The Legal Affairs Department

The Legal Affairs Department provides legal expertise for the Government and the central government administration, and has particular responsibility for coordinating Norway’s positions on matters of international law in international forums.

The Department's central areas of work are the law of the sea, UN law, WTO law, EEA law, treaty law and issues of immunity, environmental law, human rights, international humanitarian law, international criminal law, and sanctions and restrictive measures.

Key tasks include giving guidance on the interpretation of international law and assisting in developing new international law obligations, often through negotiations with other states. The Department assists other ministries and central government institutions on matters relating to international law. It plays an important role in coordinating the preparation of Norwegian cases before international courts, and cooperates closely with the Office of the Attorney General on litigating cases before these bodies.

The Department currently has 38 members of staff grouped into three sections: the Section for Humanitarian and Criminal Law, the Section for Treaty Law, Environmental Law and the Law of the Sea, and the Section for EEA and Trade Law.

The Department is headed by Director General Helge Seland.

The department consists of the following sections

  • Section for Humanitarian and Criminal Law

    The Section's areas of responsibility include international criminal law, international law in armed conflict, and matters relating to the use of force, sanctions and restrictive measures. They also include legal issues relating to, inter alia, justice and home affairs cooperation, the fight against terrorism, the protection of human rights, export control, and the legal status of indigenous peoples

  • Section for Treaty Law, Environmental Law and the Law of the Sea

    Key areas of work include the international law of the sea, environmental law, the conclusion and interpretation of treaties, sovereignty and enforcement, maritime zones, the Norwegian continental shelf, international borders, privileges and immunities, and legal processes in the UN. The Section also deals with certain domestic law issues, particularly in the field of administrative law. The Unit for Treaties and Documentation (headed by Deputy Director Gunvor Pershus) is under the Section for Treaty Law, Environmental Law and the Law of the Sea. Its responsibilities include the treaty register and coordination of the Ministry's consultative comments.

  • Section for EEA and Trade Law

    Key areas of work include providing legal and procedural guidance in connection with the conclusion and interpretation of investment agreements and international agreements in the EU/EEA, Efta, and the WTO, and assessing the EEA relevance of new legislation to be incorporated in the EEA Agreement. It also works on cases to be brought before the Efta Surveillance Authority, the Efta Court, the European Court of Justice and the WTO Appellate Body. The Section also deals with matters relating to the World Intellectual Property Organization (Wipo), Uncitral and Unidroit. The Section is also responsible for chairing the EEA Legal Coordinating Committee, and participates in negotiations on Efta free trade agreements.