The white paper, which is entitled "Opportunities for All: Human Rights in Norway’s Foreign Policy and Development Cooperation", makes it clear that a commitment to human rights must lie at the heart of Norway’s foreign and development policy.
‘There is a gap between the commitments states have made and the respect shown for human rights in practice. I am concerned about the situation. Human rights are increasingly under threat in many parts of the world, especially civil and political rights such as freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. Failure to respect human rights is an infringement of the rights of the individual. This impedes social development and has negative consequences at local, national and international levels,’ said Mr Brende.
Mr. Brende emphasized that it is the responsibility of each and every state to protect human rights and prevent all forms of discrimination and violence, including against women, children, religious minorities, indigenous peoples, people with disabilities and sexual minorities. Reprisals against people and organisations who cooperate with the UN and other international organisations constitute serious violations of their rights and are unacceptable attacks on the institutions that the international community has built up and must defend.
‘Norway will play a leading role in efforts to ensure that the UN puts human rights first in all its activities, not least at country level. We are actively supporting Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Human Rights Up Front initiative. With the new white paper, the Government is putting human rights at the top of the agenda in Norway’s foreign and development policy,’ said Mr Brende.
Norway is giving high priority to education in its development policy, with a particular focus on girls, children with disabilities, the poorest children, and children in crisis and conflicts. This is an important element of Norway’s efforts to strengthen human rights.
‘I would like to thank the nearly 40 organisations that have provided almost 400 comments and suggestions for this white paper. This demonstrates the strength of the Norwegian commitment to human rights. I look forward to further cooperation in implementing the vision and priorities set out in this important document,’ said Mr Brende.
In the white paper, the Government announces a number of priorities. Read the summary here.