The UN

Norway’s main priorities for the 78th session of the UN General Assembly

Instructions for the Norwegian delegation.

Background

The UN General Assembly is the world’s most representative multilateral forum for dialogue and policy development. As such, it is a key arena for promoting Norwegian interests, for international cooperation, and for finding solutions to global challenges. The overall guidelines for Norwegian multilateral policy remain unchanged, see the white paper Norway’s Role and Interests in Multilateral Cooperation (Meld. St. 27 (2018–2019)). Norwegian policy is based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and international law.

The 78th session of the UN General Assembly will open on 5 September 2023 at the UN Headquarters in New York, and will begin with the inauguration of the new President, Mr Dennis Francis of Trinidad and Tobago. The theme for the 78th session including the General Debate will be: ‘Rebuilding trust and reigniting global solidarity: Accelerating action on the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals towards peace, prosperity, progress and sustainability for all’. The General Assembly High-level Week will take place from 18–22 September.

The General Assembly’s 78th session is taking place at a time when the world is facing multiple, complex challenges. Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, with its ramifications for energy supplies, food security and inflation, is a pertinent example. Other critical global challenges are the climate crisis; increased polarisation and rivalry between major powers; diminished trust in multilateral cooperation and between groups of UN member states a; mounting pressure on democracy and human rights, including sexual and reproductive health and rights for girls and women; and the pandemic. All this has led to a global crisis of confidence and undermined trust in the multilateral system. Norway takes this very seriously, and will give priority to working to address this situation by continuing to be a consistent, reliable partner that seeks dialogue and cooperation across regional divides to promote common solutions. Our aim is to help to advance progress on the SDGs, promote effective multilateral cooperation and strengthen respect for international law.

This year, there will be a great many high-level meetings due to the backlog left by the pandemic. The most important meeting will be the SDG Summit, which will take place on 18–19 September. The other key meeting will be the preparatory ministerial meeting on 21 September for next year’s Summit of the Future. Other important meetings will be the High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development and the Climate Ambition Summit, both to be held on 20 September. There will also be three high-level meetings on health.

Norway’s delegation will be led by Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre. Minister of Foreign Affairs Anniken Huitfeldt, Minister of International Development Anne Beathe Tvinnereim, Minister of Climate and Environment Espen Barth Eide, and Minister of Health and Care Services Ingvild Kjerkol will also take part in meetings during the high-level week. Observers from the Storting (Norwegian parliament) and representatives of Norwegian civil society organisations will be included in the Norwegian delegation and will participate in various events during the autumn session. Most of the General Assembly meetings will be streamed online and will be accessible to everyone.

The 78th session of the UN General Assembly lasts until September 2024. The negotiations in the General Assembly and its six main committees will continue throughout the session, and Norway will be represented by its Permanent Mission to the UN in New York together with officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other relevant ministries in Oslo. In addition to these main priorities, separate instructions are being drawn up that will set out key issues and goals for the negotiations in the General Assembly’s various committees, based on Norway’s overall priorities and capacity.

In September 2021, the UN Secretary-General launched his Our Common Agenda report, setting out his vision for the future of global cooperation. This is being followed up along various different tracks. The aim is to revitalise multilateral cooperation and intensify efforts to achieve the SDGs. The report covers a wide array of topics, ranging from the global financing architecture, and the peace and security architecture to crisis management, gender equality, disarmament, digital cooperation and global public goods. The importance of rebuilding trust is a key theme that runs throughout the report. The Secretary-General has made it clear that steps should be taken to ensure that efforts to achieve the SDGs and implement the Our Common Agenda initiative should complement each other and be mutually reinforcing.

A nexus approach will be essential to achieve the SDGs. The UN’s work is based on three main pillars – development, peace and security, and human rights. These are closely interconnected and interdependent. It is also vital to improve coordination between humanitarian action, peacebuilding and long-term development efforts. These will be key guidances and messages for Norway’s efforts in the General Assembly.

1. Promote binding multilateral cooperation

Multilateral cooperation and respect for international law are vital for Norway’s security, economy and welfare. We are seeing a tendency to rely less on multilateral organisations to address common challenges through compromise and cooperation. At the same time, the world is facing major global threats and challenges that no country can solve on its own. The UN must adapt to this reality. A key goal of the Government’s foreign policy is to promote binding international cooperation and safeguard the multilateral system, so that we can increase our ability to deal with common challenges, such as the climate and environmental crisis, pandemics and the ramifications of the war in Ukraine.

Norway will:

  • Work proactively to make the UN more effective and representative, and to promote Nordic coordination and a clearer Nordic voice in the UN.
  • Support the implementation of the resolutions adopted on the reform of UN management, of the UN peace and security pillar, and of the UN development system. Work to secure more flexible and predictable financing for the UN.
  • Work to promote system-wide coordination at country level and across the UN’s three pillars. A nexus approach is essential if we are to achieve the SDGs. It is vital to follow up the 2020 General Assembly resolution on the quadrennial comprehensive policy review of UN operational activities for development (QCPR) and the resolution adopted in 2018 on the repositioning of the UN development system. Efforts to promote human rights, including women’s rights and participation, must be given priority across all the UN’s areas of work.
  • Support the implementation of the UN Secretary-General’s Our Common Agenda initiative in specific priority areas and in line with the 2030 Agenda.
  • Work to promote results-based management in UN institutions, and to ensure that the UN has the funding and flexibility it needs to fulfil its mandates. Promote sound and effective management of UN resources.
  • Promote constructive cooperation across the traditional and regional divides of the General Assembly. The delegation will seek to build bridges, listen, and use constructive diplomacy to facilitate workable and mutually advantageous solutions for the common good. The Nordic-African initiative to strengthen cooperation on multilateral issues and in support of the rules-based world order is important in this context and must be followed up.
  • Work to promote more representative and inclusive multilateral cooperation, for example by seeking to increase the participation of civil society, and young people in particular.
  • Work to strengthen the relationship between the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the Security Council, and follow the reform process closely.

2. Promote international law and the international legal order

It is of vital significance to Norway to maintain an international legal order that provides a clear and predictable framework for ensuring compliance with international law. The importance of having fundamental rules of international law governing relations between states has been brought to the fore. More and more tools in the international legal toolbox are being employed in the response to international crises, while technological advances may create a growing need for new international regulation. At the same time, there are many examples of international law being put under pressure. Discussions about the development of international law are just as much about preserving existing rules and preventing regression in this area as about establishing new rules.

The law of the sea is crucial to Norway’s economic and geopolitical position. While we are seeing that international law is under pressure, there are some clear examples showing that multilateral efforts yield results. The adoption by consensus on 19 June 2023 of the Agreement under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ Agreement) is a milestone in the development of international law on the high seas and must be seen as a victory for multilateralism in these challenging times.

In order to be able to play a role in strengthening the international legal order, it is vital for Norway to participate actively in forums where international law is being developed. The work of the International Law Commission (ILC) is an important part of the UN’s efforts to encourage the progressive development of international law in line with Article 13 of the UN Charter. It is important that Norway engages with the issues on the ILC’s agenda, participates in discussions on following up the ILC’s work and plays a constructive role in the General Assembly’s efforts to promote the progressive development of international law.

Norway will:

  • Continue its efforts to ensure respect for and compliance with international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, and promote the international legal order. The delegation will support efforts to promote a world order based on international law, including the principles set out in the UN Charter.
  • Play a constructive role in discussions on the development and codification of international law.
  • Actively promote international dispute settlement mechanisms.
  • Promote the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and safeguard its position as the legal framework for all activity at sea. Support the implementation of the newly adopted international marine biodiversity agreement (BBNJ Agreement) under the Convention.
  • Participate actively in discussions on issues relating to international humanitarian law (IHL), with a view to countering attempts to weaken or undermine existing IHL obligations.
  • Continue to support the ILC’s work on crimes against humanity and build on the work done on this issue during the resumed 77th session of the UN General Assembly, with the aim of negotiating and adopting a convention based on the ILC’s draft articles.
  • Continue to work to combat impunity, and as in previous years, express Norway’s readiness to participate in discussions on a new convention on the criminal accountability of UN officials and experts on mission.
  • Follow the discussions on universal jurisdiction, with a view to preventing the debate from being derailed or undermining the capacity to prevent and respond to the most serious crimes.
  • Continue to play a constructive role in the efforts to conclude a comprehensive convention on international terrorism.
  • Monitor the discussions on the ILC’s draft articles on the protection of persons in the event of disasters. This is an issue that has gained particular relevance this year, and where there appears to be interest in developing a united Nordic position.
  • Participate actively in discussions on the ILC’s annual reports, and work to ensure that the UN General Assembly takes steps to follow up the ILC’s work.

 

3. Strengthen human rights

The UN’s mandate and unique position in the world mean that it has a special responsibility to work to promote progress in the areas of democracy, human rights, development and multilateral cooperation. It is especially important to highlight this in 2023 when we are celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

There has long been a failure to comply with international human rights obligations in many countries that have been moving away from democracy. Civil society representatives, journalists and human rights defenders in many countries are experiencing infringements of their rights, including their freedom of expression, assembly and association. Women’s rights and gender equality, in particular sexual and reproductive health and rights, are under pressure. The UN is having to respond to these trends. The COVID-19 pandemic and increasing geopolitical tensions and conflict have further undermined human rights and democracy. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to greater polarisation and made it more difficult for multilateral forums to carry out their work. Norway considers it vital to safeguard universal rights and fundamental freedoms, legal protection and the rule of law, particularly in times of crisis.

Norway will:

  • Continue to play a key role in UN efforts to protect and promote human rights, democracy and the rule of law, and to integrate a rights-based approach into all aspects of the UN’s work.
  • Continue to work to counter growing polarisation by encouraging cooperation and compromise across regional and other divides.
  • Continue its efforts to support and protect human rights defenders. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, and Norway will be putting forward another resolution on this issue.
  • Be at the forefront of efforts to ensure that civil society representatives are able to participate meaningfully in UN efforts and processes.
  • Work to combat discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, religion or belief, disability, ethnicity or other minority status.
  • Give particular priority to safeguarding freedom of expression, freedom of religion or belief, freedom of assembly, and workers’ rights.
  • Promote gender equality and women’s rights, including the right to decide over one’s own body. Women’s rights and gender equality are to be integrated as a cross-cutting issue in all Norway’s efforts.
  • In the context of gender equality efforts, the delegation will give high priority to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and women’s right to economic and political participation. Norway will support international efforts to combat sexual and gender-based violence.

4. Strengthen the UN’s capacity to prevent and resolve conflicts

Norway will seek to strengthen the UN’s capacity to prevent and resolve conflicts, with a view to promoting peaceful and sustainable development. The UN General Assembly is the world’s largest international meeting place, and a unique arena for promoting cooperation and geopolitical stability. Predictable international cooperation based on international law and the peaceful settlement of disputes is the best way to promote peace and security.

Norway will:

  • Work to ensure that UN efforts follow a nexus approach based on cooperation. Initiatives in the areas of mediation, stabilisation, peacebuilding, humanitarian response and development are closely interconnected and must be implemented in an integrated manner. Cooperation between the UN and other multilateral organisations, such as the World Bank and the regional development banks, and regional organisations, is essential in order to achieve the best possible results. The partnership between the UN and the African Union (AU) is particularly important. Norway will work actively to strengthen such partnerships, especially in the field of peace and security.
  • Work to strengthen UN peace operations. Norway will work to promote more coherent, coordinated and effective implementation of UN peace operations, based on a nexus approach. The Secretary-General’s Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) initiative and the current implementation strategy for this initiative: Action for Peacekeeping + (A4P+) will guide this work.
  • Explore ways in which Norway can play a greater role in UN peace efforts. As a member of the UN Peacebuilding Commission, Norway will work to prevent, de-escalate and resolve conflicts. Following up the UN Secretary-General’s New Agenda for Peace initiative will be a key priority. Norway will seek to promote cooperation across regional groups.
  • Work to strengthen the protection of civilians in armed conflicts, including the protection of children, and raise this issue in all relevant UN forums. Work to incorporate protection of civilians as a cross-cutting issue in all resolutions on country-specific situations and different thematic areas. Strive to ensure that the UN General Assembly presents a clear, consistent message on the need to protect civilians and achieve full compliance with international humanitarian law in all armed conflicts and topics and that those responsible for violations of international humanitarian law are held accountable. Work to promote compliance with established rules on protection of civilians in all UN peace operations.
  • Seek to create meeting places and foster dialogue between parties to conflict and other relevant actors. Work to cultivate and highlight Norway’s role as bridge-builder. Norway’s broad involvement in peace and reconciliation efforts has given us important experience and a unique position in this area. Norway will continue its active engagement in efforts to address conflicts and humanitarian crises.
  • Give priority to efforts to promote the women, peace and security agenda. Work to increase the proportion of women participating at all levels of UN peace operations, as both civilian and military personnel. Work to strengthen women’s rights and participation in all phases of peace processes and at all decision-making levels, with a view to ensuring that the gender perspective is integrated into all aspects of peace and security work, and that commitments in this area are translated into concrete action.
  • Work, in close collaboration with the countries that are most severely affected by climate change, to ensure that climate-related security risks are integrated as a cross-cutting issue in UN peace and security efforts, with a particular focus on the need for disaster risk reduction, adaptation and resilience building, and to ensure that these risks are an integral part of regional and local dialogue and cooperation on peace, security and development.
  • Participate actively in UN efforts to combat international terrorism and violent extremism. Promote the implementation of targeted measures to identify and prevent transnational organised crime.

5. Continue to push for disarmament

The General Assembly is a key arena for the work on disarmament and international security. Norway is working actively to promote disarmament and processes that can bring countries closer together on this issue, can engage the nuclear-weapon states, and can deliver results. The delegation will also step up Norway’s efforts to promote nuclear disarmament and will work with countries both in and outside NATO to achieve a world without nuclear weapons.

The following five priorities have been identified:

  • maintain Norway’s leading role in promoting disarmament verification;
  • promote multilateral dialogue on disarmament and the principle of irreversibility;
  • promote multilateral measures to reduce the risk of nuclear weapons being used;
  • raise awareness of the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons;
  • support efforts to promote arms control.

Nuclear disarmament verification is essential for achieving and maintaining a world without nuclear weapons. The development of a credible multilateral verification regime is therefore vital for promoting disarmament. The delegation will ensure that Norway continues to play a leading role in the work to promote disarmament verification within the framework of the UN. The consensus report of the Group of Governmental Experts on Nuclear Disarmament Verification, which concluded its work in May 2023, will be presented to the UN General Assembly by the Group’s Norwegian chair. Together with partner countries, Norway will put forward a resolution endorsing the report. Norway will give priority to efforts that ensure that the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) continues to be the cornerstone of the international disarmament and non-proliferation regime, and that the UN General Assembly works to strengthen the NPT. Norway and Panama will be serving as co-Presidents of the Conference on Facilitating Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), known as the ‘Article XIV Conference’ for the next two years. This will help to reinforce Norway’s position as a champion of disarmament and non-proliferation.

Increasing attention is being directed towards disarmament questions, international security related to activities in space and the issue of responsible state behaviour in cyberspace. The delegation will support the further development of a UN-led legal order in outer space, with a view to creating a predictable framework and promoting peaceful coexistence in line with our foreign and security policy interests. Priority will be given to cybersecurity and responsible state behaviour in cyberspace. The delegation will work to maintain and strengthen the consensus reached in the UN on the overall framework. This will involve working actively with like-minded countries to build on the consensus that international law applies in cyberspace, and that there is no need for a new legally binding mechanism. The delegation should support initiatives aimed at building broader consensus on the interpretation of existing rules and on enhancing compliance with these.

The delegation will seek to advance international arms control and disarmament efforts, ensure compliance with the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Mine Ban Treaty, and work with like-minded countries to promote international regulation of autonomous weapons systems, taking a two-track approach: a targeted ban on weapons systems that cannot be used in compliance with international humanitarian law and a regulatory framework for other types of weapons systems with autonomous functions.

6. Strengthen the UN’s capacity to prevent and respond to humanitarian crises, and promote international cooperation on refugees and migrants.

Norway will promote compliance with the principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence in efforts to assist and protect people affected by humanitarian crises.

Norway will:

  • promote the achievement of the goals set out in Norway’s Humanitarian Strategy, with a focus on enhancing protection of civilians, including children, against attacks and acts of violence, on ensuring a nexus approach, and on combating hunger;
  • work to strengthen humanitarian efforts in the light of the dramatic increase in humanitarian needs as a result of the growing number of protracted armed conflicts, climate-related threats, and economic setbacks due to the pandemic;
  • work to strengthen the protection of people affected by crisis and conflict, with a particular focus on protection of children, on efforts to prevent and combat sexual and gender-based violence, on protection of refugees and internally displaced people, and on protection against mines and other explosives;
  • promote mine clearance and humanitarian disarmament, including the implementation of the Political Declaration on Strengthening the Protection of Civilians from the Humanitarian Consequences arising from the use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas (EWIPA declaration);
  • promote efforts to strengthen the UN humanitarian system, in line with the commitments made in the Grand Bargain, which was launched at the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016;
  • advocate closer cooperation between the UN and other multilateral institutions in order to improve coordination between humanitarian action, peacebuilding and long-term development efforts;
  • work to achieve a more effective and better coordinated response for refugees and displaced people, in line with the Government’s dedicated funding initiative to improve conditions for refugees, displaced people and host communities (solidaritetspotten), the Refugee Convention and the Global Compact on Refugees, and in line with processes that seek to address the underlying causes of migration;
  • work to promote safe, orderly and regular migration and counter irregular migration, within the framework of the Global Compact for Migration;
  • follow up the efforts to improve protection for internally displaced people, and do its part to find lasting solutions in this area, in line with the UN Secretary-General’s Action Agenda on Internal Displacement;
  • promote humanitarian innovation and new working methods that lead to a more effective response and better results for people affected by crisis, for example by encouraging increased use of digital technology, cash-based activities and more effective energy solutions.

7. Promote the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, with particular emphasis on food security, climate and environmental issues, energy, gender equality, health, the oceans, and on reducing inequalities

The 2030 Agenda is the world’s action plan for sustainable development. It sets out 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets and integrates all three dimensions of sustainable development – the economic, social and environmental. The 2030 Agenda and the SDGs were adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015 with the support of all 193 member states. Norway played an active role in promoting the SDGs and securing their adoption and has committed to working to achieve the SDGs by 2030. Norway supports a human rights-based approach to implementing the SDGs.

The SDGs are an important guide for Norway’s foreign and development policy. There are some serious challenges to overcome if we are to succeed in implementing the Agenda globally by 2030. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated negative social and economic trends across the world, particularly in poor countries. The impacts of climate change and various forms of environmental degradation have become more acute, as have challenges relating to governance and democratic backsliding worldwide. The war in Ukraine has also had far-reaching ramifications. Trust between countries in different parts of the world has been weakened.

Norway is an important partner for the UN and for developing countries in the efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda. Norway provides strong political support for UN development efforts, financial contributions to UN funds, programmes and specialised agencies and UN pooled funds, and core funding for multilateral development banks’ funds for the poorest countries. Norway also engages in bilateral cooperation in this context. Norway is maintaining a high level of aid, despite the current pressure on budgets.

If we are to succeed in achieving all 17 SDGs, we must further develop national and global partnerships and strengthen cooperation with actors that can provide constructive contributions and innovative solutions. The business sector, civil society organisations and the academic community all serve as important partners for Norway and often for each other in this context, providing access to networks, expertise or capital.

Norway will:

  • seek to inject new momentum into the efforts to implement the SDGscommitments, strategic priorities, flexible financing, joint initiatives and targeted partnerships that can help to increase the effectiveness of these efforts;
  • work to ensure that both the outcome of the SDG Summit and Norwegian political priorities relating to sustainable development are incorporated into the process leading up to next year’s Summit of the Future, and encourage the UN and UN member states to view this process as a strategic tool for advancing the 2030 Agenda;
  • work to achieve the establishment of an internationally recognised financing and reporting system to provide visibility and incentives for efforts that will help us to reach the SDGs, but that cannot at present be reported, wholly or in part, as official development assistance (ODA).

In particular, Norway will work to secure good results in the following areas:

a) Hunger, food security and climate-smart agriculture

Global food security has been deteriorating since 2014 as a result of climate change, the war in Ukraine, economic disparities and the socio-economic ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic. Some 828 million people are affected by hunger worldwide. Food prices, energy prices, fertiliser prices and transport prices all have a major impact on local and global food security. The growing number of humanitarian crises and rapid increase in food insecurity for large population groups in many countries have led to a rise in involuntary migration both within countries and across national borders. The gap between needs and resources is widening.

Norway’s strategy for promoting food security in development policy – Combining forces against hunger – a policy to improve food self-sufficiency – was launched in November 2022 and is in the implementation phase. The overall aim is to increase global food security at the local and national level by targeting efforts towards promoting climate-resilient small-scale food production and strengthening the participation of small-scale food producers in local and regional food value chains. The delegation is requested to support the UN Secretary-General’s efforts and leadership in the area of food security, including his engagement in securing the export of agricultural products from Ukraine to the global market. 

Norway will: 

  • work to strengthen international efforts to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition, enhance social safety nets, and promote sustainable food production;
  • focus its efforts on poor countries and communities that are most severely affected by food crises; 
  • in particular support initiatives targeted towards small-scale food producers in developing countries and aimed at increasing climate-resilient food production;
  • highlight the need for a coherent approach to food security that ensures that measures to prevent food crises, humanitarian action and long-term development efforts are all integrated into the response in crisis situations.

b) Climate, environment and clean energy

The UN climate summit (COP 27) in Sharm el-Sheik in 2022 took global climate cooperation a step forward, in particular with the announcements of enhanced national climate targets for 2030 and the decision to establish a dedicated fund for loss and damage. Nevertheless, a great deal still needs to be done if we are to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. Norway will work to ensure that ambitions in this area remain high and that targets that have already been set are followed up in the lead-up to COP 28. In addition to strengthening implementation at the national level, this will require active climate diplomacy and increased climate finance. It will also be vital for Norway to work with other countries to promote climate action, including climate change mitigation and adaptation, at the international level. Norway will support the energy transition and increased access to energy in developing countries. A new global biodiversity framework (Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework) was adopted in December 2022. It is intended to promote the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and ensure the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources. The framework’s targets for 2030 include the effective conservation and management of at least 30 % of the world’s land, coastal areas and oceans. In addition, a new biodiversity fund is to be created under the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

Norway will:

  • encourage countries to raise their ambitions for emissions reductions by 2030;
  • work to put climate change adaptation, the issue of loss and damage, biodiversity and disaster risk reduction high on the international agenda;
  • support the UN Secretary-General’s leadership on climate change and environmental issues and participate actively in events held in connection with the Climate Ambition Summit;
  • actively promote the implementation of the new global biodiversity framework (Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework);
  • give particular support to international climate and environmental efforts in areas where Norway has comparative advantages and can help to create jobs: renewable energy development and green shipping, carbon capture and storage, sustainable ocean management and seabed mapping;
  • support efforts to mobilise finance for and accelerate the development of renewable energy and climate technology in developing countries and emerging economies;
  • communicate Norway’s priorities in official and bilateral meetings in the lead-up to the UN climate summit (COP 28) in Dubai, and through participation in relevant side events;
  • help to put the area of climate, peace and security on the international agenda.

c) Gender equality – which leads to greater freedom, welfare and democracy

For Norway, strengthening the rights of women and girls is a goal in itself. At the same time, Norway is working to enhance understanding of the ways in which promoting women’s and girls’ empowerment and influence benefits society. Norway is working to eliminate harmful practices such as child marriage, forced labour and all forms of violence and discrimination against women and girls, and to promote the empowerment and self-determination of women and girls. We must tap into the enormous potential that women and girls represent and promote their social and economic participation. At the international level, work to promote gender equality is increasingly regarded as one of the keys to addressing several of the greatest challenges the world is facing, including those relating to climate change, the economy, global health and peacebuilding. Ensuring education for girls is essential to promote girls’ and women’s rights and participation. Gender equality, including sexuality education, must be included in the school curriculum for all children, to ensure that boys too learn about this and can then play a part in promoting gender equality. At the same time, efforts to promote gender equality are meeting strong opposition in some countries, particularly when it comes to upholding women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights and combating sexual and gender-based violence. Targeted efforts and proactive alliance building are therefore essential. Girls and women in poor countries have less access to what they need to make use of digital services and participate successfully in the digital space. Gender equality is a cross-cutting issue for all the SDGs, and one of the SDGs is devoted to gender quality. Promoting gender equality is a priority for Norway.

Norway will:

  • Seek to prevent women’s rights from being undermined and actively promote the implementation of, and compliance with, international and national obligations relating to the promotion of women’s participation, including digital participation and rights.
  • Give priority to the efforts to promote women’s participation in the labour market and in business, as well as in decision-making mechanisms at all levels and in all areas of politics and governance.

d) Reducing inequalities

Norway will work to reduce inequalities by promoting sustainable economic growth, the creation of green and decent jobs, and education. The main path out of poverty lies in sustainable economic growth, job creation, a well organised labour market, well-functioning tax systems and equitable distribution of social and economic goods. A profitable and responsible private sector is vital in this context. The current SDG financing gap is affecting many areas where it would be reasonable to expect private sector investment. It will therefore be crucial to mobilise partnerships with, and financing from, the business sector.

Norway is to play a leading role in the international efforts to combat illicit financial flows and tax evasion. If we are to succeed in fighting corruption and illicit financial flows, as well as in increasing tax revenues in poor countries, a coordinated global effort is needed to promote financial transparency, improve tax systems, combat money laundering, and ensure that corruption cases are properly investigated and prosecuted. Norway will do its part to achieve this, for example by participating in the discussions on financing for development during the General Assembly.

Between 2010 and 2020, public debt as a percentage of GDP increased dramatically in a number of African countries. Many developing countries now have fewer resources to spend on implementing the SDGs. Aid must be used as a catalyst to stimulate private capital flows to developing countries. It is estimated, however, that close to 90 % of the financing needed to reach several of the key SDGs will have to come from domestic sources. If used wisely to promote domestic resource mobilisation, aid can significantly increase domestic revenues, encourage a greater sense of ownership at the national level and lead to more sustainable public financing.

Norway will:

  • Seek to increase the focus on SDG 8 on promoting ‘sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.’
  • Promote the implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on financing for development, and give priority to important issues such as domestic resource mobilisation, private investment mobilisation, and the fight against illicit financial flows and corruption.
  • Encourage the UN and the multilateral system to raise the ambition level as regards combating illicit financial flows, and seek to ensure that the forums developing international tax rules and standards include as many countries as possible, in order to secure broad support for and give legitimacy to global tax measures.
  • Support the establishment of international mechanisms to promote effective, fair handling of government debt crises. Norway will also emphasise the need for responsible borrowing and lending practices to prevent the risk of new debt problems undermining progress towards the SDGs.
  • Highlight women’s role in and contribution to delivering economic growth.
  • Continue its efforts to promote digital cooperation and reduce the digital gap within developing countries and between developed and developing countries, as champion of the Digital Public Goods Alliance, and take part in the discussions on the Global Digital Compact.
  • Highlight the need for constructive cooperation between the UN system and the development banks.
  • Advocate a critical review of the use of global funds in order to increase the effectiveness of development aid.

The delegation will continue Norway’s work to enable the UN development system to provide more effective and coordinated support for countries’ efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda, by following up the reform measures and promoting qualitatively better financing mechanisms.

e) Good health – which is a good in itself and vital for sustainable development

In addition to its health impacts, the COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching social and economic ramifications and a major impact on security and development. It has highlighted the fact that health cannot be viewed in isolation from other sectors. The UN’s normative role in the field of health is vital, and UN funds, programmes and specialised agencies are important channels and partners for Norwegian aid to the health sector. Promoting good nutrition and food security is also crucial for improving people’s health.

Norway will:

  • Continue its efforts in the area of global health and promote more effective international health cooperation and global health preparedness to facilitate prevention, early detection and rapid response to new or persistent infectious disease threats and increases in antimicrobial resistance.
  • Work to ensure that political declarations from the high-level meetings on health in 2023 (on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response; universal health coverage; and the fight against tuberculosis) are used as input to other processes, including in Geneva. Promote cross-sectoral approaches, addressing, for example, the role of health measures in promoting broader development, the impacts of health crises on society as a whole, and the links between climate change and health.
  • Actively promote equitable global cooperation in the areas of pandemic response and health preparedness, including on medical response measures, as well as sustainable financing for health preparedness efforts.
  • Promote universal access to health services and efforts to strengthen health systems.
  • Promote sexual and reproductive health and rights, and measures that can reduce sexual violence and sexual harassment, particularly in humanitarian crises and conflict situations.
  • Work across regional groups of countries to help establish international norms and standards, mobilise funding and protect global public goods.

f) Clean and healthy oceans – which are crucial to human survival

Promoting clean, healthy and productive oceans and sustainable management of marine resources is of vital importance to the international community and a core priority for Norway. The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea regulates all activities at sea. The new international marine biodiversity agreement (BBNJ Agreement) under the Convention will serve to strengthen the law of the sea and provide an important framework for enhancing ocean management. It will facilitate closer cooperation across sectors on improving ocean health, which is in line with Norway’s priorities. Norway has taken part in the High Ambition Coalition on BBNJ and played an active role in the negotiations. Norway is also a member of the High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution and is taking active part in the negotiations on developing an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including marine plastic litter. Norway also participates actively in the ongoing legislative negotiations in the International Seabed Authority, which was established under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to regulate exploration for and exploitation of seabed minerals found beyond the limits of national jurisdiction.

Norway gives high priority to the two annual General Assembly resolutions on oceans and the law of the sea and on sustainable fisheries, respectively.

Pressures on the oceans include climate change, overexploitation of resources, loss of biodiversity and pollution, including from marine litter and plastics. Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU fishing) and certain forms of fisheries subsidies are resulting in overfishing. Promoting sustainable management of the oceans based on respect for the law of the sea is vital for achieving a number of the SDGs, not just SDG 14 on life below water. Ocean-based solutions can help mitigate climate change. Norway will work to highlight the importance of a sustainable ocean economy in promoting development. The High-level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy (Ocean Panel), which is co-chaired by Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, has a key role to play in this context. The Ocean Panel will be an important platform for Norway in the efforts to develop global ocean policy in the years ahead, and will provide valuable input in the period leading up to the UN Ocean Conference in Nice in 2025. The UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021–2030) is another important initiative, and Norway is one of the largest contributors. Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre is a patron of the Ocean Decade Alliance.

Norway will:

  • Give priority to raising awareness of the work of the Ocean Panel and highlighting its relevance for UN member states. Seek to ensure that Ocean Panel recommendations are successfully integrated into the UN’s agenda and into the work of UN organisations, programmes and funds. Sustainable management of the oceans and the role of the oceans in addressing climate-related challenges are to be key focus areas.
  • Seek to increase international recognition of the importance of the oceans for food security, energy production and job creation, and of the need to promote sustainable use of marine resources and clean and healthy oceans as a source of value creation. It is important to ensure that women are given the same opportunities as men to contribute to, and to benefit from, the development of new industries.
  • Promote knowledge-based ocean management and support the UN Decade of Ocean Science.
  • Continue its efforts to promote a global agreement to combat plastic pollution, including marine litter.
  • Seek to strengthen and further develop the law of the sea as the basis for sound ocean management and the sustainable use of resources, and to promote the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea as the legal framework for all activity at sea.

The delegation will seek to strengthen coordination between the UN’s ocean-related efforts and the ongoing work under the UN Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC) and the Convention on Biological Diversity.