The UN Secretary-General and the Norwegian Prime Minister had a telephone conversation last night. The Secretary-General António Guterres raised the Norwegian government´s proposal of using a part of Norway´s aid budget to finance the costs of hosting refugees in Norway.
“The Secretary-General discussed the proposal of using a part of the aid budget to finance the costs of hosting refugees in Norway. Guterres underlined and recognized Norway´s longstanding and generous support of the UN, but expressed his worrises that one of the consequences was a cut in contributions to important UN organisations, including UNDP,“ the office of the Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said in a statement.
“The prime Minister listened to his opinions and assured him that it was important for Norway to continue its support of the UN both in the field and at headquarters.“
Last week, the Secretary-General said that a critical ingredient of the UN system’s ability to rescue the Sustainable Development Goals and provide humanitarian assistance is predictable and additional funding. He acknowledged that a number of donors have met and, in some cases, gone beyond the 0.7 per cent commitment to Overseas Development Aid (ODA).
SG warns against cuts in ODA
However, he added, there are recent indications that other Member States are making deep cuts of ODA, in a reversal of their commitment. This will have direct negative impacts on the achievements of the Sustainable Development Goals. This is alarming and the Secretary-General urges Member States to reconsider, given the dire consequences for the vulnerable among us in these turbulent times, his spokesperson said in a statement.
According to the United Nations Association of Norway the proposed cuts amount to 50% of the contributions to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), up to 75% to UNICEF and UN Women and 95% of contributions to the UN Development agency (UNDP). However, Norway´s contribution to the World Food Programme (WFP) is increased by 150%.
“In total it is a cut of 14% to UN organisations and this means that there will be less action towards the UN´s Sustainable Development Goals, peace and development in the world,“ says Ellen Sporstøl, acting Secretary-General of the Norwegian United Nations Associations.
The Norwegian government does not have a majority in parliament and will negotiate this weekend with the Socialist-left party (SV) over the 2022 budget.
SV´s foreign policy spokesperson Ingrid Fiskaa hopes the conversation with Guterres was a “wake-up call” for Støre.
“I hope the government will itself understand how serious this is. It is not only about development aid, it is also about the UN as a forum for international cooperation. If this is adopted, it would be a break with a longstanding foreign policy,“ Fiskaa told NRK televison news.