Letter to the Storting | Date: 19/03/2007
- Norway has repeatedly expressed its concern about the situation in the country, and has protested when opposition members and the civilian population are attacked. We have on several occasions demanded the immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners, and we will continue to give strong support to the opposition in Burma, The Minister of Foreign Affairs said in his answer.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Støre
Question for written answer No. 710 (2006-2007)
16 March 2007
Translation from the Norwegian
From Member of the Storting Børge Brende (Conservative Party) to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
According to various sources, the US is seeking to secure a week-long special session of the UN Human Rights Council on Burma and the military junta’s serious human rights violations. The initiative may result in a resolution establishing an investigative commission. It is important that the initiative is supported by a broad group of countries that give high priority to human rights. Will the Minister of Foreign Affairs ensure that Norway supports the initiative for a special session leading to a resolution that establishes a commission to investigate serious human rights violations?
Reply by the Minister of Foreign Affairs:
The situation in Burma is serious, from both a human rights and a humanitarian perspective. (See my replies to your written questions numbered 244 and 622 (2006-2007).) The Government will continue to state clearly its views on the regime’s violations of human rights and abuse of power. Norway has repeatedly expressed its concern about the situation in the country, and has protested when opposition members and the civilian population are attacked. We have on several occasions demanded the immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners, and we will continue to give strong support to the opposition in Burma.
Norway aligns itself with the EU’s common position on restrictive measures against Burma, and the Government encourages Norwegian nationals and trade organisations not to trade with, invest in or travel to Burma. We are maintaining a close dialogue with the other Nordic countries, the EU and countries in Asia in an effort to ensure a more coordinated, firmer approach to the Burma issue.
The US sees Norway as a strong supporter of the UN Human Rights Council having a clear focus on Burma’s human rights situation. The US, Norway and other like-minded countries are cooperating closely as regards the possibility of holding a special session on Burma’s human rights situation.
At the moment, there is agreement that no formal proposal should be made for a special session on the situation in Burma, and that, at present, it will be best to deal with this issue during the next ordinary session of the UN Human Rights Council (19 to 30 March 2007).
Norway and like-minded countries will participate actively during the session particularly in connection with the submission of the report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Burma, Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro.
I would like to add that the UN Human Rights Council is a “standing body” that holds ordinary sessions for at least ten weeks a year. In addition, special sessions can be called, when needed, at the request of a member of the Council with the support of one third of the membership of the Council (see Resolution A/RES/60/251 of the UN General Assembly). However, neither the US nor Norway is currently a member of the Council. The Council’s flexible nature allows a proposal for a special session to be made at any time, subject to the requirements set out above. Norway will give its active support to any proposal for a special session on the human rights situation in Burma.