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UN expert welcomes inclusion of human rights in Norway’s development cooperation programmes

GENEVA (26 September 2016) – “Norwegians have developed a strong sense of solidarity at the national level,” said the United Nations Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity, Virginia Dandan, while welcoming the Government’s efforts to mainstream the human rights based approach to development and humanitarian cooperation. 

 “Norway seems to attach great importance to untied aid, and strives to implement a demand driven and participatory assistance cooperation,” noted Ms. Dandan at the end of her first official visit* to Norway to assess the impact of the country’s development and humanitarian cooperation on the promotion of human rights.
From 19 to 23 September, Ms. Dandan visited Norway to gather first-hand information about how human rights are integrated into the design and implementation of its international development cooperation.

“The inclusion of human rights as an essential cross cutting issue in the grant scheme is indeed a significant positive development,” the expert said noting that the Government had recently formulated into a concrete framework its human rights approach to Foreign Policy and Development Cooperation.

In 2015, Norwegian development aid amounted to NOK 34.5 billion (USD 4.26 billion), corresponding to 1.05 per cent of Norway’s gross national income. “It is evident that there is a wide support for international development assistance both at the political and society level,” she noted.

Approximately 21% of the total aid budget is disbursed as support to civil society organisations with a view to build their capacity. Concerns have been expressed around the perception that there might be an intention to reduce the proportion of development funds allocated for civil society support.

“In this regard,” Ms. Dandan stressed. “I would like to invite the Government to reflect on the impact that the shift in its thematic priorities might have on the sustainability of relationships established between Norwegian and international civil society organisations and their long term partner organisations on the ground.”

Decision was also taken recently to shift a great proportion of Norway’s official development budget towards humanitarian assistance with a view to bridging the divide between humanitarian assistance and development aid by addressing the root causes of the crisis, increasing support to humanitarian aid sector—such as food, livelihood and education.

 “In my view, this is a good practice of combining actions that may contribute simultaneously to what I have labelled reactive and preventive solidarity; with the potential to build a strong foundation for poverty eradication and sustainable development, the expert said.

“I welcome the fact that within the framework of its programs on the Climate and Forest Initiative, Norway has engaged in building the capacity of indigenous peoples and local forest communities by encouraging its project partners to consult with and involve them in their processes,” she stated.

During her five-day visit, the human rights expert met with various departments in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in charge of Norway’s development assistance policy, representatives of the Ministry of climate and environment, the immigration and integration section of the Ministry of Justice, as well as development agencies including Norad, Norfund and FK Norway.

The Independent Expert’s full report of the visit will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2017.

(*) Check the Independent Expert’s full statement: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=20587&LangID=E

Ms. Virginia Dandan (Philippines) was appointed Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity in June 2011 by the UN Human Rights Council. She is currently an independent specialist on human rights in development, focusing on the application of the normative content of economic, social and cultural rights. Ms. Dandan was a member of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1990-2010) and served as its Chairperson for eight years (1998-2006). She was also in charge of the Human Rights Community Development Project in Three Philippine Indigenous Peoples’ Communities (2008-2010). Ms. Dandan is independent from any government or organization and serves in her individual capacity. Learn more, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Solidarity/Pages/IESolidarityIndex.aspx

The Independent Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Norway: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/NOIndex.aspx

For more information and press inquiries, please contact Ms. Yaye Ba: +41 22 917 9210 / yba@ohchr.org).

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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