Historical archive

Fighting terror and promoting peace. The Norwegian perspective.

Historical archive

Published under: Bondevik's 2nd Government

Publisher Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Foreign Minister Jan Petersen's statement at Stanford university, California, USA 14 April. (16.04.04)

Minister of Foreign Affairs Jan Petersen

Fighting terror and promoting peace. The Norwegian perspective.

Stanford University, California
14 April 2004

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Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure for me to be here today. I would like to thank the Stanford Institute for International Studies and the European Forum for organising this seminar.

The Stanford Institute for International Studies is a leading institution for research on key international issues and challenges. In Norway as elsewhere, the Stanford faculty is known for having some of the best teachers and researchers in their fields.

Twenty-five Stanford faculty members have won the Nobel Prize since the university's founding. With a current faculty numbering 17 Nobel laureates, four Pulitzer Prize winners, and numerous other scholars of distinction, this campus must be among the highest concentrations of "brain power" in the world. Therefore it is a particular honour for me to be invited to speak from this rostrum.

Today I will share with you some thoughts on how the transatlantic community can use its common values to counter terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Furthermore I will outline to you Norway’s involvement in efforts for peace and reconciliation in different parts of the world.

These issues may seem divergent, but they are closely interlinked. In order to fight terror we need to stand firm. Evil is evil – there are no excuses. We agree that protective measures are necessary in our search for security. But, they are not sufficient in themselves. To reign in terrorism we need to look at what fuels extremism and hopelessness. Hence, we have to fight for human rights and dignity, for economic development and prosperity for all.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Norwegians have always counted the United States as one of our closest friends. Moreover, since World War II we have regarded the US as our strongest and most trustworthy ally. Our deep-rooted economic, political and security ties have been strengthened by the bonds between Norwegians and the five or six million Americans of Norwegian descent - more "Norwegians" than we are in Norway.

The close and warm relationship between the US and Norway is built on the fact that we subscribe to the same basic values. We share a clear commitment to freedom, democracy and human rights, good governance and the rule of law, and a market economy.

A small country like Norway can only safeguard its security and its national interests through multilateral co-operation. We will remain strongly committed to the UN. And we will continue to do what we can to strengthen the transatlantic ties - first and foremost in the North Atlantic Alliance - NATO.

However, we are acutely aware that these close ties cannot be taken for granted. They must be nurtured and developed. They must be allowed to evolve and adapt to the new era in international co-operation. The NATO engagement in Afghanistan is a good example in this regard.

Partnership is both about giving and taking. If we wish support from our partners, we must be prepared to contribute in areas where they need our backing. We must demonstrate that Norway stands ready to support its close friends and allies, and that we are a useful and valuable co-operation partner.

We must also be willing to make concrete contributions to resolving the common problems we are facing, both by providing civilian and military resources and by showing the political will to take responsibility in an emergency. This responsibility no longer applies only to Europe. Global threats are accompanied by a global responsibility, also for us.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The new threats and challenges we are facing are many and varied. But international terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction are the defining threats to our security. They are by definition global threats.

The horror of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists almost defies imagination. We must all do our utmost to prevent this from becoming a reality.

Failed states are a source of regional instability and violence. We must ensure that power vacuums are dealt with in ways that foster prosperous and democratic societies.

Afghanistan must never again become a haven from which terrorists can carry out their evil deeds.

A dictator must never again be allowed to oppress the people of Iraq.

The spiral of violence in the Middle East must be stopped.

We must help the countries in the Balkans to stay on the road to integration into the broader Euro-Atlantic community.

We must all play our part in bringing the local and regional conflicts around the world to an end.

Global partnerships and initiatives and regional efforts must go hand in hand in our efforts to strengthen international non-proliferation norms and regimes. Non-proliferation can only succeed if we get all nations on board. We need multilateral, legally binding treaties with global reach.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In our globalised age, security is indivisible. Regardless of whether we are a large nation or a small one, we are all dependent on multilateral solutions in the end.

International law, the United Nations Charter and the resolutions of the UN Security Council should be the foundation of our efforts to achieve peace, security and stability. We need the broadest possible coalition to effectively address the most pressing security challenges. With its universal membership and broad range of instruments, the UN is the most suitable organization for concerted action by the international community.

But, the threats and risks to international peace and stability have changed since the UN Charter was drafted. There is a need for reform of the UN in order to adapt to the new situation. We look forward to the report of the High Level Panel that the UN Secretary General has appointed to explore how the UN could meet the new security threats and challenges. While looking forward, the Panel should also draw on experiences from earlier activities. The UN cannot afford repeating the mistakes of its Bosnia operations in the 1990s. We cannot afford another Srebrenica.

Norway has consistently worked to strengthen the role and authority of the UN Security Council in its efforts to counter international terrorism and to halt the spread of the most destructive weapons.

In the Security Council the US has proposed a new resolution requiring all states to criminalise the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The proposed resolution also requires all states to adopt strict export controls and to secure all sensitive material within their borders. Norway fully supports the US initiative.

The UN should play a prominent role in issues relating to compliance and verification. We must close any loopholes that allow nations to carry out clandestine nuclear weapon programmes.

This means that we must strengthen the global non-proliferation treaties and regimes. These treaties must be made binding on all parties. The Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty has been the cornerstone of our collective security for more than 30 years. We must not allow it to be weakened.

We are also concerned about Iran’s nuclear programme. Moreover, we regret that the country has not yet provided the International Atomic Energy Agency with full information on its past and current nuclear programme. We maintain that Iran must co-operate fully and unconditionally with the IAEA. This will require diplomatic efforts.

On a more positive note, the case of Libya shows that diplomacy works – given the right circumstances.

The Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty must enter into force as soon as possible. We would like to see Washington change its current position on this treaty. The US must maintain its moratorium on nuclear testing.

We are also concerned that the development of new types of nuclear weapons, such as "mini nukes", may result in pressure for renewed tests.

The uncovering of the extensive network of Pakistan’s nuclear expert, Dr. Khan, has demonstrated that the spread of nuclear weapons is a real and present danger. This has truly been a wake-up call to anyone who may have doubted the magnitude and scale of this threat. The international web of middlemen has fed the nuclear programmes of Iran, Libya and North Korea – all countries of great concern in the context of proliferation.

Securing universal adherence to and full compliance with treaties aimed at preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction must be a top priority.

At the same time, it is evident that the global treaties are not sufficient. They must be complemented by initiatives such as President Bush’s Proliferation Security Initiative. This initiative is aimed at the interdiction of shipments of prohibited technologies and components for WMD programmes.

Norway is taking an active part in the Proliferation Security Initiative. We are making every effort to ensure that our law enforcement and military personnel receive the training and skills required to participate in interdiction activities and exercises. As a significant flag state, we are doing our part to prevent Norwegian-registered ships from being misused for proliferation purposes.

We urge the US to ratify the Law of the Sea Convention. That would add legal clarity and strengthen President Bush’s initiative. A predictable legal framework for issues such as maritime interdiction operations would help increase the support for the Proliferation Security Initiative from countries that do not participate today.

The Initiative fills a gap in our toolbox of non-proliferation measures. At the same time irreversible reductions in existing stockpiles of nuclear weapons are needed. Such reductions would be the best guarantee that weapons do not fall into the wrong hands.

We are also concerned about the way weapons are being stored in some countries. Inadequate security and safety measures with regard to nuclear installations and radioactive material are a constant worry.

Therefore, we particularly welcome President Bush’s announcement in February of increased support for the Nunn-Lugar Threat Reduction Programme. This programme is crucial to our efforts to dismantle weapons of mass destruction in the former Soviet Union. It has clearly been instrumental in raising international awareness of the dangers posed by the existence of vast stocks of such weapons. We consider the Nunn-Lugar programme to be a vital contribution to the G8 Global Partnership against proliferation of WMD.

Norway was the first country outside the G8 to play an active part in the Global Partnership, which has a strong focus on north-western Russia. The Kola Peninsula, just on the other side of our border with Russia in the north, has the world’s largest concentration of nuclear installations. Many of them represent a proliferation risk.

There have already been thefts from lighthouse lanterns powered by highly radioactive strontium batteries. This is a cause for concern with regard to dirty bombs. So far the thieves have contented themselves with precious metals. Will they go for the radioactive batteries next time?

Norway’s current priorities on nuclear safety projects in north-western Russia include dismantling of nuclear submarines – the dismantling of the first two subs is now in the final stage. It also includes clean up of the Northern Fleet’s storage site at Andreyev Bay, and the safe removal of strontium batteries from lighthouses.

The strong involvement of the US and the EU in these clean-up activities is greatly appreciated. If we all remain committed to this important task, there is hope that the nuclear safety and security problems in north-western Russia can be solved during the next decade.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am convinced that strong transatlantic ties will be as vital in meeting the most pressing threats of the 21st century as they were in meeting the challenges of the past.

The US and Europe may differ in their strategic outlook, size and resources, but we share the same basic goals. Let us never forget that the member states of the North Atlantic Alliance have been standing shoulder to shoulder for more than fifty years in pursuit of a single common aim – safeguarding our way of life.

Transatlantic tensions are nothing new. We have seen them before. Kyoto, the International Criminal Court and the Test Ban Treaty are just a few of the most recent examples.

Today’s situation, however, is cause for greater concern. The differences of opinion across the Atlantic are greater in number than before, and they go deeper. And they reflect very divergent attitudes to international co-operation.

However, the differences over Iraq between members of the Western Alliance are now largely behind us. I am confident that the NATO summit in June in Istanbul will confirm the strength of our transatlantic ties.

In order to meet the security threats of the 21 st> century, NATO has embarked on the most far-reaching transformation in its history. The latest round of NATO enlargement took place only a few weeks ago. The seven new members have already demonstrated their willingness and ability to contribute in important ways. We have witnessed this in the Balkans and most recently in Afghanistan.

The Alliance has taken on a heavy responsibility in Afghanistan, through its leadership of the International Security and Assistance Force - ISAF. This is the first time NATO is involved outside the Euro-Atlantic area. In this sense Afghanistan is a credibility test – and it is a tough one. NATO simply cannot afford to fail. It will also have a significant impact on the further development of NATO, as we must be prepared for a long-lasting engagement. Therefore, Afghanistan must be a top priority for the Alliance.

Afghanistan is at a critical juncture. The difficult security situation and the drug-related economy pose a significant threat to the political and economic development of the entire region. The elections next September will be a milestone, as they provide an opportunity to form a fully representative government in Kabul. ISAF must, to the extent possible, contribute to providing the necessary security for carrying out the elections.

Norway is committed to a broad and long-term engagement in Afghanistan. Our military contribution to ISAF will continue. As part of this, we will participate in the Provincial Reconstruction Teams that will be established outside Kabul this year.

This month we will also be sending a group of police instructors to Afghanistan, who will assist in building up and training an Afghan police and border police force.

We have recently upgraded Afghanistan’s status to be one of our designated partner countries in development co-operation. This means an increase in long-term development assistance to the country. Our political commitment to Afghanistan clearly is for the long haul.

There is an important lesson here: "There is no development and reconstruction without security, and there is no security without development and reconstruction." To my mind, the case of Afghanistan clearly shows that, in certain situations, the use of military means is indispensable for building peace and stability.

NATO may also be called upon to take on a stronger role in the stabilization of Iraq. As in Afghanistan, improved security is the key. The events over the last days clearly have displayed the difficulties facing the coalition forces in Iraq. There is, however, no alternative to continue working for a secure and democratic Iraq. Norway is currently participating in the stabilization force. We believe that the UN should also play a more prominent role in Iraq. Only the UN can give the political process the necessary legitimacy.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Most of the security problems we faced in the past had their roots on the European continent. Today the roots of the most pressing threats to our security are found in what is increasingly referred to as the Greater Middle East.

There is a need for democratic reforms in this area. Reform efforts will no doubt be met with resistance by many. There is no lack of skeptical voices. In order to move the process forward, we must now demonstrate inclusiveness and work to generate the ownership of the countries concerned. I am convinced that support for reform is stronger than ever – and growing.

In view of the recent developments in the Middle East there is an urgent need for concerted action. The international community must make use of all the instruments at its disposal to support the peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinians. The members of the Quartet - the UN, the EU, Russia and particularly the US – carry a special responsibility in this regard.

It now remains to be seen how the Israeli initiative to withdraw from the Gaza-strip will affect the situation. This initiative should be seen as a part of President Bush’s two State vision, and be based on the Road Map. The Palestinians will have to be brought in as real partners. And, a solution for the West-Bank should be part of a negotiated final settlement of the conflict. If requested by the parties, NATO should also be prepared to consider a role for securing a peace agreement.

A solution to the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians would have a huge positive impact on other problems in the region. On the other hand, resolving other problems in this part of the world is not necessarily dependent on a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Over the past decade Norway has gained valuable experience as a facilitator of peace processes all over the world. In addition to its role in the Oslo peace accords, Norway has been involved in peace facilitation in places like Latin America, the Balkans, the Horn of Africa, and currently in Sri Lanka, as well as elsewhere in Asia.

We have often been asked why Norway has become so involved in international peace and reconciliation processes. I would like to emphasize three factors in particular.

First, Norway’s role as a peace facilitator is in many ways a continuation of our long-standing commitment to peace through humanitarian action and development co-operation. Most Norwegians share the conviction that if we can help other people to achieve a more secure, more decent life, we quite simply have an obligation to do so. Sixty thousand people have been killed in the conflict in Sri Lanka. If Norway’s efforts can make a difference to the situation there, that is of course a good enough reason to be involved.

Second, as a small country with no colonial past and few vested interests, we are considered a neutral and impartial broker. We have no second agendas.

Third, our government co-operates closely with Norwegian non-governmental organizations. Norwegian NGOs have gained valuable experience through activities in different parts of the world for several decades. And perhaps even more important, their idealistic approach has earned them a reputation as highly professional and dedicated to helping others. Therefore we have good networks and hands-on knowledge of the various regions.

A common denominator for many of the peace processes in which we have been involved has been the interaction between diplomatic and humanitarian assistance, and between government and non-state actors. This is a recipe that has proven to be quite successful.

Let me give you a few concrete examples. For the past five years Norway has been involved in facilitating talks between the conflicting parties in Sri Lanka. The government of Sri Lanka and the Tamil Tigers have been at war for at least 20 years. Our role has been to assist the parties in their efforts to reach a political solution, not to impose a solution on them.

The peace process has made substantial progress since the two parties entered into a cease-fire agreement in February 2002. The parties have agreed on the basic principles of a political solution, and are now working on the practical details.

Two years of cease-fire, and active involvement from donors, have given the people of Sri Lanka a real peace dividend. They clearly do not want renewed hostilities. This shows the importance of backing peace-efforts with development assistance and financial contributions.

Peace facilitation is, however, a cumbersome process that requires patience. Maintaining the cease-fire is part of the key to success. Therefore an independent monitoring mission has been established. The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission is led by Norway and includes observers from the five Nordic countries. The aim of this mission is to make independent rulings on alleged violations of the cease-fire. These monitoring activities help build trust between the parties.

Just to underline my point that patience may be the most important ingredient of a successful process, the peace talks are now on hold due to various internal developments. However, all parties have expressed their willingness to restart talks following the parliamentary elections that were held on the 2 nd> of April. The parties hope to resume talks on an interim arrangement, while continuing their search for a lasting settlement.

We are also involved in the peace process in Sudan, which grew out of our long-standing humanitarian assistance to the country and the work of Norwegian NGOs in this region. This engagement brought us in contact with both parties to the conflict, which goes back 20 years. In facilitating communication between the parties, Norway was gradually trusted as an "honest broker". In September last year the parties agreed on the principles for resolving the sensitive issues related to security arrangements for a peace agreement. In February this year peace talks were resumed and the parties are now in the final stages of the talks.

Peace in Sudan would end one of Africa’s longest lasting conflicts. Two million people have been killed and more than four million have become refugees over the last twenty years. A peace agreement is long overdue, both for the people of Sudan and for the region as a whole. Putting an end to the human suffering will, however, require broad international engagement; also after a peace agreement has been signed. Economic development will be vital for sustaining peace and stability. Norway has therefore offered to host a donor conference once a peace agreement is signed.

It is important to keep in mind that successful mediation is only possible if both parties have a genuine will for peace. Success as a mediator also requires that we have a clear notion of our own role, and a clear notion of the role of other international actors. We need to take a common approach and act in a mutually supportive way. And last but not least, it is important to remember that every conflict has its own dynamics. The role of third-party facilitator needs to be carefully tailored to the situation at hand, and based on close dialogue with the parties concerned.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Our fight against international terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and our efforts to put an end to ethnic and regional conflicts, will only succeed if longstanding allies and friends pool their resources and pursue the same objectives. We must make full use of the UN, NATO, the EU and other international organizations in meeting these threats.

We may not see eye to eye on every issue. But at the end of the day, I believe there is a profound recognition on both sides of the Atlantic that we need each other, and that we share a common future.

Thank you for your attention. Now I will be happy to take your comments and questions.