Soreide: Norway is a trusted partner of Africa

Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide (right) speaks at her meeting with the Africa Group of the UN on Monday at UN headquarters in New York


It is a pleasure to be invited to address the African Group today.

I really appreciate that you are all taking the time, in what I know is a busy period in the UN calendar.

Thank you especially to the Permanent Observer of the AU to the UN, Ambassador Mohammed, and Ambassador Baati of Tunisia as Chair of the African Group this month, for making this meeting possible.

I spent Thursday and Friday last week at the African-Nordic Foreign Minister meeting in Dar es Salaam. Together with my Nordic colleagues, it was a very good opportunity to meet with no less than 28 African counterparts.

Next week Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg will meet with heads of states and governments from several of your countries during the Compact with Africa meeting in Berlin.

The frequent contact we have between Norway and many African countries is no coincidence.

Rather, I would say it is an illustration of the long-standing and strong bilateral relationships that we have.

We have friendships that go back to the struggle for decolonisation and for independence. We have a long tradition of international solidarity – including with African nations fighting against apartheid.

Multilateral cooperation is increasingly at the top of the agenda when I meet my colleagues from African countries.

Global issues such as climate change, terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and communicable diseases – they go beyond what any single state can manage.

Norway is ready to listen to the views of member states and conduct dialogue based on respect and understanding. We are a trusted partner. A partner that delivers on our international commitments.

For decades, partnership on development has been at the top of the agenda of our cooperation. Norway has met the UN target of allocating 0,7% of Gross National Income to Official Development Aid since the 1970s. This continues to be a priority. We are now allocating 1% of GNI to development, as we have done for many years.

Over the last 20 years however, our relations with African countries have broadened. And it has been a very interesting journey to follow. Political dialogue, private sector engagement and cooperation and multilateral cooperation is now the backbone of our bilateral relationships.

Sustainable, peaceful, democratic and inclusive development is our common goal.

We have a joint priority to ensure healthy and productive oceans and building a sustainable blue economy. And many of your countries were present at the Our Ocean conference that we held in Oslo in October.

Safeguarding the ocean is a shared responsibility, but it is also a matter of extreme urgency.

This is why Prime Minister Erna Solberg has initiated the High-level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy. That happened two years ago. We are very grateful for the participation and contributions from several African countries.

Stronger commercial partnerships are also emerging. An increasing number of Norwegian businesses and private sector actors now realise that Africa is indeed a continent of opportunities.


I would like to highlight some priorities going forward.

One is a strengthened African-Nordic dialogue on multilateral cooperation. The other is our joint effort to support the partnership between the UN and the African Union.

The reasoning behind the Norwegian proposal on an initiative to strengthen the African-Nordic cooperation on multilateral issues is that the best solutions are found through cooperation. And I had the opportunity to present this initiative more in depth in Dar es Salaam on Friday.

Allow me to say a few words about why I believe there is a need, and potential, for such an initiative.

International politics have become more unpredictable. There is more instability. There is greater unrest in the international system. And you probably see it better than most from your positions here in New York.

In particular, there is a sense that the rules-based international cooperation is under strong pressure. Multilateralism is more and more often bypassed by what we can call mini-lateralism, or isolationism and unilateralism. And this is guided by short-term national interests.

The international order, with the UN at its core, needs to better represent the geopolitical realities of the world today.

This means, among other things, increased African representation in key UN organs, especially, the Security Council.

We must redress the historical injustice done to the African continent through increasing the number of both permanent and non-permanent seats for Africa on the Security Council.

Many of the conflicts on the Security Council’s agenda concern Africa.

If elected to the Security Council, Norway will be a fair player and listen to the views of all sides.

We talk with countries, not about countries.

We work to find common solutions by consulting with member states, regardless of their size and location.

Norway has a long and deep commitment to the African continent. We are a committed friend supporting regional and continental peace efforts.

Building on our extensive experience in conflict resolution and peacebuilding, Norway will contribute to finding durable solutions through pragmatic diplomacy, and we will push for a more transparent, more inclusive and representative Security Council.


Norway is a small country. Our economy is medium sized. No matter how you look at it, we depend on international cooperation.

Climate change is a global reality that affects all of us. It is no longer possible to ignore the fact that climate change affects security. These security risks are already a reality for millions of people around the globe – and they are not going away.

Climate change is a threat multiplier. I saw this in my previous capacity as Defense Minister for four years. Many Defense Ministries has taken this idea on board a long time ago. They see how climate change relates to conflict patterns in a very dramatic way. The challenge is that it is a very difficult topic to get on the Security Council’s agenda. Over the last eight years, there has only been four thematic sessions on this topic. We believe that climate security issues must be addressed by the Security Council, and we support the appointment of a UN Special Representative for Climate and Security.

Over the last year, natural disasters have reminded us of the devastating effects of the climate crisis.

Many of your countries are still struggling with the consequences and aftermath of hurricanes Idai and Kenneth. Drought, desertification and land degradation represent other developments to be noted in the climate and security nexus.

Norway is therefore scaling up our efforts for climate change adaptation, resilience and food security in climate-vulnerable countries. For 2020, we are doubling our contribution to the Green Climate Fund. Maybe as important, is that we are working within the board to make the procedures and routines for accessing the fund easier. This is a huge challenge for many countries. No matter how much you pour into the Fund, if you are not able to access the money, it does not really help.


The celebration of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations next year provides us with an excellent opportunity to identify more precisely how we can work together to protect and reform the rules-based international order.

Increased cooperation on matters vital to reaching the Sustainable Development Goals is the reason behind the African-Nordic initiative.

The initiative aims to develop a joint declaration for a renewed African-Nordic commitment to a rules-based international order that coincides with the 75th anniversary of the UN next year. We have already reached out to you through this group here in New York, and also in capitals. The initiative also received backing from African and Nordic ministers in Tanzania on Friday.

A key event in the months to come will be a continental meeting, inviting African and Nordic countries to Addis Ababa next spring.

I know that some of you have come together to form a representative core group for the initiative, where you will – in dialogue with Nordic countries – sharpen the specific thematic areas where our interests align and the potential for increased cooperation is the greatest.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation for your interest in the initiative. I look forward to hearing your views. Your input is essential.

Another interest we share is further strengthening the partnership between the UN and the African Union.

I agree with Secretary-General Guterres when he says that the most important partnership that the UN has, is the partnership with the African Union.

Norway entered into a strategic partnership with the African Union back in 2015. Last year, we signed a framework agreement that has considerable resources attached to it. In 2017, we also appointed a designated AU Ambassador that is seated in Addis Ababa together with our bilateral Ambassador. That has provided us with valuable inputs as to how we can join forces in many of the important topics.

The UN and the AU have worked together for conflict prevention and crisis management since the establishment of the AU in 2002. The Joint UN-AU Framework for Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security was a milestone when it was signed in 2017. So is the African Union-United Nations Framework for the Implementation of Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The strong commitment by UN Secretary-General Guterres and AU Chairperson Faki to enhance the partnership is encouraging.

Supporting this partnership is a key priority for Norway. That is why we decided to establish a group of friends of the AU-UN partnership in Addis Ababa, together with Rwanda. Our experience so far is that the group has succeeded in facilitating information sharing and has contributed to increased knowledge about the cooperation between the two organisations.

We are currently reaching out to member states here in New York, in close cooperation with Egypt, the UN Secretariat and the AU Observer Mission, in order to prepare the ground for the establishment of a similar group here in New York.

When it comes to the UN-AU partnership, you – the group of African ambassadors to the UN in New York – hold unique and valuable competence and insight.

That is why your thoughts and analysis related to how the UN-AU partnership can be further strengthened, and how non-AU Member States like Norway can play a positive and constructive role, is so highly valued.


Norway does not seek partnerships because of candidatures – we have candidatures because we seek partnerships.

Much has changed since Norway last had a seat at the Security Council twenty years ago, in 2001-2002. And I think most of you who have had a seat since, can subscribe to the changing realities.

But our commitment to solving common problems through the United Nations and through international cooperation has not changed. If anything, it has grown stronger through the urgency of supporting and strengthening the system that provides benefits for all countries, big and small.

We are a small country with an independent voice.

We are a consistent partner to the UN.

We remain a strong supporter of a international rules-based order.

If elected to the Council, we will promote dialogue, listen to all parties and practice pragmatic diplomacy to find common ground.

We will reach out to non-members of the Security Council to hear their questions and concerns. We are grateful for any advice and inputs you can give us on being a creative and principled voice in support of conflict resolution in Africa in the Council.

Norway is ready to serve again on the Security Council.

We hope for your confidence and your support.

Thank you.


Norwegian Government