Report No. 40 to the Storting (2008-2009)

Norway’s Humanitarian Policy

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5 Norway’s humanitarian priorities

Main goals

As an actor in the field of humanitarian policy and a financial donor, Norway is facing a number of large and complex challenges. In cooperation with others, we will:

  • ensure that people in need are given the necessary protection and assistance

  • fund humanitarian assistance based on the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence

  • equip the international community to meet the global humanitarian challenges of the future

  • prevent, respond to and initiate reconstruction following humanitarian crises.

In order to achieve these goals, Norway will give priority to the following areas:

5.1 A global humanitarian system

As long as the international humanitarian system is dominated by a few Western donor countries, it will not be capable of dealing with future humanitarian challenges.

New humanitarian alliances

Humanitarian principles are universal. They do not belong to a specific cultural group. While all the world’s major religions and faiths contain elements of humanitarian values, it is largely donor countries from the North and the West that have defined the humanitarian system as we know it today.

The humanitarian system will also have to be globalised in order to deal with the global humanitarian challenges, not least in light of climate and environmental change and the growing number of natural disasters. Countries that are vulnerable to humanitarian disasters and that have experienced extensive humanitarian crises will be valuable partners in the work of further developing the humanitarian system. We therefore wish to build new humanitarian alliances, contribute to broader support for the humanitarian principles and foster understanding for the necessity of the humanitarian space.

The white paper on the main features of Norwegian foreign policy states that the G20 countries’ growing economic and political influence should also result in them taking greater international responsibility for reducing poverty and vulnerability. 1 There are tendencies towards greater humanitarian efforts in G20, for example through bilateral contributions to the UN Emergency Relief Fund (CERF), but these efforts are still at a low level and irregular. Many of the G20 countries are far from reaching the UN’s goal of 0.7 per cent of GDP being spent on international assistance. Together with the UN and like-minded countries, we wish to involve the G20 countries in humanitarian efforts in the years ahead.

Today, the EU’s humanitarian body, the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Office, ECHO, is the world’s biggest humanitarian actor. ECHO’s humanitarian budget for 2009 is approximately NOK 6.8 billion. The EU has increased its humanitarian efforts by developing a joint position on both humanitarian response and prevention, and it has established forums for cooperation. Norway now has a good expert dialogue with the most important EU countries in the humanitarian area, and it cooperates well with ECHO in multilateral forums. It will be natural for Norway to intensify its dialogue with ECHO in order to improve coordination of the international humanitarian efforts.

The Government will

  • endeavour to expand the circle of donors by including non-Western donors and to strengthen the dialogue with countries affected by humanitarian crises

  • follow up and strengthen cooperation with China and other priority countries on climate adaptation and the prevention of natural disasters in accordance with the white paper Norwegian policy on the prevention of humanitarian crises

  • intensify the dialogue with the EU and other central humanitarian donors on increased humanitarian assistance.

Continued support for the UN and continued humanitarian reform

Norway’s efforts to reform and improve the UN’s humanitarian work are a central part of our UN policy. In addition to its normative work, the UN plays a pivotal role in coordinating humanitarian assistance at country level. A well-functioning UN and close cooperation between the UN and NGOs are essential in order to ensure an effective humanitarian response.

The strengthening of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), new coordination mechanisms such as the sector approach, new and innovative financing arrangements, and a better and more equitable partnership between the UN and NGOs are examples of the results of humanitarian reform which Norway has supported and contributed to.

A great deal has been achieved, but much remains to be improved. There should be greater focus on strengthening national preparedness and response capacity in countries that repeatedly experience humanitarian disasters. We should also contribute to more coordinated and strategic UN-led aid in protracted crises and transitional situations.

The Government will

  • make substantial, predictable contributions to the UN Central Emergency Response Fund, humanitarian country funds and UN humanitarian appeals, and help to further develop financing arrangements

  • be an active, critical partner for the UN agencies in further efforts to reform the humanitarian system with a view to improving the effectiveness and capacity of the UN’s humanitarian response

  • accept offices and responsibilities in the most important humanitarian organisations, including chairing the OCHA Donor Support Group (ODSG)

  • work to improve coordination between the UN’s humanitarian arm and the UN’s development activities in order to achieve a unified UN at country level, better handling of transitional situations and to attain the UN Millennium Development Goals

  • continue to promote further development of the UN’s multi-dimensional, integrated peace operations in order to achieve a coherent approach in the field in which humanitarian considerations are also taken into account

  • support the UN’s plan for food security (Comprehensive Framework for Action) and strengthen cooperation with national authorities in order to deal with the global food crisis.

Figure 5.1 The ten largest donors to the UN Central Emergency Response Fund, which is tasked with responding rapidly to new humanitarian crises and providing support in connection with underfunded/forgotten crises. Figures for the period 2006-2008 in USD.

Figure 5.1 The ten largest donors to the UN Central Emergency Response Fund, which is tasked with responding rapidly to new humanitarian crises and providing support in connection with underfunded/forgotten crises. Figures for the period 2006-2008 in USD.


5.2 Respect for humanitarian principles

The humanitarian space is under considerable pressure. Norway will promote respect for humanitarian principles and international humanitarian law, and it will work to promote a clearer division of roles between humanitarian organisations, other civil society actors and the military in increasingly complex situations.

A more complex humanitarian system

The humanitarian system is changing. The number of NGOs with different value bases is growing, and untraditional actors, such as military forces, civil-military stabilisation teams, national and local authorities, private security companies etc., are playing a greater role. In particular, the growing use of private contractors in connection with various reconstruction initiatives in conflict situations, such as in Iraq and Afghanistan, represents a challenge for both the established humanitarian system and international humanitarian law.

We have witnessed a gradual politicisation of the humanitarian space, not least in countries associated with the “global war on terror”. Humanitarian aid workers no longer enjoy the same protection as their role previously afforded them. In several areas, humanitarian actors are not seen as being neutral and independent, and the local population has problems distinguishing between the different international actors. This has serious consequences for aid workers’ security and for their access to those affected.

The Government will:

  • continue its efforts to ensure as coherent an approach as possible to the division of roles between humanitarian organisations, other types of civil contributions and military peacekeeping forces

  • promote the use of the UN guidelines for military contributions to humanitarian operations, which set clear limits on such contributions

  • work to ensure that humanitarian access and the protection of aid workers is on the agenda in important international forums, the UN in particular

  • together with other humanitarian donors and organisations, consider the consequences for humanitarian efforts of the use of private security companies

  • strengthen the dialogue with untraditional humanitarian actors and donors, and contribute to increased international support for humanitarian principles.

Strengthen international humanitarian law and support the Red Cross movement

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is one of the main channels for Norwegian humanitarian assistance in crisis and conflict situations. The ICRC is also the most important individual organisation in relation to ensuring a well-functioning humanitarian system based on international humanitarian law. The ICRC is a key partner for Norway in the further development of humanitarian law, including humanitarian disarmament. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) also plays a particularly important role in helping local communities affected by natural disasters. Together with the Norwegian Red Cross, Norway can help to strengthen respect for international humanitarian law, both nationally and internationally.

The Government will:

  • respect and promote respect for international humanitarian law and counter attempts to undermine it

  • support the unique position of the ICRC as defender of the humanitarian principles

  • cooperate with the ICRC on measures aimed at ensuring compliance with and further development of international humanitarian law

  • further develop the tripartite cooperation between the Norwegian authorities, the Norwegian Red Cross and the ICRC, and supplement it with closer cooperation with the ICRC, among other things through increased direct financing

  • take on offices and responsibilities to support the mandate and role of the Red Cross movement, including chairing the ICRC Donor Support Group in 2009-2010.

5.3 Humanitarian disarmament

The economic, social and humanitarian consequences are enormous when people are unable to lead normal lives because of unexploded cluster munitions, abandoned landmines or because illicit small arms get into the wrong hands. Humanitarian disarmament is one of the main themes of Norway’s humanitarian diplomacy.

Humanitarian disarmament is disarmament motivated by humanitarian and development considerations. It is also a concrete application of the humanitarian rules for the protection of civilians. The Government is strengthening the various Norwegian initiatives relating to humanitarian disarmament and armed violence by combining its efforts in this field. The Mine Ban Convention, the Convention on Cluster Munitions and processes and initiatives relating to armed violence and small arms and light weapons are part of our work for humanitarian disarmament. Norway played an important part in the work on both the Mine Ban Convention and the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

“Armed violence” is a generic term that includes the use of small arms, explosives, mines, cluster munitions and other conventional weapons. According to the UNDP, more than two million people die or suffer mutilation every year as a result of armed violence, which is a pressing humanitarian and development problem. In the UN’s view, the use of armed violence is one of the largest obstacles to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. What the various issues relating to armed violence have in common is that civilians are affected in an unacceptable manner through violations of human rights and humanitarian law and that the use of violence is the direct cause of human suffering and lack of development.

The Government will:

  • strengthen implementation of the Mine Ban Convention through Norway’s chairmanship of the Convention’s Second Review Conference

  • provide support for affected countries, thus enabling them, in accordance with national plans, to fulfil their obligations under the Convention

  • continue to support the monitoring and advocacy efforts of humanitarian organisations in order to ensure that the States Parties to the Mine Ban Convention fulfil their obligations

  • work to promote the rapid entry into force and full implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions

  • together with other countries, support Laos’s preparations for and implementation of the first meeting of the States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Laos in 2010

  • ensure that Norway continues to play a leading role and engage in active partnership with other states and organisations in support of the Convention on Cluster Munitions

  • make an active contribution to the establishment of a consolidated and dynamic Convention on Cluster Munitions that serves as a good framework for implementation and compliance

  • make an active contribution to international and UN-based processes concerning armed violence and small arms and light weapons in connection with the Millennium Development Goals and based on knowledge from the field

  • work to improve control of the production of, trade in and proliferation of small arms and light weapons

  • give priority to measures that strengthen the protection of civilians from threats of war and other armed threats in affected areas and that help to strengthen international norms and rules in this area.

5.4 Needs-based assistance

Women and men, children and the elderly are affected differently by war, conflicts and natural disasters. Norway will give priority to the work of protecting women and children against sexual abuse and strengthen the gender sensitivity of the UN and other actors in connection with humanitarian activities.

Integrating the gender perspective into humanitarian initiatives means recognising that women and men, boys and girls are affected differently by war, conflicts and humanitarian crises. Good and effective humanitarian assistance means that initiatives must be adapted to different needs and that the abilities and resources of the affected population are utilised. Humanitarian actors must base their work on gender and age-specific analyses and develop good indicators for measuring the results of humanitarian efforts.

Important tools, such as the Inter-Agency Standing Committee’s (IASC) handbook and guidelines, are now in place and set a common standard for the whole UN system. While the Norwegian organisations are well on their way to integrating the gender perspective, this work will never be finished once and for all. It is a precondition for the effective integration of the gender perspective that the issue is given continuous attention and is subject to continuous improvement.

In addition to integration of the gender perspective, targeted measures are essential, including combating sexual violence in wars and conflicts. A great deal of the work that has already been done has taken the form of responsive measures rather than more preventive solutions. This is largely a result of women’s low status and vulnerability. It is therefore important to focus systematically on major structural changes so that women can have access to, for example, education, the employment market and the courts on a par with men.

As regards work with women and children, Norway’s policy of engagement in the humanitarian area is particularly concerned with following up the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the supplementary protocol on the participation of children in armed conflicts and UN Security Council Resolution 1612 on child soldiers.

In addition to children’s right to protection in conflict situations, environmental and climate change has major consequences for children and young people’s right to health, food, protection and education. Awareness of children and young people’s needs in crisis situations, as well as their potential to act as agents of change in areas such as peace, human rights, the environment and climate, is still often lacking.

The Government will:

  • demand that Norwegian and international organisations integrate the gender perspective into their humanitarian response, among other things by using gender and age-specific needs analyses in the field, strengthening women’s participation and reporting specifically on the results of this work

  • give priority to ensuring that the UN intensifies its efforts in accordance with the IASC handbook on gender sensitivity and improves its reporting on the results and lessons learned

  • work to ensure that gender experts are included in UN crisis teams (UNDAC) and that gender-sensitive data are used more systematically by these experts in crisis operations

  • in cooperation with the UN and relevant humanitarian organisations, give priority to measures aimed at combating sexual violence, focusing on affected countries and particularly vulnerable groups (women and children)

  • devote particular attention to health services for women and children, qualified natal help and reproductive health services in crisis situations

  • strengthen the efforts aimed at following up UN Security Council Resolution 1325 in connection with the tenth anniversary of the resolution in 2010

  • intensify the efforts aimed at following up UN Security Council Resolution 1820, which states that rape can be used as a weapon in war

  • support relevant educational initiatives for children, young people and adults in humanitarian situations in order to prevent them being recruited as child soldiers and exploited as prostitutes

  • contribute to an increase in innovative efforts aimed at meeting children and young people’s special needs and rights in humanitarian crisis situations, including natural disasters

  • intensify the work on following up UN Security Council resolution 1612 and the Paris Principles concerning the recruitment of children to armed forces.

5.5 The protection of civilians, refugees and internally displaced persons

The protection and re-integration of refugees and internally displaced persons is a precondition for stability and development in countries in crisis, but this will require greater use of regional solutions.

Refugees and internally displaced persons are the most important target groups for Norway’s humanitarian assistance. More than 40 million people are currently refugees from wars and conflicts. At the same time, the reasons for such flight are becoming increasingly complex. Many flee because of the destruction wreaked by natural disasters and a deterioration in living conditions.

Protection is a key task for some of our most important humanitarian partners, primarily the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other organisations that have a mandate to protect, such as the ICRC, UNICEF and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Voluntary humanitarian organisations also have an important role to play in protecting refugees and the growing numbers of internally displaced persons.

By establishing a good framework for protection and assistance, locally and regionally, and in cooperation with these organisations among others, humanitarian efforts can help to prevent the emergence of large secondary groups of refugees and internally displaced persons.

It is the civilian population that is hardest hit by today’s conflicts. In several situations we have witnessed attacks targeting civilians or attacks aimed at targets in densely populated areas. While the need for protection is increasing, we also note a weakening of the access of humanitarian actors to the victims in several countries. In recent years, more aid workers have been kidnapped and murdered and, in some cases, organisations have withdrawn their international personnel from conflict areas.

There is a growing need to find lasting solutions to the large numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons. Deadlocked refugee situations, for example in the Middle East, have political causes that call for political solutions.

Humanitarian activities should be conflict-sensitive and not contribute to increasing human suffering. In their efforts to promote zero tolerance of sexual abuse of women and children, the humanitarian actors are also under an obligation to ensure that aid workers are not themselves guilty of committing abuse.

The Government will:

  • prioritise measures to protect and re-integrate refugees, internally displaced persons and other vulnerable groups

  • engage in active diplomacy to promote respect for international humanitarian law, the protection of civilians and access to humanitarian assistance

  • work to ensure that the UNHCR expands its own capacity and expertise relating to the protection of internally displaced persons, including coordination in the field, and improve cooperation with independent national institutions and voluntary organisations on internally displaced persons

  • contribute to lasting solutions to protracted refugee situations, also regionally, based on good coordination of humanitarian, foreign policy and development policy instruments

  • improve the dialogue with grant recipients and UN agencies on zero tolerance of sexual abuse committed by their own employees and of failure to prosecute the perpetrators

  • participate in the debate on reform of the UN’s peace operations and become involved in particular in processes aimed at improving such operations’ capability to fulfil their protection mandates in the field

  • work to ensure that humanitarian efforts are conflict-sensitive, that they do not exacerbate the harm caused by conflict situations, and that organisations or measures that contribute to peace are strengthened.

5.6 More coherent assistance

More coherent assistance can improve conflict management, humanitarian assistance and the prevention of humanitarian crises, but it must be based on local participation in aid activities.

Much greater coordination is needed between the various actors and technical experts in order to prevent and respond to humanitarian disasters and initiate reconstruction and development in their wake. Differences in the mandates of relevant organisations or the organisation of the various budget items must not prevent necessary follow-up of the transition from the acute phase to self-sufficiency through the rehabilitation and development of affected areas. So far, the international community has failed to strike a satisfactory balance between national and international efforts, between long-term development and humanitarian aid, and between different international institutions and organisations. There is also potential for improvement as regards cross-sector cooperation.

It is especially important in the case of protracted crises that humanitarian initiatives are adapted to local conditions and contribute to local participation, organisation and sustainability. It is in such situations that the risk is greatest of aid leading to the abdication of responsibility by the national authorities, to aid dependency and corruption, and to indirectly cementing power structures.

Meeting urgent needs while at the same time ensuring long-term sustainable solutions is a task that requires participation across departmental and intradepartmental boundaries and between bilateral and multilateral actors.

Without a more coherent approach to development policy, it will be difficult to strengthen preventive efforts, achieve more effective climate change adaptation and attain the Millennium Development Goals. There must be greater focus on reducing local vulnerability, increasing local capacity to cope with disasters and active local participation, as emphasised in the white paper Norwegian policy on the prevention of humanitarian crises.

Norway plays an active part internationally in the field of climate change, for example in the climate and forest initiative, carbon capture and storage, the “Clean energy for development” initiative and the proposal for financing climate measures based on the income from auctioning carbon allowances. The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is an important contribution to reducing the need for adaptation and prevention in the long term.

There is also a great need, however, to increase efforts aimed at adapting to climate change. It is essential in relation to both adaptation efforts and the prevention of humanitarian disasters that we succeed in preserving biological diversity through ensuring intact ecosystems. Forest stewardship, water resource management and more sustainable agriculture are important in this context. In order to prevent the deterioration or destruction of human habitats and people’s means of livelihood, it is important that a price is put on the environmental costs and that we develop effective incentives for preserving ecosystems.

Figure 5.2 Reconstruction efforts following the earthquake in Pakistan in October 2005.

Figure 5.2 Reconstruction efforts following the earthquake in Pakistan in October 2005.

Photo: The Norwegian Refugee Council

Given the continued weaknesses in international efforts aimed at early recovery, more attention must be devoted to this issue. More natural disasters will also necessitate more reconstruction work. This means that the need for coherent assistance, where several instruments are focused on the same goal, is even more urgent. Norway has flexible instruments that can be used in connection with transitional aid/reconstruction, and we are working to promote more coherent overall efforts in the governing bodies of multilateral organisations. Norway’s long-standing engagement for humanitarian disarmament is an example of humanitarian initiatives that can enable local communities to start reconstruction.

The Government will:

  • invest in the whole range of adaptation measures – from prevention, preparedness for and the handling of crises to reconstruction and long-term development

  • strengthen the participation of affected parties in humanitarian activities, particularly with respect to prevention and preparedness, in accordance with the white paper Norwegian policy on the prevention of humanitarian crises

  • contribute to better coordination between humanitarian activities, climate change adaptation and development cooperation

  • contribute to increasing knowledge in developing countries about climate change and possible measures, and promote greater focus on the humanitarian consequences of climate and environmental change, for example through the work on the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s special report Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation

  • implement the climate and forest project in order to conserve the rain forests which contribute in many ways to adaptability in the form of water, food, climate regulation, protection against extreme weather and access to resources

  • support a coherent approach to water resource management in areas that will experience less precipitation or that will experience great fluctuations in precipitation

  • support the African “Adaptation Framework for Agriculture” based on the positive experience from the Norwegian-supported ”Conservation Agriculture” programme in Zambia

  • improve the coordination of Norwegian efforts in transitional situations, for example through closer cooperation in country teams in the Ministry

  • contribute to reconstruction starting at an early stage in affected local communities by intensifying efforts to clear mines and unexploded cluster munitions

  • promote greater focus on the long-term effects of humanitarian assistance in order to reduce undesirable consequences for individuals and local communities

  • support water, health and sanitary initiatives in crisis areas in order, for example, to prevent waterborne diseases and a deterioration in general health

  • work to ensure that good and secure education and relevant vocational training for girls and boys is an integral part of international humanitarian assistance and reconstruction, and help to ensure speedy and sufficient funding of education for children and young people in wars and conflicts

  • ensure that Norway’s humanitarian activities are based on the INEE’s (Interagency Network for Education in Emergencies) international minimum standards for education in crisis situations and early recovery.

5.7 Norway as a good donor

To be able to deal with the humanitarian challenges, Norway must strengthen its administration and follow-up of humanitarian assistance.

Flexibility and predictability

By their very nature, humanitarian needs are unpredictable. Norway must therefore maintain its flexibility and ability to act swiftly to meet changing needs, on the basis of the current model for allocating grants. At the same time, however, it is desirable to increase predictability for important partners through increased use of framework grants that are disbursed early in the year.

The Government will:

  • increase the proportion of non-earmarked funds disbursed early in the year to the UN Central Emergency Response Fund, humanitarian country funds and to UN and ICRC appeals

  • maintain the capability to respond swiftly and with substantial funds to new humanitarian crises throughout the budget year by having sufficient reserves

  • contingent on the approval of the Storting, enter into multi-year cooperation agreements with selected partners in order to provide more predictable financing for priority humanitarian areas where these partners have special expertise.

Further development of the Norwegian model

The Norwegian model for humanitarian assistance has made Norway a dynamic, flexible and respected partner in the international humanitarian system. The tradition of solidarity and philanthropy still has deep roots in the Norwegian population, and the humanitarian organisations enjoy strong support.

In recent years, these organisations have become highly professional institutions. Most of them have a broad network of international contacts, often with their sister organisations, and they have unique expertise and proximity to grassroots organisations and institutions. It is by financing these organisations that the Norwegian authorities can reach individuals, in both the response and prevention context. This means that we are dependent on there being a good trusting relationship between the Norwegian authorities and these organisations. At the same time, however, we must focus on goal attainment, quality assurance and efficiency. Stronger investment is required in research into humanitarian issues.

The Government will:

  • collaborate on a more strategic, more predictable and less project-oriented basis with Norwegian humanitarian organisations

  • make clearer demands on our partners and support professionalisation, competence-building and improved follow-up of results

  • continue efforts to ensure that the Norwegian Emergency Preparedness System (NOREPS) can mobilise emergency relief goods, personnel and service packages quickly and effectively in connection with natural disasters and humanitarian crises, with the emphasis on the further development of ready-to-deploy stocks in cooperation with Norwegian partners and international actors

  • increase investment in Norwegian and international humanitarian research and promote the establishment of a strong humanitarian research community in Norway.

Figure 5.3 The ten largest recipient countries of Norwegian humanitarian assistance 2002-2008 in NOK.

Figure 5.3 The ten largest recipient countries of Norwegian humanitarian assistance 2002-2008 in NOK.

Source Norad/MFA. Provisional figures for 2008

Figure 5.4 The ten largest recipient organisations of Norwegian humanitarian assistance 2002-2008 in NOK.

Figure 5.4 The ten largest recipient organisations of Norwegian humanitarian assistance 2002-2008 in NOK.

* Includes contributions to the International Red Cross movement

Source Norad/MFA. Provisional figures for 2008

More efficient administration and learning

Continuous efforts are made to further develop the administration of Norwegian humanitarian assistance.

As funding increases, the demands on the administration in terms of sufficient capacity and efficiency also increase.

More knowledge, research, learning and evaluation of humanitarian efforts are required. Norad and international networks and organisations will have an important role to play in evaluating how we administer humanitarian funds.

Where we have a diplomatic presence, the embassies will play a key role as contact points for Norwegian organisations, and as the link to the UN at country level and to the national authorities.

The Government will:

  • improve capacity in the administration of humanitarian assistance and introduce improved tools relating to grants

  • involve the foreign service missions more in humanitarian assistance where appropriate

  • intensify the follow-up of humanitarian projects in the field through increased use of field visits/ spot checks

  • improve its ability to document that Norwegian humanitarian assistance is beneficial and produces results, among other things by preparing an annual report on the results of its humanitarian activities

  • increase the use of evaluations and reviews in cooperation with Norad and facilitate learning through increased use of the results achieved in the assessment of new initiatives

  • have zero tolerance for fraud and corruption and require recipients of Norwegian aid funds to practise good financial management

  • require organisations that receive Norwegian humanitarian funds to have clear ethical guidelines for their employees’ conduct in humanitarian situations.

5.8 Financial and administrative consequences

The Government wishes Norwegian humanitarian activities to be based on clear attitudes and values. Vulnerable people in need have a right to protection and assistance. If the national authorities are unable or unwilling to protect their own population, Norway and the international community must help.

Undemocratic regimes, ongoing hostilities and strong national conflicts of interest often block life-saving help for millions of vulnerable people. Norway will work together with the UN and like-minded countries to ensure that people in need receive help in crisis situations. The international community has an obligation to help and protect, while those in power and armed groups have an obligation to facilitate humanitarian relief in conflict areas.

Climate change and enduring poverty in many vulnerable countries and regions mean that a greater proportion of overall assistance is devoted to the prevention of natural disasters. This theme has been discussed in various ways in white papers presented during the past two years. Work on climate change adaptation already has a central place in the ongoing negotiations leading up to the climate summit in Copenhagen in December 2009. Norway will play an active part in the negotiations on adaptation and will take steps to facilitate increased efforts in this area when the new climate agreements are in place.

Norwegian humanitarian assistance must also be based on knowledge and expertise. The administration of humanitarian funds must be robust and result in the desired goals and outcomes being achieved. This is a difficult task. By definition, humanitarian funds are allocated for use in the least clear situations imaginable. The Government sees no reason to conceal the fact that this involves a high risk that we will not always succeed in reaching those in greatest need quickly enough.

It is decisive, therefore, that we work more strategically, that we give certain areas and countries higher priority than others, that we select the correct partners and that we evaluate and assess the results we achieve.

The measures in this white paper will be funded within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ current budgetary limits for aid purposes. In the national budget, humanitarian assistance is largely allocated via Chapter 163 Emergency relief, humanitarian aid and human rights, but it must also be seen in conjunction with other budget chapters such as Chapter 162 Transitional aid, Chapter 164 Peace, reconciliation and democracy, and multilateral items and long-term assistance items under programme area 03 International aid. The work will have administrative consequences, in both the Ministry and foreign service missions. They are described to a certain extent in the white paper, but the administrative consequences will be discussed further when measures are subsequently proposed in connection with the budget.



Report no. 15 (2008-2009) to the Storting, p. 11.