St.meld. nr. 31 (1997-98)

Om Noregs deltaking i den 52. ordinære generalforsamlinga i Dei sameinte nasjonane (FN) og vidareførte sesjonar av FNs 51. generalforsamling

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1 Utanriksministerens innlegg i generaldebatten

Address by Mr. Bjørn Tore Godal, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway At the 52nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly New York, 22 September 1997

Mr. President,

Mr. Secretary-General,

Your Excellencies,

Distinguished Delegates,

Last week, in Oslo, almost one hundred countries agreed to a convention text for a total ban on anti-personnel land mines. Who would have imagined, only a year ago, such a remarkable achievement in such a short time? Thanks to tireless efforts and model cooperation involving governments, non- governmental organizations and civil society, we have reached this milestone event. I would like to extend a special tribute to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and the International Committee of the Red Cross. They have been a driving force in our efforts to get rid of the scourge that land mines represent to the lives of men, women and children in conflict areas around the world.

In the beginning of December, we will meet in Ottawa for the signing of the Convention. I appeal to all countries engaged in this Process to ratify the Convention. To those of you who have not yet joined us, I say: please do so as soon as possible. Land mines cannot be allowed to terrorize, maime and kill more innocent civilians. The United Nations and its members have an important role and responsibility in bringing success to the Ottawa Process. Mr. Secretary-General, I appreciate your support and welcome the fact that you will be the depositary of the Treaty.

We all have a strong moral obligation to increase our efforts to reduce the suffering and prevent new casualties caused by land mines. Norway intends to provide 100 million dollars over a five-year period for mine clearance and assistance to victims.

Mr. President,

The spread of land mines, small arms, and weapons of mass destruction is unfortunately only one of the many interlinked global challenges illustrating that the world now, more than ever, needs the United Nations as a well-functioning global organization. At the threshold of the third millenium,

  • it is unacceptable that poverty and pollution still dominate the daily lives of billions of people all over the world;

  • it is unacceptable that hostilities and hatred still create new deadly conflicts and humanitarian disasters, between and within states on all continents;

  • it is unacceptable that basic human and individual rights are still widely violated, through injustice by governments and negligence of the international community.

Only the United Nations can tackle these universal and interdependent problems in a comprehensive and integrated manner. But the world has undergone radical changes since 1945, and so has the nature of the tasks confronting us. Hence, the United Nations also needs to change, in order to do better what the member states want it to do.

I was therefore very pleased by the letter that Mr. Kofi Annan sent to all of our governments last month. In clear and concise terms, the Secretary-General sets out the elements of what is without doubt the most comprehensive reform package in the history of the United Nations.

Let me state clearly:

Norway warmly welcomes and fully support the Secretary-General's programme for reform and renewal of the United Nations.

Together with the other Nordic countries, we have given our strong political backing to his reform proposals. We will work actively with other member states to ensure that the General Assembly endorses the reform package this autumn. We want the reforms implemented as soon as possible.

Norway wants a stronger and more efficient United Nations. Without such reform, we will have an organization less able to promote development, peace and progress.

Norway is one of the main contributors to the United Nations system. We are among the group of countries that fulfill the aim of allocating more than zero point seven per cent (0,7%) of our gross national income to development. One out of every hundred Norwegians have participated in peace-keeping operations around the world. Our voluntary assistance to humanitarian relief activities, in terms of money, resources and personnel, is second to none.

But - we want to make sure that our contribution is made to good use. We want to see it utilized by the United Nations to improve the lives of people, where the needs are the greatest.

This is why we support the Secretary-General's reform proposals.

First of all: the reforms will ensure that more resources are allocated more efficiently for development. The Secretary-General's excellent proposal to use administrative savings for a «development dividend» is but one element in the process. We encourage him to continue further on the course that he has taken. UN activities aimed at sustainable development, poverty, population and education must be strengthened and integrated at headquarters and field level. Health should be among the main priority issues. Increased international efforts are needed to assist developing countries in improving their national health policies and combat emerging and re-emerging diseases, such as malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS. Member states must follow up, by fulfilling their obligations to increase their transfers of aid to the developing countries and peoples that need it the most. This will also hopefully have the effect of creating the confidence needed to bring us forward in the Rio Process, towards renewed environmental commitments which can pave the way for a successful meeting in Kyoto later this year.

Secondly: the reforms will strengthen the United Nations' ability to manage conflicts. Too often, the United Nations has shown a lack of capacity to act rapidly in the face of emerging crises. Therefore, we believe it is high time to establish the rapidly deployable mission headquarters for peace-keeping and other operations. Norway has offered to provide funding for personnel to these headquarters. Furthermore, we encourage other member states to contribute to the Fund for Preventive Action, which has been established this year. We are pleased to note that the Fund has already facilitated the work of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General in Central Africa. We want to cooperate closely on conflict resolution with our friends and partners in Africa, including through our training programmes for peace-keeping tasks in that region.

Thirdly: the reforms will extend the capacity of the United Nations in the human rights field. Norway welcomes the proposal to strengthen the Human Rights Secretariat and the exellent choice of Mary Robinson as High Commissioner. We pledge to work closely with her to ensure that the international community increases its focus on human rights violations. Human rights concerns must become an integral part of all core areas of the Organization's work, also at headquarters in New York.

We must follow up the reform of the Security Council. Our position is well known: the Council must be made more representative and better reflect changes in political and economic realities. We want new non-permanent seats for Germany and Japan, and for the developing countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America. At the same time, a limited number of new non-permanent seats should be added.

We need financial reform and changes to the scale of assessments. Some countries have experienced high and sustained economic growth, but still resist reforms which would better reflect their increased capacity to pay. Other countries feel that they are paying too much. We agree that the time has come to show flexibility in the discussions on lowering the ceiling on the scale of assessments to the UN budgets, as part of an overall solution. It cannot be justified that some countries unilaterally pay less than their legally-binding share or nothing at all. Non-payments are unacceptable. How can those of us who always make a point of paying in full and on time, without conditions, expect our citizens to continue financing free riders?

Mr. President,

We need better integration and coordination within the UN system and between the UN, regional organization, governments, civil society and non-governmental actors. For Norway, this is not least important in the area of humanitarian assistance. We welcome the proposal to enhance the capacity of the Emergency Relief Coordinator to deal more effectively with complex emergencies.

In Bosnia, we are engaged in peace-building under difficult conditions. Men and women are serving a wide range of different organizations: NATO, the UN civilian police, the OSCE, and humanitarian NGOs. Without the excellent coordination and cooperation that has evolved between the High Representative, the UN Special Representative, the SFOR Commander, the OSCE Head of Mission and others, the peace implementation process would have been in dire straits indeed.

Nationalist leaders in Bosnia are still inciting hatred. Refugees are being denied their right to return to their homes. Our personnel is being threatened. War criminals are still at large. But despite the failure of local leaders to fulfill their obligations, the newly held elections show that the international community has given this country a hope for the future. We will stay the course and remain engaged in Bosnia until peace is consolidated. We will insist that wanted war criminals be brought to justice. The convening of a UN conference to establish a permanent international criminal court in 1998 must be given priority.

Norway remains committed to the Middle East peace process. While we will continue to work actively with other donor countries to ensure the availability of funding, we are extremely concerned by the current deadlock. The parties must realize that there is no alternative to the peace process and to the fulfillment of the the spirit and letter of the Oslo accords. Further credible efforts to combat terrorism must be undertaken. The current settlements policy is not conducive to the peace process. We must redouble our efforts to bring the parties back into dialogue about the remaining issues.

We must not forget the success stories of UN conflict resolution. Since last year, for example, the decades-long civil war in Guatemala has ended peacefully. We have had the pleasure of working with the UN and other Friends of Guatemala in seeing through the ceasefire agreement signed in Oslo and the other peace accords. I would like to use this opportunity to commend the government of Guatemala and the URNG for their courage and determination to see the peace process succeed.

Mr. President,

Our experience in Guatemala and other conflict areas corroborate the importance that the Secretary-General, in his reform package, attaches to the close interaction between the civil society, governments and the United Nations. We must make use of the dedication, resources and commitment to peace and progress that exist among citizens, in non-governmental organizations, and in the private sector. Through the active involvement and support of civil society, we can build a stronger and more effective World Organization for the next century.

Thank you Mr. President.

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