On June 1, 2012, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton traveled to Norway, the second stop on her trip to seven countries. In Oslo, Secretary Clinton delivered keynote remarks at a global health conference hosted by the Norwegian government titled, "A World in Transition: Charting a New Path in Global Health."
In her remarks, the Secretary urged both donor and partner countries to address global health differently than they have in the past and stressed the connection between maternal mortality, strong health systems, and country ownership. Secretary Clinton applauded U.S. participation in the Saving Mothers, Giving Life partnership, along with Merck for Mothers, Every Mother Counts, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and announced that the United States is committing $75 million to this partnership.
Secretary Clinton said, "...If you really want to know how strongly a country's health system is, look at the well-being of its mothers." She then continued, "Women's health means more than just maternal health and therefore we must look to improve women's health more generally, because it is an unfortunate reality that women often face great health disparities. And improving women's health has dividends for entire societies, from driving down child mortality rates to sparking economic growth."
Secretary Clinton then underscored the importance of country ownership in global health. She said:
"...We will achieve real gains in maternal health and global health more generally only with effective country ownership. Now, one or two programs in isolation are not enough. It takes an integrated, country-owned approach... To us, country ownership in health is the end state where a nation's efforts are led, implemented, and eventually paid for by its government, communities, civil society and private sector. To get there, a country's political leaders must set priorities and develop national plans to accomplish them in concert with their citizens, which means including women as well as men in the planning process. And these plans must be effectively carried out primarily by the country's own institutions, and then these groups must be able to hold each other accountable.
"...So while nations must ultimately be able to fund more of their own needs, country ownership is about far more than funding. It is principally about building capacity to set priorities, manage resources, develop plans, and carry them out. We are well aware that moving to full country ownership will take considerable time, patience, investment, and persistence."
Following her remarks at the global health conference, Secretary Clinton joined Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere for a press availability in which they discussed the Arctic, Afghanistan, Burma, Egypt, and NATO, among other topics. Secretary Clinton said, "One of the primary purposes of my being here today is to say thank you -- not only thank you to the Norwegian Government, but to the Norwegian people. The United States is very grateful for the leadership and partnership that we enjoy with Norway. On every issue, whether it be peace or security, human rights or development, we know that we can work with, count on, and make progress if we are teaming up with the Norwegians."
On June 2, Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Store traveled to Tromso, north of the Arctic Circle and home of the Arctic Council Permanent Secretariat. In Tromso, the Secretary and Foreign Minister discussed U.S.-Norwegian cooperation in the Arctic, including on climate change and the sustainable development of untapped resources. Secretary Clinton said:
"The United States and Norway are closely coordinating to ensure that the Arctic Council is a important and is the key place where nations gather to chart the future of the Arctic. We were very pleased to sign the first agreement that came out of the Arctic Council last year on the search-and-rescue responsibilities in the Arctic. We're working on a new agreement to deal with oil spills and other emergencies. But there's a big agenda that has to be addressed in a very deliberative but intensive way.
"Now back in the United States, the Obama Administration is pushing hard to ratify the Law of the Sea Convention, which has provided the international framework for exploring these new opportunities in the Arctic. We abide by the international law that undergirds the convention, but we think the United States should be a member, because the convention sets down the rules of the road that protect freedom of navigation, provide maritime security, serve the interests of every nation that relies on sea lanes for commerce and trade, and also sets the framework for exploration for the natural resources that may be present in the Arctic."
While in Norway, Secretary Clinton also met with young political leaders. You can view photographs of her meeting with the young leaders on the Norwegian Foreign Ministry's Flickr photostream; more photos of the Secretary's visit to Norway are available on U.S. Embassy Oslo's Facebook page.
On June 3, Secretary Clinton will travel to Stockholm, Sweden, for meetings with senior Swedish officials to discuss a range of issues, including green energy, Internet freedom, Afghanistan, and the Middle East. In Stockholm, she will also participate in a Climate and Clean Air Coalition event on short-lived climate pollutants. Follow @usembassysweden on Twitter and go to www.state.gov for more on her travel.