Meld. St. 37 (2014–2015)

Global security challenges in Norway’s foreign policy — Terrorism, organised crime, piracy and cyber threats

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1 Security in a more unpredictable world

In this white paper, the Government presents a more effective and coherent policy to address global security challenges in Norway’s foreign policy.

The global security landscape has changed fundamentally in the past few years. Security challenges are more complex than in the past. The effects of non-traditional security challenges such as terrorism, organised crime, piracy and cyber threats on global stability, security and development are becoming increasingly clear.

The brutality of the terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria and Iraq, and its recruitment of European citizens, is one example of how our security is to an increasing extent affected by non-traditional threats and criminal and often violent non-state actors. The dramatic developments in parts of the Middle East and Africa since 2011 are a reminder of what can happen when states are unable or unwilling to provide security and basic services for their populations. In countries and areas where the authorities fail to fulfil these fundamental responsibilities, there is fertile ground for extremist groups and criminal networks, which in turn can also pose a threat to Norwegian interests. Situations of conflict and lawlessness force people to flee from their homes and attract foreign terrorist fighters, including from Norway. In these mixed migration flows, there are also individuals who may represent a threat to Norway. Meanwhile, Norwegian citizens and companies are present in regions and countries that are affected by violent conflict and terrorism. Terrorism, organised crime, piracy and cyber threats are elements of a more difficult and complex foreign policy landscape, and also have clear domestic policy dimensions.

At the same time, traditional military threats are once again coming to the fore in our part of the world. Europe’s security has been undermined as a result of Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and destabilisation of eastern Ukraine. This will affect Norway’s security and foreign policy in the time ahead.

We are living in a period of great change and this places new demands on our foreign and development policy. We need to adapt our security policy to the new situation we are facing. Security and development are closely linked. For this reason, the Government intends to make far greater use of foreign policy instruments and foreign policy expertise and experience to promote stability and prevent radicalisation, violent extremism, organised crime and conflict than it has done in the past. Close cooperation with our allies and key partners is becoming increasingly important. Norway’s interests are best safeguarded within the framework of the UN and NATO, and through cooperation with transatlantic and European partners.

Global security challenges

In this white paper, ‘global security challenges’ refers to transnational phenomena that threaten the security of individuals, societies or states. These challenges arise due to the deliberate actions of both non-state and state actors – actions that are carried out with intent. These malicious acts may be economically, politically or ideologically motivated.

In this white paper, the Government has chosen to limit its discussion to four specific global security challenges: terrorism, organised crime, piracy and cyber threats. These stand out as particularly relevant and pressing, but they do not constitute a complete list of global security challenges. Nevertheless, these four challenges share certain important similarities, which means that they can usefully be analysed together and addressed using a common set of measures.

Terrorism, organised crime, piracy and cyber threats are not new phenomena. However, as a result of technological advances and globalisation they are having more serious transnational and global consequences.

Textbox 1.1 Key concepts

A ‘malicious act’ refers to an action carried out with intent. The intention may be malevolent or may be motivated by self-interest (ref. Norwegian Standard (NS) 5830:2012, produced by Standards Norway).

‘Risk’refers to events that may happen in the future and is therefore associated with uncertainty. The uncertainty relates to whether a specific malicious event will take place, and what the consequences of such an event would be. Risk is defined as an expression of the relationship between the threat to a given asset and the vulnerability of this asset to the specified threat. The risk of a malicious event taking place may change from year to year, depending on the risk assessment at the time. When assessing risk, it is the actor’s intention and capacity that are assessed. Risk assessments give an indication of the likelihood of a malicious event taking place.

‘Vulnerability’refers to the problems a system would have functioning if it were exposed to a malicious event, as well as the problems a system would have restoring its activity after such an event.1 In this context, a system could refer to a major organisational complex, such as a state or a local authority/community. A robust society is able to both resist and withstand malicious events, and to rapidly recover criticalsocietal functions after a breakdown in services. The ability to rapidly re-establish important functions following a malicious event is often referred to as organisational or social resilience.

1 NOU 2000: 24

Our security is more directly affected by developments in other countries and other parts of the world than it was in the past. Problems of governance and development, and weak state legitimacy in countries and regions that are affected by fragility, conflict and violence are increasingly becoming our own security concerns. Development policy thus has a clear security policy dimension.

Organised crime is an important source of funding for criminal non-state actors and threatens regional and international security. The proceeds from organised crime can be used to finance terrorist, militia and rebel groups. The activities of criminal networks are often a driving force behind local and regional conflicts. In countries with a high level of corruption, criminal networks are easily able to find allies and to further exploit the fragility of these states, often with the tacit acceptance or participation of key government officials. Developments in many states in the belt of land that spans from the Sahel region and North Africa via the Middle East to Central Asia have brought these issues to the fore, and have highlighted the fact that these challenges pose a threat to the stability of the entire region. They are transnational in nature and create a potential breeding ground for terrorism that represents a threat to Western democracies. According to a report to the UN Security Council by the Panel of Experts established pursuant to Security Council resolution 1973 (2011), human trafficking from Libya generated a total turnover of almost USD 170 million in 2014. Income from human trafficking is one of the most important sources of funding for armed groups in Libya. Trafficking networks have thus played a key role in creating the difficult situation now unfolding in the Mediterranean.

In a short space of time, digital advances have changed the way the international community works together and the way people interact to an extent that was unthinkable just a few years ago. Cyberspace, or the cyber domain, is an engine for promoting global trade, economic growth, democratic values and human rights, health services, education, good governance, and communication between people and between governments and citizens. In general, the changes it has brought about have been positive for both individuals and society as a whole. Both nationally and internationally, cyberspace is the most important platform for sharing and exchanging information, and is essential to a well-functioning society. The Arab Spring illustrated the power of the internet as a tool for social mobilisation and for stimulating political change. However, the development of cyberspace has exposed us to new and serious threats from both state and non-state actors. Our dependence on cyberspace has made us much more vulnerable than we were in the past, and it is to be expected that this vulnerability will increase in the future.

Textbox 1.2 Increase in digital activity

Over the last 20 years, we have witnessed an explosion in digital activities. In Norway today, more than 96 % of the population has access to the internet. This is one of the highest percentages in the world. Eritrea, where less than 1 % of the population has access to the internet, is at the other end of the scale. China is the country with the most internet users, with around 600 million users. Over the next five years, the number of people with access to the internet is expected to increase primarily in developing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

Number of people/percentage of the world’s population with access to the internet:

  • 1995: 44 million, less than 1 %

  • 2000: 413 million, 6.7 %

  • 2002: 600 million, 10 %

  • 2010: 2 billion, 29 %

  • 2014: 3 billion, 40 %

  • Estimate for 2020: 5 billion, 60%


Globalisation has strengthened the links between the various global security challenges. These challenges often arise in similar circumstances and can therefore easily compound one another, particularly in countries where state legitimacy and governance are weak. Today, for example, we are seeing the way in which cybercrime, piracy and terrorism are fuelled by, and closely linked to organised crime. The fact that ISIL has been financing its campaign of terror through the illegal sale of oil and antiquities, and has been spreading its extremist ideology in the social media, is a clear indication of the strength of these ties.

Textbox 1.3 Hybrid warfare

The combination of conventional warfare and covert attempts at destabilisation through the use of indirect and non-military means is referred to as hybrid warfare. It is difficult to predict or prepare for this kind of warfare. Hybrid warfare tends to involve well planned and coordinated use of a broad spectrum of conventional and unconventional methods. These may include the use of regular soldiers in unmarked uniforms, information warfare, special forces, cyber attacks and economic measures. Criminal and terrorist activities may be used to achieve strategic goals. Smuggling networks are also used by state actors to provide weapons or other resources to parties to a conflict. Cartels and criminal gangs often have a culture of violence and experience of fighting and can thus be made use of in hybrid warfare. The use of unconventional strategies, methods, tactics or practices makes it difficult to identify which state is behind these activities.

We are seeing different elements from a wide range of traditional and non-traditional methods being combined. So-called hybrid warfare is not a new concept, but it blurs the dividing lines between peace, conflict and war. Russia’s actions in Ukraine exemplify the way in which states too are increasingly using hybrid warfare tactics, involving criminal non-state actors and their methods, in order to achieve strategic objectives. Our policy must take into consideration the fact that this approach of combining traditional and non-traditional methods is likely to continue to be used and further developed in the future.

The range of transnational challenges that affect our security is wide, and we have therefore had to limit the discussion in this white paper to four specific challenges, as mentioned above. Climate change, health problems and migration also have clear implications for security policy. Climate change poses difficult and complex risks globally. The impacts of climate change exacerbate poverty and environmental degradation, and can spur social unrest, which in turn can lead to increased violence and terrorism. It is people living in poverty in developing countries who are being hit hardest by climate change. We are already seeing clear evidence of the effects of climate change in the form of increasing devastation caused by extreme weather events, including intense precipitation and flooding, stronger competition for fish resources, more health problems, and shortages of food and water. It is only to be expected that natural disasters, more frequent extreme weather events, epidemics such as Ebola, and competition for water and land will increasingly destabilise societies and heighten the risk of conflict in the future. Climate change also has implications for Norwegian interests in vulnerable parts of the world. Both environmental and health problems may lead to greater unemployment, undermine confidence in national and local authorities, encourage criminal activity, intensify competition for resources, and increase the risk of conflict and war. Many people are being forced to flee from areas where it is no longer possible to live, and this is heightening the risk of conflict. The world is now seeing the largest refugee flows since the Second World War. Many are trying to reach Europe, particularly from Africa and Syria. Climate change, health problems and the underlying causes of migration are not, however, discussed in detail in this white paper.

The purpose of this white paper

The overarching goal of Norwegian foreign policy is to safeguard and promote Norway’s interests – our values, our security and our welfare.

The main objective of this white paper is to contribute to our collective security. The impact of global security challenges on Norway, and on our security and interests, is becoming increasingly clear. The raising of the terror alert level in Norway in summer 2014, the alarmingly high number of foreign terrorist fighters with ties to Norway who have travelled to Iraq and Syria, the more frequent and more advanced cyber attacks targeting Norwegian companies, and the tragic attack in In Amenas in 2013 illustrate the ways in which global challenges are directly affecting Norway. Norwegian vessels sail in pirate-infested waters. Norwegian citizens abroad, whether they are tourists, employees, aid workers or personnel serving in international operations, can all be affected.

This is the first Norwegian white paper to deal with the issues of terrorism, organised crime, piracy and cyber threats together and to examine them from a foreign policy perspective. It is intended to promote the development of a more effective and coherent policy to address global security challenges. Effective action requires coordinated and strategic use of knowledge and experience gained from development cooperation and intelligence work, and of foreign, defence and justice policy instruments. Achieving this will increase our relevance as a partner in our cooperation with our allies and other international partners.

Terrorism, organised crime, piracy and cyber threats will continue to be a part of the complex threat landscape in the future. This white paper provides a basis for long-term efforts to address these challenges with a focus on knowledge and analysis, better coordination at national level, broad international cooperation and capacity building in relevant countries and regions. Our security policy must be designed to manage both traditional and non-traditional threats. Today, more than ever before, the world is characterised by interdependence and shared vulnerability. As the process of globalisation continues, national borders are becoming less important. Globalisation and increased trade have brought countries closer together, as we have seen in Europe. Increased trade and economic integration are important factors in explaining why global GDP has doubled since 1995 and the number of people living in extreme poverty has halved since 1996. Globalisation and closer integration have led to greater freedom of movement, and have made it easier for knowledge, goods and services to be shared across national borders. This has brought many benefits, but it also has implications for foreign and security policy that need to be addressed.

This white paper is intended to strengthen Norway’s contribution to international stability, peace and development. The present situation where the sovereignty, governance and stability of other states is being undermined, and more and more areas are being taken over by violent non-state actors, also has negative consequences for Norway. Conflicts are spreading across borders and drawing in neighbouring countries, which in turn is affecting the balance of power at regional level. This has implications for our efforts to promote human rights, growth and development. The international community must work together to build a robust framework for stability and security. International and regional actors need to strengthen their capacity to prevent and combat terrorism, organised crime, piracy and cyber threats.

Textbox 1.4 Other relevant documents

  • Focus 2015. Annual Assessment by the Norwegian Intelligence Service

  • Meld. St. 35 (2014–2015) Working together: Private sector development in Norwegian development cooperation (white paper – summary only in English)

  • Meld. St. 10 (2014–2015) Opportunities for All: Human Rights in Norway’s Foreign Policy and Development Cooperation (white paper – summary only in English)

  • Meld. St. 25 (2013–2014) Education for Development (white paper)

  • Meld. St. 22 (2013–2014) White paper on Norway’s participation in the 68th UN General Assembly (Norwegian only)

  • Meld. St. 21 (2012–2013) White paper on Norway’s terrorism preparedness (Norwegian only)

  • The Directorate for Civil Protection and Emergency Planning’s national risk assessment for 2014 (Nasjonalt risikobilde 2014. Norwegian only)

  • The new long-term plan for the defence sector (available in spring 2016)

  • The Norwegian police environmental scan 2015 (Politiets omverdenanalyse 2015. Available in September 2015)

  • The report of the committee appointed to review digital vulnerability in Norway (available in September 2015 – Norwegian only)

  • Norway’s National Action Plan onWomen, Peace and Security 2015–18

  • The Norwegian Government’s Action Plan against Radicalisation and Violent Extremism

  • Risk assessment for 2015 by the Norwegian National Security Authority (Risiko 2015. Norwegian only)

  • Risk assessment by the Norwegian Police Security Service (Åpen trusselvurdering 2015. Norwegian only).

Goals and principles of Norway’s efforts

In its intensified efforts to address global security challenges, Norway has taken an integrated approach, in line with the overriding principles of its foreign and development policy.

Norway has a strong tradition of participating in multilateral cooperation and in efforts to promote a world order based on the rule of law. The Government will continue to work to increase the effectiveness of international and regional organisations. We are supporting efforts to modernise and strengthen the UN and to ensure that NATO remains relevant and capable of meeting the entire spectrum of threats. We are also working actively to promote close cooperation with the EU and our Nordic neighbours in the areas of foreign and security policy. Our efforts abroad must tie in with the measures we are implementing at national level and our national needs.

Through international cooperation, Norway will help to make countries and organisations better equipped to prevent, respond to and combat global security challenges. Local ownership is vital in this context. Our efforts need to be particularly targeted towards countries and regions that are affected by fragility, conflict and violence, to prevent them from becoming breeding grounds for global security threats. Achieving stability and lasting positive change in areas like these is difficult and takes time. Support must be long-term, must be provided on the basis of a thorough risk assessment, and must have realistic aims. We also need to make use of foreign policy instruments in relevant countries and areas to prevent the rise of violent extremism. A focus on risk management, particularly risk factors such as corruption and financial irregularities, is essential.

Global security challenges are undermining the ability of states to protect the human rights of their citizens. We will help to make states better equipped to prevent and combat terrorism, organised crime, piracy and cyber threats, and thus strengthen their ability to safeguard the human rights of their citizens. Our work will be carried out in accordance with the principles of the rule of law and our obligations under international law, including human rights and humanitarian law.

Our efforts must be designed to safeguard women’s rights. Discrimination and violence against women often increase in situations where security is threatened. Despite the fact that undermining women’s rights is part of the ideology of many terrorist groups, there is often a deliberate effort to recruit women.

A forward-looking policy

Globalisation and technological development are constantly opening up new opportunities, but are also creating new types of risk and new vulnerabilities. In the years ahead, there will be high expectations of the authorities’ ability to prevent, respond to and combat global security threats. Our efforts to prevent and combat terrorism, organised crime, piracy and cyber threats are also part of our new, forward-looking development policy.

The Government will promote a more effective and more coherent effort to address global security challenges, based on four main elements: knowledge and analysis, national-level coordination, international cooperation, and capacity building.

More knowledge and analysis is needed in order to gain a deeper understanding of the security challenges we are facing, and of how these affect Norway and Norwegian interests. In order to develop the best possible analysis of key security challenges and their possible consequences, we need to take a coherent approach and we need to cooperate with a range of actors at both national and international level. Our analysis must be based on extensive knowledge about the nature of the threats we are facing, their causes and evolution, the national and regional implications of these threats, and the objectives and strategies of the various actors involved. Input will be needed from the business sector, academia and civil society. It is crucial to increase information sharing between the relevant actors in order to form a coherent body of knowledge in this area. The Government will support efforts to increase knowledge about global security challenges in Norwegian and international research and analysis communities, and will allocate more R&D funding to work in this field. We will promote the recruitment of more Norwegian experts to relevant international organisations. We will establish a national expert group to analyse how organised crime is affecting countries where Norway has foreign and development policy interests.

Preventing and combating global security challenges will require better coordination at national level. This means greater exchange of information and experience between ministries and government agencies, a more coherent policy and better coordinated use of policy instruments. A broad range of instruments, including development, justice, and defence policy instruments will need to be considered. We will, for example, further develop the Joint Counter Terrorism Centre, which was established to formalise cooperation between the Norwegian Police Security Service and the Norwegian Intelligence Service. We will also set up a group to coordinate Norwegian positions in international cyber policy with a view to strengthening efforts to promote Norwegian interests and values in the digital space at international level. We will draw up an international strategy for cyberspace for Norway.

The efforts to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia have demonstrated the advantages of combining a broad range of measures and the importance of close cooperation with the business sector. The Government will therefore continue its efforts to prevent a resurgence of piracy in the West Indian Ocean. The Government has directed its anti-piracy efforts towards West Africa, as piracy is still not under control in this region. Meanwhile, the piracy problem in South East Asia is getting worse. The Government will therefore consider how we can become more closely involved in regional cooperation on maritime security in South East Asia. The Government will also support efforts to strengthen NATO’s ability to take part in the efforts to combat piracy. In this connection, it is vital to consider alternative approaches. The role of the Standing NATO Maritime Groups is primarily to fulfil the Alliance’s military tasks, and their combat capacity should be strengthened through relevant training and exercises. The Government will also consider how Norway can best cooperate with the EU on maritime security.

Norway will work with other countries and partners to promote security and development. We will help to prevent and combat global security challenges through broad international cooperation with other states, as well as with organisations, the private sector, think-tanks and researchers. The international community must work together to build the right conditions for stability and growth. Norway’s efforts will be part of a broader international effort. This will make it possible to achieve greater results than we could achieve on our own. Our most important arenas and partners in this work include the UN, NATO, and like-minded transatlantic, European and Nordic countries.

As part of its work in this area, the Government is establishing a development programme to prevent and combat organised crime and illicit trade. The programme will be established in 2016 and its budget will gradually be increased to NOK 100 million a year. The aim is to build analysis capacity, develop systems for sharing information and implement targeted measures in the police, customs authorities and judiciary in the countries and regions concerned.

The Government will also launch another development programme to prevent radicalisation, violent extremism and terrorism in countries and areas affected by fragility, conflict and violence. The programme will be established in 2016 and its budget will gradually be increased to NOK 100 million a year. The aim of the programme will be to create resilient and inclusive societies, prevent conflict, and stabilise areas where terrorist organisations have lost their foothold. It is crucial to take a long-term approach to efforts of this kind, and to strengthen international and regional cooperation, through organisations such as the UN and the African Union (AU). The programme will also seek to strengthen the security and justice sector, including the police, the prosecuting authorities, the courts, the prison system and border control authorities. Targeted measures will be implemented to prevent the financing of extremist groups and the activities of foreign terrorist fighters. The Government’s intensified focus on promoting education in its development policy should also be seen as an important part of its work to prevent radicalisation, violent extremism and conflict.

In 2015, the UN Millennium Development Goals are to be replaced by a new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the period up to 2030. The new development agenda will be at the heart of the UN’s future role and its efforts to promote sustainable development. War and conflict are the greatest obstacle to development. In the negotiations on the SDGs the need to address global security challenges in order to promote development has been recognised. The Government is seeking to ensure that the post-2015 agenda includes a separate goal on promoting peaceful and inclusive societies, and that combating all forms of organised crime forms part of this. The Government will then work to secure an amendment of the OECD guidelines for official development assistance to take this into account.

By supporting capacity and institution building, the Government will help developing countries to address global security challenges and strengthen their prospects for economic growth and prosperity. Terrorism, organised crime, piracy and cyber threats impede development and make states and areas more vulnerable. Helping to build up legitimate and effective institutions and inclusive political processes is no easy task. A broad, long-term approach is needed, involving the use of a range of policy instruments to fight corruption and promote good governance. Capacity building in the security and defence sector in fragile states and states in conflict is essential to increase the ability of these countries to maintain their own security and prevent security threats from destabilising whole regions. The Government will help to ensure that more developing countries are better able to make use of the opportunities that a secure, free and open internet can offer. We will enhance the ability of affected countries to prevent, respond to and combat cyber threats, and we will involve businesses, researchers and civil society organisations in this work. We will help to ensure that the capacity needed to fight all types of organised crime is built up in priority countries and regions. We recognise the importance of the efforts of Interpol and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to build regional capacity and develop global and regional networks for cooperation between customs, police and prosecuting authorities in a number of developing countries and regions, and we will increase our support to these organisations. This kind of capacity and cooperation is crucial if states are to be able to investigate and prosecute serious and organised crime that is linked to illegal activities in other countries. We will support efforts that result in more strategic use of UN Security Council tools and ensure exchange of relevant information and analyses with other organisations. This will enable us to achieve the best possible implementation of UN sanctions regimes to combat serious and organised crime.

Textbox 1.5 The New Deal

The New Deal for Engagement for Fragile States was launched at the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea in 2011. The New Deal identified a new set of peacebuilding and statebuilding goals: legitimate politics, security, justice, economic foundations, and revenues and services. Norway supported the adoption of the New Deal in Busan because these goals are largely consistent with our goals and reflect our desire to see greater focus on fragile states in international aid. So far, 45 states have endorsed the New Deal, as have the EU, the OECD, the UN Development Group, the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

As part of our work to concentrate Norway’s aid efforts, the Government has identified 12 focus countries for Norway’s development cooperation. These have been divided into two categories: the first group consists of six fragile states, where our main emphasis will be on stabilisation and state- and peace-building; the second group comprises six countries that are already undergoing a process of development, where our focus will be on private sector development and resource and revenue management. The Government will give particular attention and priority to fragile states in its foreign, security and development policy. One important objective is to enhance the ability of these countries to prevent and combat terrorism, organised crime, piracy and cyber threats. The Government will base its cooperation with fragile states on the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States and the UN Security Council resolutions on women, peace and security. This strategic focus on fragile states ties in closely with the purpose of this white paper.

It is assumed that the policy and measures described in this white paper will be funded within the current budget framework.

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