitment in this field therefore will remain strong.

Mr Chairman, We commend the High Commissioner on his determination to defend humanitarian space and humanitarian principles. On our part, we will continue to work for greater protection of civilians under international humanitarian law – indeed this was the subject of the second Trygve Lie Symposium hosted by Foreign Minister Støre in New York last week.

As we commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions, there is great need for new alliances and partnerships with a view to enhancing implementation of International Humanitarian Law. We call on all EXCOM members to contribute towards this.

A most positive development with regard to IDP protection is the African Union Convention, expected to be adopted at the upcoming AU summit in Uganda. We pay tribute to the AU, its member states and in particular the host of the event, the Government of Uganda. Norway is happy to support this initiative financially, and we encourage UNHCR to do its part in promoting the ratification of the Convention.

Mr Chairman, Just a few months ago, three million IDPs were on the move in northwest Pakistan. UNHCR, in close cooperation with the Government of Pakistan and civil society, protected and assisted these IDPs under very difficult conditions. A major humanitarian crisis was probably averted.

However, there are other stories of lost opportunities and failure to take action. I need only mention Sri Lanka, northern Uganda, Sudan and the Central African Republic. Here, we encourage UNHCR to step up efforts. At the same time, we reiterate the need for continued strengthening of in-house capacity on IDPs.

As the frequency and severity of natural disasters seem to be increasing, the gap in leadership regarding protection of IDPs following natural disasters remains a matter of concern.

We encourage UNHCR, in collaboration with UNICEF and OHCHR, to ensure a more predictable approach in this field, while retaining the required flexibility. At the operational level, we fully support UNHCR in taking on responsibility as a provider of last resort.

On refugee situations, we take the opportunity to pay tribute to host governments around the world for their patience and generosity in providing protection to those in need. Without their hospitality, refugee protection would be a hollow shell.

Although challenging, it is important that internationally agreed minimum standards relating to care and maintenance for refugees are met. In this regard, we call on the government of Kenya to act swiftly and decisively towards allocation of more land for Somali refugees in Dadaab. Such a move would be both extremely helpful and greatly appreciated.

Mr Chairman, As should be well known, gender, is a key priority for the Norwegian Government. We therefore encourage UNHCR to maintain a strong focus on gender within its broader age, gender and diversity mainstreaming efforts. In particular, we call on UNHCR, together with other UN agencies, to multiply efforts to implement UN Security Council resolutions 1325 and 1820.

Despite these resolutions, there has been little improvement in the protection of women on the ground. In other words, we must do more and better. In this regard, Norway expects UNHCR to strengthen the systematic profiling of groups of concern in order to acquire more disaggregated data on gender.

Mr. Chairman, With the structural changes now being concluded, it is time for consolidation, and not least, adjustments to UNHCR’s culture. We wish the High Commissioner, his renewed senior management team and the entire staff every success in this important endeavour.

We are also pleased to see that the new budget structure is being implemented. Norway remains committed to maintaining substantive, un-earmarked funding to UNHCR – and we encourage other member states to do the same.

Allow me to conclude by presenting Norway’s condolences to UNHCR for staff who have recently been killed while serving the organisation. Our thoughts also go to their friends and families.

Finally, we pay tribute to all UNHCR’s dedicated staff who are increasingly exposed to safety risks in various field locations. They are true heroes – and they have our full sympathy and support. Thank you.

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