Human Rights Council 49th Session.
Opening of session High-level segment (HLS) / General segment
Statement delivered by State Secretary Eivind Vad Petersson, Norway
Check against delivery
3 March 2022
Ladies and gentlemen,
First of all, we underscore Norway’s unwavering support to the government and people of Ukraine. Norway strongly condemns Russia’s attack on Ukraine. It is entirely unjustified, unprovoked and irresponsible. We also condemn Belarus for facilitating this attack.
The attack is a severe breach of international law, including the UN Charter. It constitutes an act of aggression against an independent peaceful country. Norway calls on Russia - who bears the full responsibility for this crisis - to stop military attacks and to immediately, completely, and unconditionally withdraw all its military forces from Ukraine.
Russia must respect international law, including human rights law and international humanitarian law, and ensure the protection of civilians who are now facing grave risks. Ensuring safety of journalists and media freedom is crucial. We urge Russia to return to dialogue.
Norway fully supports holding an urgent debate on the human rights situation in Ukraine. We will contribute to a strong condemnation of Russia’s military attack and stress the importance of independent monitoring of the human rights situation, to limit and prevent further human rights violations.
The last two years have been demanding. Also for efforts to safeguard human rights.
The pandemic has affected some people far more severely than others.
Inequalities have increased, between and within countries. Discrimination as well. Based on gender, or targeting minorities and already marginalized groups.
We have witnessed politicians that disregard human rights and set aside democratic principles. Often amplified by disinformation.
To build back better we must protect the rules-based international order. With respect for human rights at its core.
There is reason for hope. Human rights activists continue to speak up. Bravely, persistently, and peacefully.
Civil society voices must be heard, nationally and at the United Nations.
In the Security Council, Norway has made this a hallmark of our membership.
Human rights defenders continue to be essential voices.
Defending democratic principles and human rights. Environmental and land rights, human rights online, and labour rights.
Last year, the General Assembly adopted a new resolution on human rights defenders.
It did so by consensus. This demonstrates global recognition of human rights defenders, of the relevance and value of their work.
Yet many face threats, violence, even death.
We must do more to strengthen their recognition and protection.
Norway will again present a resolution in this session of the Human Rights Council.
Our focus will be on human rights defenders in conflict and post-conflict situations. It will spotlight their contribution in these difficult and volatile contexts.
Monitoring and documenting violations and abuses.
Highlighting human rights to prevent and resolve conflict.
Human rights defenders contribute to building inclusive, peaceful and democratic societies.
I hope that the resolution will unite us. I invite all States – and civil society – to support this effort.
All human rights depend on freedom of expression and information.
Without it, neither human rights defenders nor journalists can do their work.
It gives the poor a voice. The marginalized. The oppressed.
Free, independent and fact-based journalism protects against abuse of power.
It corrects fake news and disinformation.
It builds trust in society.
Crackdowns on media outlets and journalists are violations of fundamental freedoms and human rights.
Norway will speak out against those that go after journalists, suppress freedom of expression and media freedom. Or shut down the internet to restrict access to information and communication channels.
We will continue to push for accountability.
We will support media development and media diversity.
And we will work to protect online freedom of expression and information.
Gender equality is a fundamental part of human rights. It is also crucial for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Women’s rights are threatened, including in Europe.
Violence against women has increased during the pandemic.
Sexual and reproductive health and rights have become politized.
Women are deprived of family planning services, contraception, and safe abortions.
We must fight for women’s right to decide over their own bodies.
Norway will stand firm on the global, normative arenas.
We must continue to aim for a world where all women and men, in all their diversity, have the same rights and opportunities. Equal access to education and work is crucial.
To achieve this, we must improve legal frameworks. And we must ensure accountability and protection.
Norway will continue to support the protection and promotion of all human rights for all, politically as well as financially.
We will increase our financial support to the Office of the High Commissioner.
We will continue to support those who work for a better world, on behalf of all of us, and future generations. For inclusive societies based on respect for human rights and the rule of law.