Commemorative session of the Human Rights Council on the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – Norwegian intervention
The historical circumstances that gave rise to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were unique, but they have in no way lost their relevance. Serious human rights abuses are being reported everyday from all over the world - 60 years after the Declaration’s unprecedented call for human rights for all.
At national level, we have celebrated the 60th anniversary of the UDHR throughout this year with an enhanced focus on human rights in the Norwegian Parliament, public debates, media, universities and schools. Respect for human rights is one of the fundamental values underpinning Norwegian society.
Protecting and promoting human rights is also a cornerstone of Norwegian Foreign Policy.
Norway believes that a sound, robust foreign policy can only be developed through dialogue, and this also applies to the Norwegian policy on human rights. We are therefore dependent on an open and comprehensive dialogue with relevant stakeholders.
Many would agree when I claim that a world where more than 1 billion people live in extreme poverty is the greatest human rights challenge of our time. This is why – in the year of the 60th anniversary of the UDHR - my government has decided to increase our official development assistance to 1% of GNI, starting from next year.
With this, we strengthen our contribution to poverty eradication and to the realisation of the right to food, water, health and education for all. The realization of the Millennium Development Goals at country level will not be possible without making the human rights instruments, including the covenants and the conventions, an integral part of our efforts. By pursuing a human rights perspective we emphasize the rights of the poor and the responsibility of states to promote development based on the principles of participation, non-discrimination, empowerment and accountability.
Human rights are indivisible and interdependent. In places where women and men are not allowed to speak out and participate in the governance of their country, poverty eradication and an equitable distribution of wealth is unlikely.
Furthermore, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the UDHR the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a publication entitled “Reflections on Human Rights”, where these issues are discussed by, among others, Norwegian scholar and former Chairman of the UN Working Group on Minorities, professor Asbjørn Eide. The publication was launched by the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs celebrating the anniversary of UDHR at Norway’s second largest university.
To analyse the challenges facing us today, we invited key politicians, academics and representatives from civil society to share their expertise and knowledge in the field of human rights. Their written contributions add substantive inputs to the Foreign Ministry’s policy-making process and are now shared with a broader audience both at home and abroad .
The publication addresses challenges as how democracy and human rights can ensure freedom from hunger, in what ways human rights matters for businesses; and how a focus on the rights to land and related economic resources can make a difference for poor women in Africa, to name a few. Among the contributors are internationl experts like Agnes Callamard, Martin Scheinin, Yakin Ertürk and Paul van Zyl .
The publication is offered free of charge and will shortly be distributed to all missions in Geneva and New York. We are also happy to provide copies to anyone interested.