This came in a telephone conversation tonight between UN Secretary-General António Guterres and Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre (Labor).
The two discussed the war in Ukraine and how it affected global food supplies, but also the Norwegian government’s latest proposal was to cut off international aid.
The Secretary-General has taken up the proposal that part of the development assistance budget should be used to fund refugees in Norway, the Prime Minister’s Office wrote in a small statement tonight.
Guterres stressed and acknowledged Norway’s long-term and comprehensive support for the United Nations, but was concerned that one consequence of this is budget cuts for key UN organizations, including the UN development program UNDP, he said.
– I listened to his assessment and assured that Norway will place great emphasis on continuing to support the UN, both in the field and at headquarters, Støre said in an SMS to NRK.
The government has proposed to increase the development assistance budget by NOK 3.6 billion from its revised national budget for 2022. In total, the budget will then be NOK 44.9 billion.
But 5.8 billion in aid will be sent to Norwegian municipalities to fund the reception of Ukrainian refugees.
This means that people receiving aid in other countries receive less than what was actually adopted in this year’s budget in December.
SV: Hope it was an alarm clock
The government does not have a majority in the Storting and will be in the weekend of negotiations with SV on the 2022 budget.
SV’s foreign policy spokeswoman Ingrid Fiskaa hopes the conversation with Guterres was a wake-up call for Støre. He says SV has received signals from several quarters that there are major concerns at the UN over the proposed cuts.
– One is very surprised by the brutal cuts proposed for several UN organizations, not least UNDP, Fiskaa told NRK.
– What guarantee can you give that SV can make about this in the negotiations?
– I hope that the government itself realizes this gravity. It is not only about aid but also about the UN as an arena for international cooperation. If this cut goes through, it will be a break with a long line of foreign policy, says Fiskaa.
It is feared that Norway’s reputation at the United Nations will suffer a major setback if the aid plan is maintained.
The United Nations cut 14 percent
In total, the government has reduced aid to UN organizations by NOK 850 million. Thus, several UN bodies must endure major reductions:
- All the basic support of NOK 440 million more United Nations Development Program (UNDP) will cut.
- Support United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) reduced by 72 percent, which is equivalent to 357.5 million.
- United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) will have the support reduced from 197 to 98.5 million.
- Another cut 75.2 million United Nations Organization for Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (UN Women).
Although support for the World Food Program has increased by $ 600 million, the total is a 14 percent cut at various UN organizations, according to the United Nations. WHO must also withstand a cut of 118 million kronor.
In other respects, “health” and “education” will be cut by a total of just over NOK 1 billion in government proposals.
At the same time, aid to Ukraine and neighboring countries will increase by NOK 1.75 billion.
While SV believes the proposal is unsympathetic, the government defended its proposal when the budget was presented.
– Even if we re-prioritize NOK 4 billion that we will use well-cared for Ukrainian refugees in Norway, we have a record high budget aid, said Minister for Development Aid Anne Beate Tvinnereim (Sp).
– We will use it to fight hunger, improve food security, relieve distress and provide protection, in addition to efforts for climate adaptation and long-term development.
Already when the revised national budget was presented before the weekend, there was a strong reaction from the aid industry and the United Nations in Norway to the cuts.
– The cuts will make it more difficult for those most in need of help, says Ellen Sporstøl, the UN’s acting secretary-general.
41 aid organizations came out of a joint call before the budget was presented. They were opposed to cuts in international aid.
– Never before has Norway cut off all basic support for a United Nations organization without proper consultation and process. The cut is completely incomprehensible to us.
This was stated by director Arvinn Gadgil of the UNDP Oslo Governance Center.