Dear Honorable Guests - Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me start by thanking, Aamir Sheik and The Foundation Dialogue for Peace, for organizing this High-Level Conversation on work and dialogue for peace.
It is an honor and a pleasure for me – to host you all here at the Storting.
We are gathered in Oslo, the home of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, the awarder of the Nobel Peace Prize. I believe this venue can inspire the discussions as well.
In the Norwegian Parliament – there is also a cross political GROUP – who have joined the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion and Belief (for short; IPPFoRB).
A network launched in the year of 2014 in response to the rising crisis of religious or belief-based persecution, both by terrorist groups and authoritarian governments.
IPPFoRB is an alliance of parliamentarians committed to advancing religious freedom for all, as defined by Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I am also a member of this group.
The world is struggling today!
Violent conflicts are increasing in number and in complexity. The humanitarian consequences are devastating, and a record number of people have been forced to flee their homes.
Conflicts, wars and terrorism have catastrophic consequences for those who are directly affected. They also create challenges for many more and threaten the security – far wider.
Preventing conflicts - is absolutely preferable to repairing the damage they cause once they begin. It is also cheaper. Norway will now increase its support to the UN Peacebuilding Fund by NOK 115 million over a period of three years.
In the budget proposal from our Government for 2017, aid for post-crisis stabilisation and reconstruction has been expanded to include crisis prevention. The Government proposes an increase in support for efforts in these areas.
Our Government also is intensifying its efforts to promote stability and development in fragile states and regions - and is drawing up a comprehensive strategy for its work in this area. The strategy will set out both bilateral initiatives and multilateral efforts.
I mentioned Human Rights – regarding freedom of Religion and Belief – well the Human Rights is so much more than that! In the year of 2015 – this Parliament had to discussion and desition a White Paper on the Human Rights.
The white paper set out the main priorities of Norway’s efforts to promote human rights in its foreign policy and development cooperation. It described how Norway’s efforts to promote and protect human rights will be mainstreamed into all aspects of its foreign policy and development cooperation, and it shows how Norway's efforts will be intensified at three levels: the global level, the regional level and at country level.
I strongly believe in following the Human Rights standards.
I also believe that lasting - and sustainable peace can only be achieved through political solutions.
And thus I am pleased with our government’s aim is to increase states' ability to address their challenges and to prevent state collapse. Long-term efforts in a wide range of areas are needed - if we are to succeed in what are often complex and challenging situations.
Only some weeks ago I visited Colombia together with my colleagues in The standing committee of Foreign Affairs – It really gave me a special feeling – to actually be in a country while its history was about to be rewritten.
And I am thrilled by the messages coming these days – that President Santos and his counterparts are continuing their talks, are pursuing PEACE – in order to finally end the more than 50 years long conflict!
Being – not only a politician - but also a mother and a grandmother – I very much believe that every child has the right to a fair chance in life.
But around the world, millions of children are trapped in an intergenerational cycle of disadvantage that endangers their futures – and the future of their societies. They live in terror and conflict – they do not get schooling – their only lessons learned are those of fear, hunger, anger and horror!
We have a choice: invest in children now - or risk a more divided and unfair world, in times to come.
By shifting priorities and concentrating greater effort and investment on children who face the greatest challenges, governments and development partners can make sure every child has a fair chance to achieve her full potential – and realize a future of her own making. The Norwegian Prime Minister and her Government – and the Norwegian Storting are very committed to this cause!
In today’s world some politicians are tempted to increase their popularity by policies of division and fear. But true leaders, like you, seek what is best for the people you represent, and try to build bridges between peoples, societies and faiths – no matter how hard it may sometimes seem.
All this said about politics – THIS meeting is NOT to discuss politics – but Peace – and how to enhance PEACE.
Efforts towards building more peaceful and inclusive societies, and to counter all forms of violent extremism, are vital.
I look forward to the discussions here today – but firstly to the interventions - and I am certain we will make new friendships that will further the cause of peace.
Peace is a topic which is highly important, it was yesterday – it is important today and it will be tomorrow.
– Peace and friendship needs people to understand each other and hence – become friends. Peace and friendship therefore needs meeting places – today is one such meeting place – you are all very welcome!
With these words - I am about to give the floor to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar – but first – a short film!