Norway PM chides China obliquely; asserts might is not right


New Delhi: Norway on Tuesday commended India for adhering to the international rules of law with respect to the law of seas and indirectly pulled up China for using might as right.

“When large countries respect international law, smaller countries take note. The principle of ‘might is right’ cannot be used as a basis for governing our oceans, or anything else, for that matter,” Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said at the key-note address at the fourth edition of the Raisina Dialogue in presence of PM Narendra Modi here on Tuesday night.

Earlier in the day, India and Norway signed a pact to launch the oceans dialogue. “India and Norway share democratic values and an emphasis on international norms and laws,” Solberg said.

Alluding to the fact that rules-based international order has served Norway well, the visiting premier said: “A concrete example is the settlement of the maritime boundary dispute between Norway and Russia in 2010. Our disputed maritime claims were in areas with an abundance of natural resources. Achieving an agreement was not easy, but it was in our mutual interest. The agreement is important for our future blue economy.”

These remarks are significant in the context of China’s attempts to undermine the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) regarding disputes in the South China Sea (SCS) region and its refusal to accept the 2016 UNCLOS verdict in a China-vs-Philippines case. Chinese behaviour in the SCS has threatened the freedom of navigation and its BRI through land and seas is viewed increasingly as a tool to dominate geo-politics.

“Successful cooperation depends on a robust and predictable legal and institutional framework in the ocean space. The UNCLOS provides the legal framework for ocean diplomacy…. We commend India for respecting the rulings of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea on the question of disputed maritime areas,” the Norwegian PM said, alluding to a peaceful settlement of the Indo-Bangladesh maritime dispute.

Solberg also pitched for free global trade amid US protectionist tendencies. “We cannot afford to let protectionism, discrimination and economic rivalry define our future. Norway and India both benefit from rules-based international trade. We stand only to lose if this is undermined,” she said.

“The WTO is essential for Norway and our interaction with the world. I believe rules-based trade is just as important for our partners. Free trade creates winners. Protectionism does not. In order to benefit all, rights, rules and responsibilities must be modernised to fit our current global economy.”

The three-day (January 8-10) Raisina Dialogue on geo-politics and geo-economics, co-hosted by the ministry of external affairs and the Observer Research Foundation, has foreign ministers of Spain, Iran, Australia, Mongolia and Nepal as participants, besides their Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj.

Other global leaders taking part in the conference include former prime ministers Tony Blair (Britain), Paolo Gentiloni (Italy), Stephen Harper (Canada) and Carl Bildt (Sweden) and former Afghan president Hamid Karzai. Malaysian leader Anwar Ibrahim, who is tipped to succeed incumbent Mahathir Bin Mohamad, will deliver the valedictory address. Ministers and leaders from Africa, West Asia, the US, Europe and Russia are among the speakers at the dialogue.

More than 2,000 guests, including 600 delegates and speakers from over 92 countries, are taking part in this year’s dialogue curated around the theme — A World Re-order: New Geometrics, Fluid Partnerships, Uncertain Outcomes.


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