At the start of 2017 we face an unacceptable, and growing, implementation gap between established norms and the realities on the ground.
Now is the time to consolidate our normative achievements and make full use of them. The international human rights institutions that we have built, must be defended and strengthened.
The Sustainable Development Goals are indeed ground breaking. They provide us with new opportunities, and a roadmap for the future we want. We have agreed to leave no one behind. This means that we must address inequality and social injustice and safeguard the rule of law. It also means that we must empower women and men alike.
Political crises and human rights violations are often interlinked. Where there is a political crisis, human rights come under pressure. Where human rights are under pressure, crisis is often near.
Therefore, protection of human rights must also be part of our effort to address conflict and crisis. Similarly, accountability for human rights violations and an end to impunity, are important elements in achieving sustainable peace. Norway is therefore supportive to the UN international, independent and impartial Mechanism on Syria set up to investigate violations of international criminal and humanitarian law.
Conflicts and crises can never be an excuse for ignoring human rights violations. Nor can repression be accepted, in the name of ‘social stability’. Such claims should be a call to the international community that we need to step up our efforts to promote and defend human rights.
In our response to extremist violence, we must safeguard the international principles that we agreed on around 70 years ago, in the UN Charter and Declaration of Human Rights.
We agreed on these principles precisely to prevent the misuse of power.
Our ambitions must be matched with both human and financial resources. Together we need to secure the Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR) financial capacity to respond to the increasing demands. My delegation is worried that the institution face dire financial straits.
We welcome the UN Human Rights Appeal 2017, presented by the High Commissioner earlier this month. The appeal underlines 1) the importance of human rights in their own right – as all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights – and 2) the importance of human rights for effective early warning, prevention of violent extremism and peaceful co-existence. And the effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Without due focus on human rights, none of the pillars of the UN will be successful.
Once again, let me express our appreciation to the High Commissioner for his commitment and his leadership. We are grateful to his Office for the tireless efforts in the protection and promotion of human rights worldwide. Now it is time for member states to deliver and to support the 2017 appeal.
At this session, the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders is up for renewal. Norway will present a standard resolution for this purpose.
We invite all States to join forces in supporting the role of human rights defenders in our societies.
I was pleased to note the UN Secretary General expressing full support to human rights defenders in his statement yesterday. They must be able to participate in the Council and engage in the UN efforts without fear of reprisal.
Together we must enhance our efforts to protect those who are at the forefront in protecting the rights of others.
Freedom of expression is essential for our self-fulfillment, for each and every one of us. However, it is far more than that.
To be able to choose the best policy options, free and open exchanges of opinion are crucial. An independent and diverse media sector is vital to provide the public with information and to hold us, as governments, accountable.
We are concerned that some governments, whose responsibility it is to protect and implement human rights, impose laws and policies that do exactly the opposite. They undermine freedom of expression and freedom of the press.
Curtailing free speech and media are often signs of a pending crisis. Inclusive dialogue and the free exchange of opinions is our best defense against repression, violence and conflict.
Finally, I would like to acknowledge the crucial role played by civil society in this regard, a fundamental element of this Council.