C3: Promotion and protection of human rights

Statement by Norway's Ambassador and Chargé d’Affaires a.i. May-Elin Stener to the Third Committee General Discussion on Agenda item 68: Promotion and protection of human rights, 31 October 2016 .


Not since the Second World War have so many people been forced to flee their homes. It is a clear symptom of the failure of States to protect and promote the human rights of their citizens.

Conflicts and crisis can never be an excuse for ignoring human rights violations. Repression cannot be accepted in the name of 'social stability'. When the opposite is claimed, the international community needs to step up its efforts to promote and defend human rights.

It is therefore important that we consolidate and implement our normative achievements. The international human rights institutions must be safeguarded and strengthened. The work of the third committee must reflect such an ambition Our stated ambitions must be matched with human and financial resources. This includes giving the OHCHR the financial capacity to respond to the demands.

Violent extremists pose a direct threat to human rights. We need to end impunity for all those committing violations and crimes under international law. At the same time, we must ensure that our efforts to address violent extremism are in accordance with our obligations under international law.


Freedom of expression is essential in itself, but it is far more than this. Freedom of expression is necessary for the realization of other human rights. It is a prerequisite for democracy and good governance. Censorship, repression of free speech and increased use of propaganda are all signs of a pending crisis.

Governments must recognize that the free exchange of opinions is our best defense against repression, violence and conflict.


We are dismayed that the situation for human rights defenders continues to be difficult and some places is getting worse.

This is unacceptable.

We remain deeply concerned by recent reports by the High Commissioner, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, and other mandate holders.

We urge all States to join forces. Together we must protect those who are at the forefront in protecting the rights of others.


The right to education is a fundamental human right. By 2030, unless action is taken, 420 million girls and boys of school age will not be on track to learn the most basic skills, and 825 million will not be on track to acquire basic secondary-level skills. The cost of inaction will be severe.

Prime Minister of Norway Ms. Erna Solberg therefore initiated the independent 'Commission on Financing Education Opportunity', co-convened by the presidents of Chile, Indonesia and Malawi, the Director-General of UNESCO, and chaired by Gordon Brown.

The Commission finds that it is possible to get all young people into school and learning within one generation. It sets out a series of priorities for achieving this ambitious goal.

The Commission submitted its report to the UN Secretary General earlier this fall. It is our hope that the Member States will take ownership and follow up on the recommendations in order to reach SDG 4 by 2030.


Norway gives high priority to the global fight against the death penalty. We oppose its use in all circumstances as a matter of principle.

Norway hosted the 6th World Congress against the Death Penalty in Oslo in June this year. We believe in the value of such multi-stakeholder initiatives, where all both abolitionist and retentionist states and others are able to meet to discuss ways forward.

We urge all States to take a stand against the death penalty during this session of the Third Committee.


Finally, with the Human Rights Council entering its second decade, we must continuously strive to improve its ability to deliver. While much remains to be done, let me acknowledge the crucial role played by civil society at the Council.

We welcome and support this feature, and believe other parts of the UN, including this Committee, would also benefit from greater transparency, openness and inclusiveness.

Thank you.