Statement Ine Søreide HRC 43rd Session

Statement Ine Søreide 24.02.2020

- Freedom of expression must be respected both offline and online. Forces of prejudice, intolerance and discrimination must not be allowed to grow. When governments try to limit their citizens’ freedom of expression, thought, conscience, religion or belief– we must speak out.

The High Level Segment of the Human Rights Council 43th session, Geneva. Statement by Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ine Eriksen Søreide.

                                                                                                                  Check against delivery. 

Ladies and gentlemen,


In too many countries, we are seeing attacks on human rights and those who defend them. This worrying trend is paired with the erosion of Democracy and the rise of populism.

Multilateral cooperation and the rules-based world order is being challenged globally.

But the year 2019 also gave us hope. Brave activists and human rights defenders spoke up in persistent and peaceful protests all over the world.



Sustainable development for all and Agenda 2030 is dependent on the realisation of human rights.

Everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy political and civil, economic, social and cultural rights.

There should be no reprisals for speaking up against injustice.



Unless the rule of law is defended by an independent judiciary, independent media and a vibrant civil society, established democracies can be undermined from within.

We should be alarmed. This is happening, in many parts of the world, in broad daylight.

Only 9 % of the world’s population enjoy a free press. Journalism continues to be a dangerous occupation.

In 9 of 10 cases, killings of journalists are not punished. Female journalists are especially exposed to threats and harassment.

Freedom of expression must be respected both offline and online.
Forces of prejudice, intolerance and discrimination must not be allowed to grow. When governments try to limit their citizens’ freedom of expression, thought, conscience, religion or belief– we must speak out.



The fact that the space for civil society is continuing to shrink in many countries is a source of great concern.

The latest statistics from the UN show that every week, around nine people are murdered because of their efforts to build more inclusive and equal societies.

Human rights defenders play a crucial role in building sustainable, prosperous and democratic societies.

The most recent resolutions on human rights defenders in the UN General Assembly and the Human Rights Council have been adopted by consensus.

Human rights defenders call on us all, as Governments, as well as the UN, businesses and civil society, to do more. I want to take this occasion to encourage everyone here to honor their commitments.

The Special Rapporteur for human rights defenders has played a crucial role in the protection of human rights defenders over the past years. We thank him for his tireless effort.

Norway will work to ensure the renewal of the mandate in this session, and we look forward to collaborating with the next special rapporteur.


As stated in the UN Charter, respect for human rights is essential for ensuring stability and peace. Systematic human rights violations is often the first sign of an emerging conflict.

Strengthening the prevention role of the Human Rights Council will be crucial if the UN is to fulfill its mandate of ensuring peace, security, human rights and development for all.

I am therefore pleased that the report requested in the Human Rights Council in July 2018, has been published, and that it will be presented during this Human Rights Council session.
If we are serious about prevention, we need a UN with a strong human rights pillar.

This is the responsibility of the member states, but also of the UN as a whole, from the bottom to its very top. If the UN is to deliver on its mandate, one of its three pillars cannot continue to receive a meager 3 % of the regular budget.



This year we mark the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action. And there is much to celebrate.

Family law in many countries is moving in the right direction. Almost as many girls as boys are now in school.
Women’s participation in politics and economic life has increased, contributing to welfare, development and stability for families and societies.

But we are concerned about the pressure againstwomen’s rights in many parts of the world. And about the attacks on established norms and rights, particularly sexual and reproductive health and rights.

In 2020, it should not be necessary to fight for women’s and girls’ basic right to decide over their own bodies.

 214 million girls and women [across the world]have inadequate access to family planning,
 Every day 810 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth.
 And every year around 7 million women in developing countries are admitted to hospitals because of unsafe abortions.

Branding these issues as controversial and difficult to discuss and address is another worrying trend. Because these are not controversial issues at all.

Women are simply being deprived of their basic human rights -and that is something we have to talk about.

In closing, Norway will continue to support the protection and promotion of all human rights, politically and financially.

Besides being one of the largest donors to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Norway has further increased the budget for human rights efforts through other channels in 2020.

From 2018-2021 Norway will annually provide around 20 million USD in funding to the OHCHR. We have also increased the support for human rights efforts through other channels by around 9 million USD in 2020 totaling over 90 million USD.

Our position on human rights is clear and we will never stop supporting those who are working tirelessly for ensuring those rights – on behalf of all of us.


Thank you.