Let me start by thanking the High Commissioner for her highly relevant and comprehensive statement.
The High Commissioner and her office have proved their capability to deliver as human rights have become increasingly relevant to peace and security, development and humanitarian efforts. When the High Commissioner now is beginning her second term, we believe that she and her office will be facing three main challenges:
Firstly, increasing need for principled, transparent and timely responses to the many human rights challenges all over the world:
- In this regard we support her strong defence for human rights defenders and her principled condemnations of governments that fail in their responsibility to protect and that rather use extreme force against its civilian population, like we are presently witnessing in Syria.
- We commend the High Commissioner’s timely denunciation of capital punishment and the sudden spate of executions in countries around the world, including in Gambia, Iraq and South Sudan.
- We concur with the view that it is necessary to step up the defence of minorities, be they minorities of religion and belief, ethnic background, sexual orientation or gender identity. In our times of great societal changes in many countries and regions of the world, minorities are particularly exposed and subject to discrimination, violence, hate and oppression.
- We commend the High Commissioners continuous efforts to monitor and create larger space for defence of the rights of indigenous peoples on the UN agenda.
The second main challenge is the need to strengthen the third pillar upon which the United Nations was founded as a means to move principles into realities.
This requires leadership from the very top of the UN system, including targeted efforts to implement the UN Guiding principles for Business and Human Rights within the UN programs and agencies, to secure gender sensitive design and women’s rights in UN programs and policies, and in integrating human rights perspectives in the on-going quadrennial comprehensive policy review and the post-2015 development agenda.
The third main challenge is to strengthen the field presence of the OHCHR with a clear focus on where the office can add value and has comparative advantage. Around the world, the demand for technical assistance is intensifying. OHCHRs efforts to facilitate positive change at country level can already demonstrate significant results. Now the challenge is to continue the roll-out and strengthen the impact of these efforts, based on cooperation with other UN agencies and bilateral donors.
These three challenges are not easy. We are, in this regard, pleased that the High Commissioner addressed the challenging resource situation of her office. We need a comprehensive and balanced approach to establish a more sustainable resourcing of OHCHR over the coming years, with commitment from all stakeholders, and without infringing on the independence of the High Commissioner.
Norway is ready to support the High Commissioner and her office to meet these three challenges and move principles into realities.