Promoting Human Rights and Norwegian Law

International Journal of Humanities and Peace, Annual 2000 | Go to article overview

Promoting Human Rights and Norwegian Law


Human rights are central to the Norwegian Government's policies. With the focus, "Human rights start at home," the Norwegian Government has submitted a new "Plan of Action for Human Rights," which outlines more than 300 measures and takes a clear stand against ethnic discrimination.

In the last fifty years, the notion of universal human fights has grown from ideas into real commitment. The dream of freedom from violence, bondage and slavery has been transformed from a dream into a contract between the ruler and the ruled, between the organs of the state and the individual human being.

Hilde F. Johnson, Minister for International Development and Human Rights, said at the 55th Session of the Commission on Human Rights last year: "At this point in human history we have a real opportunity to use the universality of human rights as a spur to concerted action. Today's spirit of partnership, dialogue and open doors has replaced decades of bipolarity, walls and doorkeepers. We have a universal platform of values, a common ground, a new window of opportunity. This means that we can now talk of the globalization of accountability our key to progress for human development."

Eliminating racism

The Norwegian government is implementing the "International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination" in Norwegian law and will put forward a separate statue that prohibits ethnic discrimination. The government will also implement a pilot project to encourage voluntary reporting, monitoring and verification in the context of human rights within business and industry. This pilot project will establish a resource center in Finnmark or Tromso that includes materials focused on the rights of indigenous peoples. The government has approved the establishment of a separate Muslim primary and lower secondary school in Norway, and plans to begin a human rights dialogue with Indonesia, Turkey et al.

Focus on human dignity

Last December, the Norwegian Government submitted a white paper (Report No. 21, 1999-2000) to the Storting, which outlined a plan of action for human rights titled Focus on Human Dignity. The plan, with a five-year time frame, outlines more than 300 measures for promoting human rights both in Norway as well as abroad. This Norwegian plan of action is one of the firsts of its kind to be drawn up in the Western world, and one of the firsts to include both national and international measures. It was approved in the Council of State on December 17, 1999.

The government is proposing to further implement four key human rights conventions under Norwegian law: the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; the Convention on the Rights of the Child; the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women; and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

A national institution for human rights

The Norwegian Minister for International Development and Human Rights, Hilde F. Johnson, has committed to ensure that the government pursues a holistic policy on human rights both at home and abroad. In this connection, the plan takes up the use of remand and the length of time prosecuting criminal cases. The plan also deals with questions relating to social welfare and health care. …

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