Jubilee for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Speech by Prime Minister Erna Solberg at a seminar dedicated to celebrating the jubilee for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Mexico City, 13 April 2018.

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State Secretary Miguel Ruiz Cabañas,

Ladies and gentlemen.

It is a great honor for me to open this seminar, dedicated to celebrating the jubilee for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

I have just come from CAFEMIN, a shelter in Mexico City providing assistance to migrants and refugees.

I was very impressed by the sisters and the many volunteers who work there.

Visiting the shelter underlined the importance of international cooperation and burden sharing relating to issues involving migration and refugees.

International cooperation is equally important when it comes to the promotion and protection of human rights. 

And 2018 is indeed a significant year for our international cooperation on human rights.

First, I would like to look back for a moment to 1948.

When the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The aim was to make sure that the atrocities of the Second World War would never happen again.

The Declaration's 70th anniversary year is an opportunity to celebrate the progress that has been made during this period.

We should be proud that extreme poverty has been halved since 1990.

Seventy years ago, when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was drafted, Eleanor Roosevelt was the only woman at the table.

Today, the participation of women in national and global governance is normal. 

However, there are still great differences between countries and regions.

Global education for girls is still an issue that requires urgent effort.

This is something that I am deeply committed to.

Substantial progress has also been made in relation to the death penalty.

Despite the high numbers of death sentences and executions in several countries, more than two thirds of all countries have now abolished the death penalty by law or in practice.

I would like to thank Mexico for its active participation in the 6th World Congress Against the Death Penalty, which was held in Oslo in 2016.

We are closer than ever before to achieving the long-term goal of global abolition.

We have also gained a deeper understanding of what human rights for all entails.

Two examples in this respect are the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006) and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples (2007).

Yet, the promise of equality and non-discrimination is still a distant hope for many.

The vast majority of LGBTI people in the world continue to be at risk of violence, including torture and killings. 

Close to 47 000 women die every year as a result of unsafe abortions, and 225 million girls and women do not have access to contraceptives.

We must therefore work harder to promote and protect sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Protecting freedom of expression and independent media is an important, long-term priority for the Norwegian Government.

Journalists have a key role to play in safeguarding democracy and freedom.

They give us vital information.

They act as watchdogs, and help to ensure transparency and accountability in public affairs.

It is unacceptable that so many journalists worldwide face threats, harassment and attacks, simply for doing their job.

The UN Action Plan on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity provides an important framework for this work.

We would welcome closer cooperation with Mexico on efforts to improve the safety of journalists and to end impunity.

The three pillars of the UN – human rights, peace and security, and development – are closely linked and mutually reinforcing.

However, the human rights pillar is not getting the attention it deserves.

Norway believes that promoting human rights has to be at the heart of the Secretary-General’s agenda for UN reform.

Together we must build alliances to uphold the values and ideals that we believe in.

One example is the UN70 initiative to strengthen the United Nations. Both our countries are involved in this effort.

Human right defenders all over the world are showing impressive courage every day – often in the face of great risk.

They are an inspiration to us all and they give us hope.

They deserve our wholehearted support.

I am very pleased that we achieved consensus on a strong UN resolution on protection of human rights defenders last year.

I would like to thank Mexico for its long-standing support for this work.

Let me conclude by reminding us all of the principle, on which the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all subsequent human rights instruments are based:

‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.’

70 years on, these words are as powerful and true as ever.

Let us continue our work to make them a reality.