Dear friends of peace,
Let me express sincere gratitude and respect to those speakers that are honoring us with their presence and reminding us of the horrors of war and suppression. Humankind must learn from the past to build a better future. To build a future where people can realize their full potential.
How we communicate between generations and pass on knowledge and experience is key. The magnitude and complexities of the challenges of today prove that we are slow learners. The recent and second nuclear test in the DPRK this year is a case in point. This test was met with strong condemnation all over the world.
I want to thank the organizers for the invitation to mark the International Day of Peace. We are a few days ahead of the actual day on the 21st this month. That is good; I take it as a sign of impatience to charge forward on this noble agenda.
Norway is strongly committed to working with civil society, we do so at home and we do so abroad. On the government side, we need to tap into your knowledge, to be closer to people, to design policies and measures for the benefit of people and thus ensuring the transparency and credibility that paves the way for peaceful, stable and prosperous societies. In this respect, I want to pay tribute to president Santos and the leaders and citizens of Colombia for the huge and relentless efforts made to reach the peace agreement. An agreement that ends 52 years of conflict paving the way for stability and prosperity. These impressive and historic achievements required both vision and bravery. We should all learn from this peace process and translate this knowledge into conflict prevention and resolution in countries where such knowledge is urgently needed.
The UN Sustainable Development Goals adopted last year guide our work in a new and comprehensive manner. Goal 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions is pivotal for successful attainment of the other goals. We must succeed in operationalizing this goal in a meaningful manner in order to implement it successfully. Here the UNODC in Vienna has a key role to play, as well as the other Vienna based international organizations within their different mandates.
Dealing effectively with the scourge of corruption and ensuring the imperative of an independent judiciary is at the core of our Vienna work. Next month the States Parties to the UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime are meeting here. Corruption is a cross cutting issue when addressing the challenges of transnational organized crime. Clearly, there is the need to maximize efforts in this regard. The strengthened cooperation between UNODC and Interpol is welcomed. Norwegian corruption laws are extraterritorial. We expect the same standards of all Norwegians and all companies, regardless of where they are. Corruption, wherever it takes places, diverts resources needed for the implementation of the SDGs. We need enhanced transparency and cooperation to tackle corruption more effectively. Civil society and media have important roles in reporting corrupt practices that also may include government agencies. We must support civil society organizations in their difficult and at times dangerous work against corruption. Furthermore, we need resilience and strength as considerable economic interests and powerful actors are involved.
My government’s commitment to the SDGs is demonstrated by the appointment by the UNSG of the Norwegian Prime Minister, Solberg, and the President of Ghana, Mahama, as co-chairs for the UN SDGs Advocacy Group. PM Solberg has stated that and I quote “Like other countries, Norway will do its utmost to reach the goals and targets at home. Just like other countries, we will struggle to meet all the goals”, end of quote. And let me add, we do so in solidarity with other countries by giving 1% of our GDP in Official Development Aid.
Even if Norway largely is an egalitarian country, we have important gaps to fill when it comes to inequalities. For example in Oslo, life expectancy may differ with 10 years from one district to another. Equally, young people face considerable challenges when it comes to housing, in particular in our capital city, Oslo. In addition, we need to do more to promote effective integration of migrant populations. As the Gini index demonstrates, all countries have challenges of inequalities, albeit to different degrees.
I focus on SDG 10 because large inequalities can be a strong driver of conflict. Inclusiveness and non-discrimination must permeate our efforts when delivering on the SDGs commitment.
Countries all over the world face challenges of youth unemployment and lack of income to provide for themselves and their families. The disillusionment and despair this causes is exemplified by the death of Mohamed Bouazizi 6 years ago in Tunisia triggering a wave of protests in many Arab countries. Indeed, we need a strengthened public private partnership and a strengthened intergenerational dialogue to address these challenges and opportunities. We need policies and measures in place that can promote meaningful and rewarding lives for our youth. Furthermore, in many countries women and girls face exclusion and discrimination and lag behind on many of the SDGs. My government will have a continued strong focus on the implementation of SDG 5. Together with partner countries we are investing in the education of women and girls. In Vienna UNIDO is playing an important role in the promotion of employment opportunities for women and youth, also in post conflict areas. We are pleased to support those efforts.
I am one of the more than 5 million Norwegian citizens in a democracy with His Majesty King Harald V as our head of state. This month his speech made Twitter headlines across the world. I have selected a few lines from this speech as follows: "Norwegians have immigrated from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Poland, from Sweden, Somalia and Syria. My grandparents came here from Denmark and England 110 years ago. It is not easy to say where we are from, what nationality we are. Home is where our heart is – and that cannot always be confined within national borders. My greatest hope for Norway is that we will be able to take care of one another. That we continue to build this country – on a foundation of trust, fellowship and generosity of spirit. End of quote.
I believe these words give valuable guidance as to how we need to work together internationally on promoting peace and implementing the SDGs. We can and must build trust, respect, fellowship and generosity of spirit across the nations and peoples of the world, regardless of color, creed, and gender."