Historical archive

Norway’s priorities for the 66th UN General Assembly

Historical archive

Published under: Stoltenberg's 2nd Government

Publisher Ministry of Foreign Affairs

General instructions have been drawn up for work in the General Assembly that examine the main issues on the agenda and set out Norway’s priorities in various areas. It provides valuable insight into Norway’s UN policy and outlines Norway’s positions on themes such as sustainable economic and social development, international peace and security, human rights and humanitarian issues, and UN reform and financing.

Heads of state and government from all the UN member states will meet at the opening of the 66th UN General Assembly from 19 to 23 September in New York. From Norway, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of the Environment and International Development, the Minister of Health and Care Services, and a delegation from the Storting (Norwegian parliament) will attend. Discussions in the General Assembly’s Main Committees will start at the beginning of October.

General instructions have been drawn up for work in the General Assembly that examine the main issues on the agenda and set out Norway’s priorities in various areas. It provides valuable insight into Norway’s UN policy and outlines Norway’s positions on themes such as sustainable economic and social development, international peace and security, human rights and humanitarian issues, and UN reform and financing. 

General priorities
The Government’s general priorities for Norway’s UN engagement are set out in the policy platform for the coalition Government for the period 2009–13 and various documents from the Storting, and further clarified by parliamentary debates and speeches by ministers and others.

Norway will promote mainstreaming of gender equality and human rights in all its work within the UN system. Where relevant, Norway will take part in bridge-building and alliances, both within and across regional groups.  

Key issues during UNGA 66
The situation in North Africa and the Middle East, the division of Sudan and the establishment of the new state South Sudan, negotiations on the two-year UN regular budget, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio +20), the Millennium Development Goals up to 2015 (focusing particularly on reducing child mortality and improving maternal health), and follow-up of the 2010 conference “A Nuclear Weapon-Free World: Nuclear disarmament strategies, non-proliferation and export control”.  

High-level meetings
Prevention and control of non-communicable diseases; desertification, land degradation and drought; tenth anniversary of the Durban Declaration; nuclear safety and security; combating international terrorism; conference on facilitating the entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. 

A. Sustainable economic and social development

Norway will continue to play a leading role in efforts to achieve all the Millennium Development Goals. Special priority will be given to the health-related MDGs (MDG 4 on reducing child mortality and MDG 5 on maternal health and universal access to reproductive health). We will continue to seek further political and financial support for the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health. Norway will also strengthen its efforts in the field of foreign policy and global health. We will intensify efforts to promote education, especially for girls, and will give special priority to fragile states. 

During the high-level meeting on the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases in September, Norway will focus particularly on tobacco use and obesity. However, the effort to address non-communicable diseases must not take place at the expense of  work to achieve the health-related MDGs and address the health problem of the poorest countries. 

Climate change, energy and environment must become a more integral part of efforts to achieve the MDGs, and the development perspective must be more fully incorporated into the climate negotiations. The Prime Minister has adopted a high profile both in efforts to achieve the MDGs and in the climate negotiations. In addition, Norway has played a leading role in work on climate change financing and sustainable forest management REDD, and Gro Harlem Brundtland is a member of the High-level Panel on Global Sustainability (which is due to report before Rio +20). This has created high expectations as regards Norway’s role. We will seek to ensure that the Secretary-General’s initiative on Sustainable Energy for All and the high-level conference “Energy for all – financing access for the poor” in Oslo in October 2011 provide valuable input to global efforts to provide better access to modern energy services, to Rio +20, and to work on poverty reduction through productive activities and trade capacity-building. 

We will seek support both for options for climate change financing and for Norway’s policy for REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries) by arranging side events where possible. This will include promotion of REDD activities as positive in relation to both climate change and biodiversity. 

We will work to secure support for Norway as a candidate for a seat on UNEP’s Governing Council from 2012. 

Norway will continue to promote mainstreaming of gender equality and women’s rights. This means emphasising the importance of gender equality as a driver of macroeconomic productivity while at the same time maintaining the rights-based approach. Women’s right to reproductive health, violence against women and decriminalisation of abortion will be key issues. Norway will take part in alliance-building to combat attempts to limit women’s rights. 

The Decent Work Agenda will be promoted as a key means of ensuring more equitable globalisation and sustained economic growth and development. Growth must be promoted through employment and greater social justice. The core elements of the agenda are creating jobs; guaranteeing rights at work, including freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining; extending social protection; and promoting social dialogue. Norway is seeking greater harmonisation of the multilateral system, based on the ILO core conventions, to promote decent work. 

Norway will work for better coordination between the UN, the Bretton Woods institutions and bodies with more restricted membership such as the G20 and the Basel Committee, and will promote dialogue between the UN and the financial system. The fight against corruption and illicit financial flows will be given priority, together with the development of taxation systems in developing countries and international cooperation on taxation. Other priorities will be innovative financing and the introduction of a levy on currency transactions to finance global public goods, development and climate change mitigation.

The importance of culture for development will be emphasised wherever relevant.

B. International peace and security

Norway is seeking to strengthen UN capacity to prevent and resolve armed conflicts and build sustainable peace, for instance through UN-led peace operations. We will give first priority to Afghanistan, Sudan, Haiti, Somalia and the turbulent situation in the Middle East, e.g. Libya, and second priority to Burma, Liberia and Burundi. The aim is to use Norwegian resources where we are most able to make a difference.

High priority will be given to efforts in the area of women, peace and security, particularly related to relevant Security Council resolutions and the protection of civilians in a broad sense. Support for the development of the justice and security sector will be a key element of this.

Norway will seek better coordination between peacekeeping and peacebuilding activities. UN capacity for peacebuilding in the early post-conflict phase should be strengthened, both in peacekeeping operations and through the work of the Peacebuilding Commission. We will continue our support for UN efforts to improve the way civilians are used in the field, particularly by implementing the measures recommended in Civilian Capacities in the Aftermath of Conflict (A/65/757).

Norway will seek to ensure follow-up of the outcome of the Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty in May 2010. In particular, it is essential that the intergovernmental machinery enables us to make real progress in disarmament and non-proliferation.

Norway will work towards the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) at the earliest possible date. We will also seek to strengthen the biological and chemical weapons conventions and advocate the broadest possible support for the Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation.

Norway will actively promote the humanitarian disarmament agenda, focusing on conventional weapons that cause unacceptable suffering. Norway will seek the broadest possible adherence to the Mine Ban Convention and the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Norway calls for renewed efforts against illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, and a new Arms Trade Treaty which will further improve international humanitarian law. The overall goal of the ATT should be, through responsible regulation of all international arms trade, to prevent illicit or irresponsible arms trade that causes human suffering and armed violence, including violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law.

C. Human rights

Norway will lead the negotiations on the resolutions on human rights defenders and internally displaced persons. We will seek greater support for the resolutions on the human rights situation in Burma and Iran. Moreover, the delegation will provide active support for Denmark’s resolution on torture and other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Mexico’s resolution on the protection of human rights in the fight against terrorism, and relevant resolutions relating to women and gender equality. Norway plays a leading role in the core group for the promotion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual rights, and will seek to strengthen these efforts in the UN system.

Norway gives high priority to freedom of speech and the elimination of religious intolerance and racism. The delegation will play an active part in discussions on resolutions that deal with these issues.

The universal right to health underpins Norway’s deep engagement in efforts to achieve the health-related MDGs, including sexual and reproductive health and rights. The delegation will seek to highlight the importance of a gender equality perspective for achieving these MDGs.

This year’s Trygve Lie Symposium, which is about the social media and their role in promoting democratic change and human rights, has become particularly topical given the situation in North Africa and the Middle East.

D. Humanitarian issues

This autumn, Norway will be taking over the chairmanship of the OCHA Donor Support Group as one means of promoting the goals of the 2009 white paper Norway’s humanitarian policy (Report No. 40 (2008–2009) to the Storting). As a major donor of humanitarian aid, Norway considers it important that emergency aid is as clearly targeted, rapid and effective as possible. The delegation will make use of both negotiations on resolutions and direct dialogue with the UN secretariat in efforts to strengthen the UN system for disaster relief. Norway’s major contribution to UN humanitarian efforts will also be highlighted in connection with the annual High-Level Conference of the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) in December. Other Norwegian priorities will be access to the victims of humanitarian crises, including the need to ensure a “humanitarian space”, better protection of the rights of internally displaced persons, protection of civilians, respect for international humanitarian law, and further efforts to combat sexual violence, ensure better help for victims and end impunity.

The white paper Norwegian policy on the prevention of humanitarian crises (Report No. 9 (2007–2008) to the Storting) established that prevention is the most basic element of Norway’s humanitarian engagement. The delegation will seek to ensure that prevention, disaster risk reduction and preparedness are included in the dialogue with UN humanitarian and development agencies.

E. Promotion of justice and international law

Norway will take part in efforts to promote international justice. One priority will be the debate on the scope and application of the principle of universal jurisdiction. This is a controversial topic, and Norway considers it important to counteract attempts to limit the capacity of the international community to respond effectively to the most serious types of crime.

We will follow the work of the International Law Commission closely, especially those aspects that may be directly relevant to Norwegian core interests.

The Law of the Sea and fisheries issues have high priority. Priorities include a productive review of the General Assembly’s efforts to prevent negative effects of bottom fisheries on vulnerable marine habitats, as well as focus on environmental protection and biodiversity in general, capacity building for developing countries, safe and satisfactory conditions for the shipping industry and combating organised crime at sea.

F. Drug control and combating terrorism

Norway will take part in the negotiations on a comprehensive convention on international terrorism, and will support the UN in the implementation of the Global Counter- Terrorism Strategy.

Work on the resolution on drug control traditionally put forward by Mexico will be continued. We will support measures to combat transnational organised crime and its negative impact on development and stability. Norway will support the development of an effective and independent mechanism for review of the implementation of the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime.

G. UN reform and funding

Norway will contribute to a more effective and performance-oriented UN and will work closely with the Secretary-General in preparing for his next five-year term. We will seek to ensure continued progress in and implementation of UN reform. This includes follow-up and implementation of the recommendations of the report of the UN Panel on System-wide Coherence, human resources management and administrative reform, and continuing the ongoing processes of strengthening the UN’s humanitarian efforts and reforming UN peacekeeping operations (the “New Horizon” process).

We will play an active role in ensuring that the funding allocated to peacekeeping operations in the UN core budget and the budgets for such operations is sufficient for them to fulfil their mandates. As regards the issue of revising the scale of assessments, Norway will advocate a better burden-sharing system, which would include an increase in contributions from the BRICS group (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa).

Norway will take a constructive and critical approach to the question of resource use by the UN, with a view to achieving stronger performance-based management, greater measurability of results and good reporting routines. More focus on administrative questions, zero tolerance of financial irregularities, enhanced accountability and strengthening internal oversight will be necessary. We will continue our active engagement in improving UN country team coordination through follow-up of the recommendations of the UN Panel on System-wide Coherence, work on integrated peace operations and humanitarian reform. This will be done through consultation processes, negotiations and dialogue with key developing countries, and steps to include civil society and the private sector more fully.