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The national dimension of multilateralism

Statement at the Inter-Parliamentary Union Hearing on The national dimension of multilateralism by Member of Norway’s Parliament Hege Haukeland Liadal.

Dear collegues – dear friends.

I have been asked to say something about the root causes of the political polarization that is becoming common in many countries around the world.  

My opinion is based on my reflection as a friend of the world and a MP from a small and peaceful country up in the north, called Norway. My political experience is actually over 30 years – I am 46 now and started in the youth organization AUF, Labour’s youth party – and my interesting then and also now was climate change. So you can say – I have not given up.

But,

I believe change is a root cause. The world is changing in many ways, and for some people these changes are positive, but for others they seem negative.

In general, one can say that the way that the world is changing creates uncertainty.  Faced with uncertainty, a natural strategy for many will be defensive, sticking to what is familiar and known. Nationalism might be the preferred solution.

One major force of change is globalization. The removal of barriers between national economies to encourage the flow of goods, services, capital and people has raised prosperity all over the world.

But, at the same time, some groups have seen their relative prosperity decrease as a result of globalization.

For example, low skilled manual workers in western societies has seen their jobs disappear to low-cost countries. At the same time they have been unable to take part in the new high tech job market in their own countries. The movement of labour across borders has also influenced the situation as immigrants compete for the scarce low skilled manual jobs, often willing to work for less money.

The changes globalization has brought about have resulted in a divide between winners and losers of this development.

And I think people do not like their chance. And I will send out a message to all my colleagues today: Mind the gap. Mind the gap between people in their daily life. So they day for day can be more and more satisfied with their life. That’s why we are her. In this chair or in our chair in the parliament.

Make the world a better place for you and for me – and the entire human race, as Michael Jackson said it in one of his songs: Heal the world.

And that brings me to one of the main issues;

We have seen an increasing stream of people searching for a better life in the rich countries. On top of that came the refugee crisis in the wake of the war in Syria. This development gave the impression of countries being flooded with people while multilateral organizations such as The UN and the EU were unable to handle the situation. In many countries the inhabitants felt that their political leaders where not putting their own nationals first. The result was a polarization between pro and anti- immigration views.

We need to cooperate more not less. We will se the same situation in the future and I hope that meeting like today – is giving us a better opportunity to strengthening the bands and be more prepared for what tomorrow brings. Our people back home relay on us to fix this. In the end of the day it is they who has given us this position and be their voice and manage small og big crisis. If not we will have mistrust between the people and us.

Maybe one of the biggest challenge we have in front of us is climate change. Norway has this on the political agenda every day. Not one day in the parliament without discussing this issue.

Scientist warn about the consequences of climate change, but some of the policies to stop the development does not go down well with the public. They feel that they will have to carry an unfair burden. There is a political polarization between different opinions on the need to, and how to, deal with climate change.

And this will be our test as politicians if we manage to stop the climate change, to implement the SDG and all the resolutions.

That brings me to the UN system. I hope for the future that IPU and UN are working closer together. Why? In Norway we really love the UN – and how it works. But in my personal opinion the union is very good at diplomacy and government are talking to each other with the NGO’s around the table. And the private sector.  But I really think that one part is missing – and that is the MP’s and the Parliament. If countries around the world should implement resolutions and SDG’s – we all need to work harder together. 

If not we will have a disconnect between citizens and politicians. And in many countries that is the situation.

People do not feel that politicians represents their interests and can no longer relate to the way they speak. They feel that politicians have become an own elite, disconnected from ordinary people and only interested in their own careers.

I don’t want that. I will like you all to hum on Michael Jackson’s song when you go back home:

“Heal the world – make it a better place – for you and for me and for the entire human rica – there are people dying – if you care enough for the living – make it a better place for you and for me.

That is our job. Use your chance – it is today.

Before I stop and give the floor back to you I have to use the opportunity to say that my small and peaceful country up in the north – who had the first Secretary general of the United Nations from 1946-1953 Trygve Lie, we are now seeking your support for a seat in the Security Council. It will be 20 years since Norway last had a seat on the council and we are ready to serve again.

Thank you.