Since the mid-1990s, Norway has become increasingly involved in peace and reconciliation processes around the world. Today Norway is engaged in peace and reconciliation work in more than 20 countries. The efforts span many different types of work, but most entail bringing the parties closer together and bringing them to the negotiating table.
This is challenging, and measuring success is difficult. Sustainable peace cannot be achieved overnight. Not all peace processes culminate in a political solution, positive processes may backfire, and the parties may resort to arms rather than continue negotiations.
That is why the Norwegian commitment to peace and reconciliation is long-term and seek to establish durable solutions for those suffering under or at risk of conflict.
An important part of this work is also to work to strengthen international peace and security instruments, including those of the United Nations.
UN – a cornerstone
Much of Norway’s international peace and security efforts are channeled through the UN system.
The UN emphasises the rule of law, the integrity of the nation state, the primacy of justice over power, and the importance of resolving conflicts peacefully. For a small country like Norway, these are all important principles and an essential part of our foreign policy. It is therefore in our interests (as it is for many other countries) that the UN succeeds.
The UN is an important forum and the only global meeting place where the whole world comes together to address our common challenges.
Norway believes that the UN has a key role to play in coordinating efforts to bring about a better world, and that it is through the UN system that Norway can most effectively contribute to conflict resolution, peace and reconciliation.
Some may not be aware of the fact that the UN’s first Secretary-General – Trygve Lie – was Norwegian. And since, more than 60 000 Norwegians have participated in UN-coordinated peace operations. Financially, Norway is among the top five contributors to the UN.
Women, Peace and Security
Most of today’s conflicts are characterized by widespread and systematic attacks on the civilian population, including women and children. At the same time, an increasing number of women and girls are participating as combatants, either voluntarily or involuntarily.
Despite this, women are marginalized in conflict situations, and their roles and contributions to conflict resolution overlooked.
The women, peace and security agenda has been a key priority for the Norwegian Government for several years, and is to be integrated into the design and implementation of all Norwegian peace and security efforts. The Government launched the Action Plan for the Implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325 in 2006. In 2011, the Government launched the Strategic Plan on Women, Peace and Security 2011-2013. The Strategic Plan highlights some of the areas that are to be given particular priority over the next few years, with a special emphasis on promoting women’s participation in peace processes and negotiations. See also the Governments’ Action Plan for Women's rights and Gender Equality in Development Cooperation.
Arms control and disarmament in the areas of nuclear weapons, other weapons of mass destruction, and conventional weapons, is yet another important area of Norway’s international commitment. We pursue disarmament in accordance with international humanitarian law and human rights. Disarmament also makes very good sense from a humanitarian and economic perspective. It frees up substantial resources that can be used for human and social development.
Norway has been an active player in the work towards eliminating weapons that cause unacceptable humanitarian suffering (landmines and cluster munitions). We believe such weapons should have no place in today’s international security environment.
The Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention was adopted in Oslo on 18 September 1997.
In 2008, 107 states gathered in Dublin to adopt the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which prohibits all production, storage, export and use of cluster munitions. The process leading up to this is also called the Oslo Process because it all started with the Oslo Declaration.
The objective of Norway’s development policy is to fight poverty and bring about social justice. The Government has achieved its target of allocating 1 percent of gross national income (GNI) to international development.
The Government will continue to focus its efforts on priority areas where Norway can make the greatest contribution: the environment and sustainable development; peace building, human rights and humanitarian assistance; oil and clean energy; women and gender equality; good governance and the fight against corruption; and efforts to reach the health-related Millennium Development Goals. Norway places particular emphasis on efforts to fight climate change and deforestation.
This website provides more information about Norway’s development cooperation efforts. You will also find information at the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooparation (Norad).
The promotion of human rights and democratic principles is at the heart of Norwegian foreign policy. This policy is implemented both at the multilateral level – in forums such as the UN, the OSCE and the Council of Europe – and at country level.
Issues relating to human rights and democracy are a high priority in both foreign and development policy. Whether we are supporting human rights defenders, promoting freedom of speech, fighting the death penalty, or supporting the development of democratic constitutions and free elections, safeguarding human rights is the guiding principle. Priority target groups for Norwegian human rights efforts are human rights defenders, minorities, women, children and indigenous peoples.
A very important part of Norwegian foreign and international development policy is concerned with saving lives, alleviating want and protecting those who are in danger. Norwegian efforts are targeted at countries where there are great, unmet humanitarian needs, where Norway is particularly well placed to make a contribution, or where the measures concerned support peace and reconciliation processes.
Children, women, minorities and indigenous peoples are priority groups. The Government emphasizes that humanitarian assistance should be a supplement to, rather than a substitute for, political action.
The UN has a key role in the Government’s humanitarian policy. Supporting the Red Cross and NGOs is also an important part of Norway’s humanitarian efforts.
You can find more information regarding selected topics at the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
Other relevant links: