Excellences, ladies and gentlemen,
The refugee crisis is one of the greatest challenges of our time – and we need to work together to address it. This is a global crisis that no country – or region – can handle alone.
The time has come for a global approach – and for real partnerships. Migration has always been a driver of human mobility, development and growth. But migration should be by voluntary, not forced by circumstances.
Many countries have made impressive efforts to provide protection under difficult circumstances.
Norway will continue to assist refugees and internally displaced people in conflict zones. We have increased our humanitarian budget by more than 25 percent this year alone. We are receiving our share of refugees – and we are working to integrate them into our society.
We welcome and support the draft Declaration that has been presented. Let me highlight four critical areas:
Firstly, we must distinguish clearly between refugees and economically motivated migrants. Otherwise we will undermine our ability to protect those who qualify for protection and endanger the entire institution of asylum.
Secondly, we need closer cooperation on the return of people who do not qualify for asylum or protection. Countries must readmit migrants who return home – voluntarily or otherwise.
Thirdly, we must stress that international law already provides a solid legal framework for the protection of refugees. What we need is more effective implementation of existing instruments and standards.
Fourthly, we must address the root causes in order to achieve a long-term solution. That is why Norway will keep its development assistance at a high level and why we must all work together to reach the Sustainable Development Goals. In this effort, closer cooperation between humanitarian and development actors is vital.
Quality education and good health are crucial for reducing poverty and mitigating the root causes of migration. That is why Norway has increased its spending on education worldwide by 70 percent over the past three years. And that is why our support for global health efforts will total over 425 million dollars in 2016.
We are also stepping up our support for education in crisis and conflict.
The Syria conference in London in February paved the way for increased support for job creation and education opportunities for Syrian refugees in the region. I urge all partners to deliver on their pledges.
We will not overcome the refugee crisis by building walls – but by working together on common solutions.