Norway welcomes this opportunity to discuss the values of reconciliation, peace, freedom and racial equality in the spirit of Nelson Mandela. We thank the panelists for highlighting the importance of these core values in the promotion and protection of human rights.
Nelson Mandela’s work speaks convincingly to the many connections between human rights, peace and reconciliation.
Like him we are aware that peace – and the prevention and resolution of violent conflict – are important in order for human rights to be fully realized. And we have learned that peace is more sustainable when solutions respect human rights and allow for reconciliation and justice.
Experience has also demonstrated that there is a need to increase the role of women with regard to conflict prevention and resolution. Women must be fully included in efforts of reconstruction of society and in the realization of transitional justice goals, including promotion of the rule of law and accountability.
Norway is actively engaged in support for peace and reconciliation processes in different countries and regions – when requested by the parties involved and where we have the capacity to make a difference. We work together with others, and often with the UN.
Many times in our work in this field, we look to the example of Mandela. We are reminded of the fact that Mandela -- even while jailed for decades -- insisted upon recognizing his oppressors as human beings, in order to negotiate a peaceful end to apartheid oppression with them.
Like him, we see negotiated solutions as preferable to violence with its huge human costs, not least in terms of costs to human rights.
We also recognize that reconciliation and political solutions are the best way to achieve lasting peace.
We share Mandela’s belief that dialogue is central to peaceful resolution of conflicts. It is the main tool in our work on peace and reconciliation. Bringing together enemies, we encourage them to communicate even when they do not agree. In the words of Rabin as “you don’t make peace with your friends, you make peace with your enemy.”
Dialogue is at its most demanding in conflict. We talk to many actors with whom we disagree. Such dialogue can be misconstrued as legitimization, or acceptance of practices that we condemn. This is not the case.
It is important for us all to develop how we use dialogue. We must be clear on our values and our views. At the same time, dialogue for peace needs to be broadened and include both leaders and society more widely, another lesson from South Africa.
These processes require involvement at all levels. The engagement of individuals is essential, and human rights defenders play a key role. In conclusion, we believe that the core values of reconciliation, peace, freedom and racial equality are inseparable from the promotion and protection of human rights.