Excellences, ladies and gentlemen.
Migration, which has become a key priority on the international agenda, brings both challenges and opportunities. It is in our common interest to combat illegal trafficking and smuggling, and to alleviate the humanitarian consequences of conflict-induced displacement. This council’s role in promoting peace and security is an important contribution to the long-term stability and development of the continent. This is essential for the successful prevention of large-scale displacement and flight.
On the other hand, migration and mobility also present opportunities of growth and development. In working towards overcoming the challenges and harvesting the opportunities, the African Union is a key actor and partner for Norway - both as an arena for policy development and as a global actor representing Common African Positions. Let us not forget that migration within Africa is by far larger than out of Africa migration. Regional cooperation is therefore essential.
We must also harness the dividends from migration. Norway has – since 2016 – supported the development of the continental protocol for the free movement of people. The relevance of such a protocol is underpinned by the fact that more than 80 percent of all migration from African countries remains intra-continental. Freedom of movement is the key to unlock the benefits of economic and political integration, and the success of the proposed continental free trade agreement relies on people’s ability to move freely between countries and markets. We congratulate the AU on the successful preparations of the protocol, and look forward to its expected endorsement by the AU summit in January.
Norway has also accepted the invitation to participate in the High Level Panel on Migration in Africa. The Panel, under the leadership of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, will present a report to the AU summit in June 2018 that will be a resource for the development of a common African position on the Global Compact on Migration. States, international organizations, private sector and civil society are all present in the Panel. This illustrates the need for collaboration among all good forces on the continent and beyond, in order to achieve safe, orderly and regular migration.
Finally, Norway continues to provide support to the AUs Horn of Africa Initiative to combat trafficking in persons and the smuggling of migrants. Strengthening inter-governmental cooperation in areas such as law enforcement, identifying victims of trafficking and smuggling, and securing victim assistance, are central priorities in this regard. Only through close cooperation can we avoid the widespread human suffering caused by transnational criminal networks.
Norway also welcomes the joint EU-AU-UN Task Force established to protect migrants, accelerate returns to countries of origin, and resettle those in need of international protection. The international community must act in a resolute way in light of recent documentation of conditions inside the detention centers in Libya.
Thank you Mr. Chair.