Issues relating to human rights and democracy are a high priority in both Norwegian foreign and development policy. Whether it comes to support to human rights defenders, promoting freedom of speech, fighting the death penalty, or supporting the development of democratic constitutions and free elections, safeguarding human rights is the guiding principle. Priority target groups for Norwegian human rights efforts are human rights defenders, minorities, women, children and indigenous peoples. Several of Norway’s priority areas within Human Rights, e.g. lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights, sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), death penalty, Human Rights defenders and freedom of expression, are controversial issues in international politics. In the UN system Norway promotes cross regional cooperation and alliances to achieve results in priority areas
Norway has started to cooperate more closely with countries where there are human rights challenges but at the same time potential for improvement through dialogue and contact. Currently, Norway is engaged in formal human rights dialogues of this kind with China, Indonesia and Vietnam. The overriding aim of these bilateral human rights dialogues is to strengthen the dialogue partner’s adherence to the international human rights framework.
The objective of supporting human rights defenders is that efforts to promote and defend human rights in all parts of the world can be carried out without restrictions or threats to human rights defenders or their families. Human rights defenders are people who stand up for other people’s rights. By documenting and calling attention to states’ violations of their obligation to promote and respect human rights, they help to enhance the protection of human rights at the local level. Support for human rights defenders is an investment in the rule of law and democracy. At the UN and other international organisations, Norway actively promotes efforts to support human rights defenders. At national level, many Norwegian diplomatic missions are in charge of various measures and joint campaigns with other international actors to support their work. Human rights defenders are important cooperation partners for our diplomatic missions.
Norway wishes to be at the forefront of international efforts to combat the death penalty. The death penalty is incompatible with the principles of human dignity and humane treatment, which are fundamental to our sense of justice. Norway actively promotes global abolition of the death penalty. In our anti-death penalty efforts, we employ a wide range of tools and work through intergovernmental and regional organisations as well as directly in individual countries. In cases where executions are considered to be in violation of international law, we will issue a formal protest to the relevant authorities.
Norway has developed guidelines for the work with Human Rights defenders, the death penalty and LGBT rights.
Promoting human rights in Mozambique
Being one of the poorest countries in the world, it is a considerable challenge for the government of Mozambique to ensure that the population enjoys their basic human rights, such as access to health services and education. However, some of the most serious human rights violations in Mozambique are believed to be related to the justice sector.
In Mozambique, Norway supports Pathfinder International Mozambique, Centro de Integridade Pública (Centre for Public Integrity) and the Lutheran World Federation in carrying out work linked to human rights.