Let me reiterate my country’s appreciation to the Working Group for Business and Human Rights for their ability to engage all stakeholders, not least through their role in guiding the first three annual Forums on Business and Human Rights.
We believe that the last Forum was the best forum ever. The number of participants continued to increase across all stakeholder groups. It is now the most important global arena for stakeholders to discuss how to implement the Guiding Principles, far beyond the expectations four years back. Through sharing of best practices and information on specific cases, the Forum has become an important stage for engagement across all stakeholders. Norway has been a financial contributor to both Forums and will continue to support the next Forum in December.
The last Forum was a success not only because of numbers. The dialogue was respectful and constructive. It was also more substantive, tackling thorny issues, discussing reforms in company and government practice, and getting to the core of the issues. The discussions were creative, focusing on the need to do more, faster.
We are also very pleased that Business representatives are becoming more engaged in discussions about experiences, challenges and lessons learned from efforts to implement the Guiding Principles. Enhanced business engagement was also evidenced by the participation of the CEOs of some global companies. The potential of the Guiding Principles will not be realized without business enterprises actively engaging in efforts to implement their responsibility to respect human rights. The Working Group has to continue its search for strengthened business participation.
The President of the last Forum, Mo Ibrahim, urged participants to use the three days of the Forum to “move the needle”, to "make short speeches and long spaghetti." Norway believes that the last Forum demonstrated its ability in engaging all stakeholder in dialogue, not only to talk, but to strengthen the ability for real reform in governments and business. We look forward to continuing the debate in the next Forum in November.