Norway has been a member of the United Nations ever since the organisation was founded in 1945. In fact, the first Secretary-General, Trygve Lie, was a Norwegian. The UN has always been a mainstay of Norway’s participation in the international community. Norway gives priority to the efforts to make the UN a strong and effective organisation that serves as a cornerstone for an international legal order and a worldwide security system, efforts that have become more important over the last 15 years.
A UN-led world order is in the interests of Norway. We need a UN that functions as a global arena, norm-setter and executive body. All member countries must be heard, irrespective of their size and power. But in order to function properly, the UN must work effectively, have credibility and sufficient resources to carry out its tasks, and maintain proper control of its funds. Norway therefore supports the ongoing efforts to reform the UN.
A more effective UN
In the 1990s Norway and the other Nordic countries launched the Nordic UN Reform Project, which focused mainly on ways of making the UN more effective in the social and economic areas. Many of the proposals resulting from the project were included in the Secretary-General’s reform package. Norway supports the reforms and has repeatedly emphasised the lack of correspondence between the magnitude of the tasks the UN is required to carry out and the inadequate financial and human resources that the member countries make available for these tasks. Norway has pointed out that the reforms need to include better coordination, both between the various UN specialised agencies and between the UN and the International Monetary Fund, the regional development banks and the World Bank.
Poverty reduction and social development
Norway considers the UN specialised agencies and programmes to be important instruments for promoting economic and social development in the poorest countries. In September 2000 the world’s leaders adopted the Millennium Declaration containing the Millennium Development Goals. These goals, which include halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty, are to be achieved by 2015, and are the guiding principles for development programmes throughout the UN system. The goals have also been the focus of the development efforts of other countries and organisations since 2000. They are at the core of Norway’s own Action Plan for Combating Poverty and are a guiding principle in all our development coperation.
Norway actively supports the efforts to strengthen the UN’s capacity for conflict prevention and crisis management, and also the UN’s role in various ongoing peace processes. Norway is a driving force in UN peacebuilding efforts, and was one of the first countries to be chosen to take part in the UN Peacebuilding Commission that was established in 2006. UN peace operations are a key instrument in the international efforts to promote peace and security, and Norway is a substantial contributor. Norway emphasises the importance of good coordination of military and civilian elements in UN peace operations. This means that military, humanitarian and development efforts must be seen in the context of each other and must be part of an overall strategy to secure lasting peace. Norway wishes to ensure that the situation and needs of women and are focused on in the planning and implementation of peace operations and that women participate in all peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts.
Democracy and human rights
Democratic development and respect for human rights are among the main goals of Norway’s foreign and development policy, and Norway is actively seeking to strengthen the UN’s role in these areas. Among the areas to which Norway gives special emphasis are the protection of civilians during violent conflicts, the protection of human rights defenders and the protection of the rights of women, children and indigenous peoples.
Norway’s contributions to the UN
Norway’s contributions amount to 0.68 per cent of the UN’s regular budget and the budgets for UN peacekeeping forces. However, its regular contributions are small compared with its voluntary contributions. In 2004, Norway’s regular contributions totalled just under NOK 130 million. Its voluntary contributions to the UN system (funds, programmes and specialised agencies, excluding the World Bank and the regional development funds) amounted to nearly NOK 4.5 billion in 2004. According to the UN’s own calculations, Norway is the seventh largest financial contributor to the UN system.
Norway is also among the largest contributors to the UN funds and programmes, which are the main executive organs in the UN system. Norway is one of the main contributors, for example, to UNDP, which coordinates the activities of UN funds and programmes at country level, and Norway cooperates closely with this programme. Norway is also represented on the boards of UN funds and programmes.
A number of Norwegians have occupied important positions in the UN in the years since its foundation. Trygve Lie was the first Secretary-General. Gro Harlem Brundtland, a former Prime Minister has been Director General of the World Health Organisation, former Foreign Minister Thorvald Stoltenberg has been High Commissioner for Refugees, Jan Egeland is Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and Emergency Relief Coordinator, former Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik is the Secretary General’s Special Humanitarian Envoy for the Horn of Africa, Terje Rød-Larsen has been the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to the Middle East and is now the Special Envoy for the implementation of Security Council resolution 1559, and Geir O. Pedersen is the General Secretary’s Personal Representative for Southern Lebanon.
Norway is also currently financing 50 to 60 junior professional officers in various UN agencies. About 15 to 20 new junior professional officers are appointed and financed by Norway every year.