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Item 6: Statement of UPR outcomes

Human Rights Council 42 Session, item 6: Consideration of UPR outcomes. Statement delivered by Ambassador Hans Brattskar, on 19 September 2019.

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President,

Human Rights is one of Norway’s key priorities in our foreign policy and we strongly support the UPR mechanism. It gives all Member States a unique opportunity to undertake a general review of their human rights situation at regular intervals, and to engage in a constructive dialogue with other States, National Human Rights Institutions, civil society and others.

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The Norwegian Government welcomes the recommendations received during its third Review in May. Norway received 241 recommendations from 93 countries.

Twelve ministries have provided responses to the recommendations within their respective fields of responsibility.

The Government has accepted 176 recommendations [73 %]. I am pleased to inform you that thirty of the accepted recommendations are already implemented.

The Government has partially accepted 22 recommendations, and has not accepted 42 recommendations. One recommendation regarding climate change has been considered to go beyond the scope of the UPR.

Norway submitted an Addendum to the Report of the UPR Working Group on the 26th of August. A document with all the recommendations and the Government’s responses is annexed to the Addendum. The responses include explanations with regard to all recommendations that are partially accepted or not accepted.

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The recommendations cover a number of different human rights issues. I will provide some comments with regard to the main themes.

62 recommendations concern measures to combat discrimination, hate crimes, xenophobia, racism, Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism. The Government has accepted 47 of these recommendations, and partially accepted seven of them.

The combined Equality and Anti-Discrimination Act has been in force since January last year [2018]. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender, age, ethnicity, religion, belief, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, leave in connection with childbirth or adoption, and care responsibilities. The Government continuously works to ensure consistent implementation of anti-discrimination legislation.

The Equality and Anti-discrimination Ombud is an independent body that promotes equality and prevents discrimination in all areas of society. Complaints concerning breaches of the legislation are dealt with by an Anti-Discrimination Tribunal.

The Government is preparing a new action plan against racism and discrimination based on ethnicity and religion, and will implement measures to counter discrimination in the workplace, the health sector, the housing market, restaurants etc.

The Penal Code prohibits hate speech motivated by a person’s skin colour, ethnic or national origin, religion or life stance, sexual orientation, or disability.

Norwegian authorities are implementing the Government’s Strategy against Hate Speech, which also includes gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.  

The authorities are also implementing the Government’s Action Plan against Anti-Semitism.

29 recommendations concern measures relating to coercion, excessive use of force, violence and abuse. The Government has accepted twenty-two of these recommendations.  

We will continue to strengthen efforts to combat domestic and sexual violence. Specific action plans on violence and abuse, forced marriage, and female genital mutilation guide this work.

Various measures have been implemented, including

  • support centres for victims of crimein all police districts
  • children’s houses in different parts of the country, and
  • crises centre services free of charge in all municipalities.

The Government will also take further measures, including the following:

  • establish groups with expertise on domestic violence and sexual abuse in all police districts
  • establish a national cybercrime centre to strengthen the fight against internet-related abuse, and
  • Develop an action plan on combating rape.

27 recommendations concern the legal and institutional framework, in particular ratification of UN human rights instruments. The Government has accepted eleven of these recommendations.

I am very pleased to inform you that Norway ratified the Convention for the Protection of Persons from Enforced Disappearance on the 22nd of August this year. Norway has now ratified eight of the nine core international human rights instruments, and most of their optional protocols.

In 2002, Norwegian authorities decided not to become party to the Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and Their Families. The decision has since been upheld, most recently by the current Government in August this year. Norway has ratified the core ILO conventions on workers’ rights.

In 2016, the Government presented a white paper on the individual communications mechanisms under the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights [ICESCR], the Convention on the Rights of the Child [CRC] and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities [CRPD]. The Government concluded that it would not propose acceptance of these three mechanisms, due to uncertainty about the consequences. In January 2017, a broad majority in Parliament supported the Government’s decision.

The Government is committed to ensuring that national candidates for UN treaty body elections are qualified and independent, and will further consider the recommendation to adopt an open, merit-based process when selecting candidates.

25 recommendations concern immigration and asylum policy. The Government has accepted fifteen of these recommendations, and partially accepted six of them.

The Government pursues a restrictive, responsible and fair immigration policy that ensures due process within the framework of Norway’s international obligations. Vulnerable groups of migrants and asylum seekers are continuously given specific attention.

A key aim of Norway’s integration policy is to ensure that immigrants find employment or start studies, and take part in Norwegian society. The Government’s most important integration measures are access to education, Norwegian language training and other courses to give immigrants basic qualifications to take part in society. The employment rate for immigrants in Norway is relatively high compared to other countries.

All asylum applications are carefully and individually assessed. Asylum seekers who are found to be in need of international protection will be granted asylum.

The Government has implemented various measures in recent years to ensure adequate care for unaccompanied minors in reception centres, such as increasing the number of professional care workers. Reception centres must report any suspected mistreatment or crime against a child to the child welfare services.

21 recommendations concern the equality and rights of minorities and indigenous peoples. The Government has accepted nineteen of these recommendations.

I would also like to note that measures to combat discrimination, which I previously mentioned, also apply to the Sami people and minorities.

The consultation procedures between the central government authorities and the Sámediggi (Sami Parliament) constitute a crucial framework for ensuring Sami rights under international law to participate in processes that affect them. Consultations must be genuine and aim at reaching agreement. The Sámediggi and other relevant Sami interest groups have the right to be consulted if new activities are being considered in Sami areas. The Sami people have access rights to natural resources in Sami areas. In order to safeguard the Samis’ right to develop their culture and way of life, there are statutory limitations on the types of activities that can be started up in Sami areas. The Government is considering the CERD Committee’s recommendations to improve the legal framework for Sami land, fishing and reindeer rights.

Norway’s aim is for national minorities to play an active part in efforts to preserve and develop their language and culture. Greater awareness about national minorities and their culture can reduce discrimination, stereotypes and negative attitudes. The authorities support national minority organisations and initiatives that give greater insight into their situation. The Government will also present a white paper on national minorities next year [2020].

The Norwegian Parliament has appointed a truth and reconciliation commission to examine Norway's former assimilation policy and the injustices perpetrated against the Sami and Kven/Norwegian Finns. The preparatory work was carried out in close cooperation with the Sámediggi and Kven/Norwegian Finn organisations. The commission is to submit its report to Parliament in 2022.

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President,

Our ambition is to implement all the recommendations accepted by the Government before Norway’s fourth Universal Periodic Review in 2024.

I would like to sincerely thank all the countries that contributed to the review of Norway in May. Allow me also to thank Norway’s Human Rights Institution, the equality and anti-discrimination ombudsman and civil society for their constructive contributions prior to the review. National Human Rights Institutions, ombudsman institutions and civil society have a crucial role in making the UPR a credible and useful process.  

Thank you.

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Concluding remarks

President,

Allow me to conclude the formal proceedings of Norway’s third universal periodic review by thanking you all for your participation in the review, including statements delivered at this meeting. In closing, I will emphasize that promotion and protection of human rights is a priority for the Norwegian government. Although much has been achieved, we still face challenges and will continually strive to make improvements. The UPR process provides a unique opportunity to address these challenges and raise awareness of the importance of strengthening national implementation.

Thank you.