Norwegian humanitarian policy in a time of crises

A greater number of protracted armed conflicts, declining respect for international humanitarian law, accelerating climate change and record numbers of people experiencing food shortages and hunger. This is the bleak backdrop for Norway’s new humanitarian strategy.

Bilde av gruppe av mennesker som går på en vei langs ruiner av bygninger
Forcibly displaced civilians on their way from Gaza City to southern Gaza Strip during the temporary ceasefire in November 2023. Credit: ICRC/Abed Zagout

‘Norway will continue to be a leading partner with a clearly defined humanitarian policy. We are helping to save lives and protect civilians around the world with the help of Norwegian and international partners. This new strategy has a greater focus on food security and achieving a quicker response to expected catastrophes to avoid hunger. Beyond that, Norway will do more to ensure that acute humanitarian assistance, conflict resolution and long-term assistance are considered together. In that way, fewer people will need emergency aid in the future,’ said Minister of International Development Anne Beathe Kristiansen Tvinnereim.

The most important new feature in the Norwegian humanitarian strategy is increased efforts against hunger. The global food shortage is worse than has been the case for many years, with hunger crises now affecting some 300 million people. Over the next five years, Norway will strengthen its efforts to avert future hunger crises while helping to mitigate the accelerating consequences of climate change for world food security.     

‘It is more important than ever to stand up for the principles for humanitarian assistance. The rules of war protect civilians in armed conflicts. The principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence make it possible for aid workers to help civilians even as war rages. This new strategy establishes that Norway is to be a clear and consistent voice in support of these values internationally. These values save lives,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide.   

The strategy contains 53 follow-up points for Norwegian humanitarian efforts in the coming five years. Efforts to protect civilians from violence and other forms of abuse will be continued. The Government will make active use of humanitarian diplomacy in its efforts to promote respect for, and the further development of, international law.

‘Norway will continue to work to achieve more focused and effective humanitarian efforts. While there has been a sharp increase in the number of conflicts and people in need of humanitarian aid, the international system has also become much better at getting help to those who need it. But we must also be better at involving local organisations when working in crisis areas. They know best what the needs are, and they are there to rebuild the communities when the crisis is over,’ said Ms Tvinnereim.