Speech on the Occasion of the Norwegian Constitution Day, 17th May 2024

Honorable Ministers, Members of Parliament, Dear friends of Norway…

Again, we celebrate the Norwegian National Day in South Sudan. On this day, the 17th of May, when the Norwegian Constitution was signed in 1814. In Norway today the streets of every city, town and village are filled with children’s parades and the day is spent with family and friends from early morning till late at night. It is not a day of military parades – but a day of, what for many seem like endless, children’s parades.

The signing of Our Constitution represented a turning point in our journey to self-governance and becoming a sovereign nation. After several more decades of struggle, we truly became independent in 1905. This was after almost 90 years in union with Sweden, preceded by 400 years under Danish rule.  

This is a day for celebrating our freedom, our democracy and the human rights and responsibilities of an independent nation. These values take hard and thoughtful work to maintain.  

It is on these values we have based our engagement with the people of South Sudan.

  • We therefore continue to call on the Transitional Government of South Sudan to act with urgency, and in a consultative and inclusive manner, to take the steps necessary to hold peaceful and genuine elections. There is real urgency of opening political and civic space, unification of security forces and ensuring that the election related institutions are independent and up and running.

For centuries, Norway was among the poorest countries in Europe. But we have been blessed by vast natural resources. Our forefathers wisely set the conditions for managing these resources in a modern world. Norway became an energy rich nation with the founding and development of hydroelectric power from our wet climate and tremendous waterfalls. With the discovery of oil and gas off our coast, we carried on the tradition of nationally managing these resources. With the government’s sound public financial management policies and tight regulatory controls, these natural resources became the backbone of our economic success. Coupled with increased women’s participation in the economy, we further built and sustained this prosperity.  

  • Norway strongly believes that transparency and accountability in public financial management is a cornerstone for a nation’s economic development and a trusted government. This creates a solid platform for lasting peace and opportunities for all citizens to prosper.We therefore support the work for Public Financial Management Reform in South Sudan and keep calling on the Transitional Government for real political will and commitment to implement necessary PFM reforms.

Norway has been a long-standing partner with the people of South Sudan in the struggle for freedom and sovereignty. Meeting the needs of the people is a basic for peacebuilding. The humanitarian crisis affecting millions of people in South Sudan is something Norway is highly worried about. There is too much suffering for the people we are here to support.

  • Norway has been calling on the Transitional Government to ensure that no fees or other bureaucratic barriers will hamper the work of the humanitarian organizations, the UN, including UNMISS, and other international aid partners. The newly introduced fees of various kinds have posed real and serious obstacles. These obstacles need to be cleared once and for all.

Norway is committed to the support of the people of South Sudan – for democracy, a rules-based society, and human rights. These are the values we are celebrating on our National Constitution Day. ###

*Ambassador Linken Nymann Berryman, Norwegian Ambassador to South Sudan.*