Item 2: Norway`s statement HLG

STATEMENT by H.E. Mr. Aksel Jakobsen, Deputy Minister for Development, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Delivered on 24 June 2019.

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Sustainable development for all depends on the realisation of human rights.

The 2030 Agenda for sustainable development is firmly grounded in international human rights law. It gives us the framework  we need to create “a world of universal respect for equality and non-discrimination”.

The international framework reaffirms the responsibilities of all States to “respect, protect and promote human rights”.

States are obliged to do so - “without distinction of any kind as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinions, national and social origin, property, birth, disability or other status.”

The overall message of Agenda 2030 is to “leave no one behind”. Our common task is to turn that message into reality.

However, we know that across the world, discrimination of marginalized groups continues. People are left behind on a large scale. The oppression and marginalisation not only represents human rights abuses but also damages societies, weakens the stability of countries and hampers development.



Over the past decade, Norway’s official development aid has stood at 1 % of our GNP,  which makes us one of the world’s largest donors. Over time, we have become increasingly aware that human rights and equal opportunities for everyone is an important basis for sustainable development.

This has been evident in our own country’s history and economic development. Therefore, human rights and gender equality are important cross-cutting issues in Norway’s development cooperation.

Indeed, a recent report by the Danish Institute for Human rights concludes that some 90% of the sustainable development goals are directly connected to human rights. Such knowledge should inspire further efforts for both the SDGs and in promoting human rights.

Knowing this, it is disheartening to witness the pressure that exists against human rights in many countries around the world. There is dwindling respect for a common, rules based world order. It is against this backdrop that we have chosen to intensify our efforts to promote human rights, including a human rights based approach to development. We can’t have one without the other.



We need to intensify our efforts to reach those furthest behind, otherwise we will never realize the Sustainable Development Goals. Norway is committed to do so.

There are around one billion disabled people in the world. Some 800 million of them live in poor countries. One third of disabled children do not get any education at all.

Many people think that slavery is a thing of the past. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Around 40 million people live in conditions that can only be described as slavery.

These are all grave abuses of fundamental human rights. We cannot stand idle and watch.

Norway is committed to combat violence and repression of sexual and gender minorities. We urge all countries to support the renewal of the mandate of the independent expert on sexual orientation and gender identity, during this session of the Council.

Many people live in fear because of their religious beliefs. Reports of surveillance, intimidation, torture and even murder of individuals who peacefully manifest their thoughts, religion or beliefs are deeply concerning.

Freedom of expression and the rule of law is vital for innovation, economic growth and sustainable development.

The many examples of a shrinking space for free debate and public demonstration of dissent is a cause for concern. Governments should safeguard an open space for expression and the free flow of ideas, and not crack down on political opposition and human rights defenders.

Not least, we support the important role played by environmental human rights defenders in promoting human rights and sustainable development. We welcome the unanomous call in the last session’s resolution to protect them and to hold perpetrators accountable.



The most valuable asset any country has is its human capital. Gender equality is about unlocking the full potential of a country. Gender equality is also a human right.

Advancement of gender equality is key to the fulfilment of human rights, as well as to driving sustainable growth and prosperity. In Norway, our efforts towards gender equality in education and in work life has been one of our most valuable investments.

It is 25 years since the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo. This makes 2019 is a significant year for sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Such rights underpin gender equality and women’s wellbeing, and positively impact on the health of mothers, newborns, children, and adolescents. It supports their roles in shaping future economic development and in making environmentally sustainable choices. 

We believe that education, combined with youth-friendly health services, will positively impact the health of girls and their ability to fulfil their potential.



It is becoming increasingly clear that promoting human rights toward the realization of the sustainable development goals is not only the right thing to do. It is the smart thing to do.

The world needs the United Nations to show strong leadership in the defence and promotion of human rights. We should all re-double our work to defend and reform the multilateral system, with the UN at its core. Norway remains a consistent partner of the UN, of multilateral cooperation and in the promotion of human rights.  Thank you.