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International IDEAs Inter-Regional Dialogue on Democracy (IRDD)

13 March 2018 - Statement on SDG16 by Ambassador Hans Brattskar

Statement by Ambassador Hans Brattskar, Permanent Representative of Norway, on “Connecting the global perspectives with regional and national efforts towards the achievement of SDG 16”

 

The advancement of the Sustainable Development Goals is an overarching priority for Norway, both domestically and in our foreign and development policy.

I have been asked to address a number of questions about Sustainable Development Goal 16. I will endeavor to answer these questions in due course and would be happy to answer any questions you may have in the discussion afterwards.

So to begin with the first questions, what is Norway doing to implement SDG 16, and what are the main challenges and opportunities we are seeing in this area? 

Norway is a comparatively peaceful society. The Norwegian Constitution and a number of laws [including the Public Administration Act, the Freedom of Information Act and the Environmental Information Act] contain core democratic principles and secure the fundamental rights and privileges of all citizens.

In spite of this, it is clear that we have to overcome a number of challenges to fully implement SDG 16 at the national level.

First, while the homicide rate is relatively low (0.6 per year per 100 000 inhabitants), intimate partner homicides account for 20-30 per cent of the total number of homicides nationally in Norway.

The Norwegian Government takes part in both national and global efforts to combat abuse and violence against women and children. Such violence has devastating and long-lasting effects on individuals, communities and whole societies. In October 2016, therefore, the Norwegian Government launched a new action plan for intensifying efforts to reduce the incident of violence in close relationships, and also to strengthen measures to address the needs of children who have been subjected to violence and abuse.

Second, corruption. The Norwegian government has a zero-tolerance policy against corruption, and we are committed to the effective implementation of international standards to combat corruption [including the conventions and review mechanisms from UNODC, OECD, and the Council of Europe]. Active participation in these international monitoring mechanisms helps us assess where we stand and identify gaps that need to be addressed.

And third, reducing illicit financial flows is crucial to fight all forms of profit motivated crime, including organized crime. This requires active and effective measures to fight money laundering, both by countries where the proceeds of crime occur, but also from other countries where the private sector can be used or abused to launder illicit gains.

As evident from the Panama Papers, serious organized crime and grand-scale corruption can go undetected when the proceeds are laundered through complex business structures that hide the ultimate beneficial owners. A globally effective implementation of SDG 16.4 necessitates transparency of who are the ultimate beneficial owners of legal persons and arrangements. This is why Norway is the process of setting up a register of beneficial owners. We encourage other countries to do the same.

Finally, how can civil society contribute to these efforts?

In Norway, there is a tradition for close dialogue between the government and civil society.

Civil society organizations are invited to participate in hearings and comment on government white papers. There are also frequent meetings between civil society organizations and ministers, members of parliament as well as political parties—both formally and informally.

Civil society also plays a crucial role as a partner in the implementation of Norway's development policy, and carries out work in a wide range of countries in areas such as anti-corruption, child protection and violence against women. 

But civil society also plays the role of a watchdog, and regularly puts issues related to the implementation of SDG 16 on the public agenda, most recently related to arms export. The fact that there is not always full agreement between the government and civil society organizations, is for us a sign of a healthy democracy.

I thank you for the opportunity to present Norway’s perspectives here today, and I am looking forward to the discussion.