‘Human rights are coming under increasing pressure in various parts of the world. This is why the Government has proposed an increase of NOK 88 million in its support for promoting human rights in next year’s budget, to a total of NOK 680 million,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide.
In 2019, priority areas for Norway’s human rights funding will include promoting freedom of religion or belief and protecting religious minorities, promoting the rights of women and LGBTI people, and promoting freedom of expression and protecting human rights defenders.
‘Religious minorities in many countries experience discrimination and persecution. The situation is particularly difficult for Christians and other minority groups in the Middle East. We are therefore stepping up our efforts in this area. There are clear links between a lack of respect for human rights and other challenges facing the international community. If we fail to safeguard human rights, we are unlikely to succeed in our efforts to promote sustainable development and peace,’ said Ms Eriksen Søreide.
In addition, the Government has proposed an increase of NOK 15 million in Norway’s allocation to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in next year’s budget. This funding is part of a four-year agreement totalling NOK 660 million, which Ms Eriksen Søreide and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet signed in New York on 23 September.
‘OHCHR is a principled advocate that speaks out in support of international norms and the principles of the rule of law. Having said this, I am concerned that a lack of funding is hampering UN monitoring of member states’ compliance with their human rights obligations. It is therefore crucial to provide OHCHR with long-term, predictable financing,’ said Ms Eriksen Søreide.
Human rights are both a high priority area in Norwegian foreign policy and a cross-cutting issue in Norwegian development policy. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has recently appointed a steering group that will focus on how a human rights and gender equality perspective can be incorporated into Norway’s foreign and development policy.
(Press release MFA)