Historical archive

The Soria Moria Declaration on International Policy

Historical archive

Published under: Stoltenberg's 2nd Government

Publisher Office of the Prime Minister

The Soria Moria Declaration on International Policy

Chapter 2: International Policy

Norwegian foreign policy must handle and safeguard Norwegian interests and values in a rapidly changing world. It must also contribute to promoting international collective goods and to building a better organised world.

The Government will increase Norway´s initiatives and activities aimed at fighting poverty and creating fairer wealth distribution as well as a more democratic world order, both globally and regionally.

The main lines of Norwegian foreign policy are firmly fixed, including strong support of the UN and international law, Norway´s membership of NATO, the EEA Agreement and Norway´s non-membership of the EU.

Norway must be a clear peace nation. The Government will strengthen Norway´s contributions to preventing, mitigating and settling conflicts and disputes.

The Government fully supports the ambitions in the UN Millennium Development Goals to halve extreme poverty before 2015, and Norway will lead the way in the work to cancel the debt of the poorest countries.

It is in Norway´s best interest that we have a UN-led world order. The Government will therefore work to strengthen the UN and international law.

The Government will handle Norwegian interests vis-à-vis the EU in accordance with a more offensive strategy and will pursue an active European policy in a wide field.

The Government will attach importance to the work aimed at modernising the Foreign Service, so that it will be an open, dynamic and future-oriented knowledge organisation. The Government´s foreign policy will be based on the following main priorities:

  • Establishing a holistic Northern Areas strategy.
  • Pursuing a more offensive European policy.
  • Strengthening Norway´s activities as a peace nation and working actively for global fairness and justice as well as a social and sustainable globalisation.
  • Further developing the UN and international law as binding rules for all nations.

An Active Policy for the Northern Areas

The Government regards the Northern Areas as Norway´s most important strategic target area in the years to come. The Northern Areas have gone from being a security policy deployment area to being an energy policy power centre and an area that faces great environmental policy challenges. This has changed the focus of other states in this region. The handling of Norwegian economic interests, environmental interests and security policy interests in the North are to be given high priority and are to be seen as being closely linked.

The risk of accidents at sea, the challenges from increased petroleum activities, the consequences of climate changes and the risk of nuclear pollution must be countered offensively through increased own standby emergency arrangements and closer international co-operation on measures aimed at reducing these risks.

The Government will seek international acceptance of Norwegian views on Svalbard, fishing zones, oil and gas extraction and sound environmental management.

The Government will strengthen the people-to-people co-operation between Norway and Russia, commitment, information and democratic participation in civil society, including through the Barents Sea co-operation.

The Government will:

  • define the Northern Areas as Norway´s strategic principal interest and strengthen the Northern Areas work through organisational changes and policy priorities,
  • present an "Action Plan for Administrative and Environmental Co-operation" in the Northern Areas,
  • conduct dialogues on the Northern Areas with all the main states that have interests in the Northern Areas,
  • strengthen the Norwegian Defence presence and exercise of sovereignty in the North, including the Norwegian Defence contribution to good standby emergency arrangements for environmental crises and the Coastguard Service´s resource control and standby emergency arrangements,
  • strengthen the co-operation with Russia and continue the work to reach an agreement on the unsettled border issues,
  • promote increased co-operation in the areas of trade, petroleum, fisheries, environmental protection, health, education and research, tourism and people-to-people contact,
  • strengthen the Barents Sea co-operation and the work in the Arctic Council,
  • take initiatives vis-à-vis other coastal states in the North Atlantic Area in order to develop environmental standards for international waters.

A More Proactive European Policy

The Government wishes to develop further close co-operation between Norway and the other European countries. The Government will co-operate with the EU based on the EEA Agreement. We will actively support the work in the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe to ensure democracy, fundamental human rights and stability in Europe. Norway must also contribute economically to social development and to the solution of environmental problems in Eastern Europe as well as in the Balkans.

It is generally in Norway´s best interest to ensure the development of joint rules and standards for business enterprises in the European market. Where proposals for such rules are directly contrary to Norwegian interests, Norway must use all the possibilities that we have under the existing rules to safeguard Norwegian interests. If other means fail, the Government will consider exercising the right to make reservations that follows from the EEA Agreement if Norwegian interests of special importance are threatened by legislative acts that are planned to be inserted in the EEA Agreement.

The Government will follow up on good environmental initiatives from the EU and will use the best aspects of the EU´s environmental protection legislation, including where these are not covered by the EEA Agreement. The Government will stand firm on the exemption that we were granted in the EEA Agreement, in accordance with which Norwegian authorities decide which genetically modified products can be introduced, marketed and sold in Norway.

The Government will establish stronger mechanisms for a holistic co-ordination of the overall Norwegian activities in the EEA that can increase the possibilities of influence. It must be ensured that Norwegian interests can be safeguarded more effectively and at such an early stage that we have an opportunity to influence EU decisions of importance to Norway, be it through the EEA Agreement or in some other way. The Government will ensure an open debate on EEA and EU affairs, including by greater involvement of the Storting (the Norwegian Parliament). Important proposals will be submitted for consultation and hearing before being read in the Storting.

The Government will attach importance to a particularly close dialogue on European co-operation issues with our Nordic neighbours.

The Government will increase the support for special interest organisations that can promote Norwegian interests vis-à-vis EU processes of EEA relevance, build networks in EU Member States and use experience gained from the European work to stimulate increased debate in Norway.

The Government will work to ensure that the EU does not implement a Service Directive that results in social dumping.

The Government will not apply for Norwegian EU membership.

The Government will only contribute military forces to the EU´s rapid reaction force when there is a clear, unambiguous UN mandate for this. The Storting will be responsible for adopting a resolution on the provision of Norwegian forces. The Storting must be informed immediately when a request for the provision of forces has been received. The Storting must have access to all relevant information necessary to make an independent decision. There must be applicable rules of engagement, and Norway must be ensured of presence in the command structure.

The Government will:

  • review the experience gained from the affiliation to the Schengen Agreement,
  • reorganise and systematise the work on matters of relevance to the EEA, so that Norway´s position can be strengthened and the work can be made more effective.

Peace, Appeasement, Disarmament and a Strengthened UN

The Government will strengthen Norwegian initiatives aimed at conflict prevention and conflict settlement. Norway can play a more important role in peace building than in other foreign policy areas, and Norway can strengthen this field through a further systematisation of Norwegian initiatives and activities.

This is not only important in terms of promoting development and alleviating suffering in the countries that are currently ravaged by conflicts. It is also important in terms of the prevention of events that may directly hit Norway. A number of conflicts contribute to international terrorism, the spreading of weapons of mass destruction, ethnic hatred, environmental or economic crises and large waves of refugees.

The Government will work to ensure that the NATO countries lead the way in the prevention of the spreading of weapons of mass destruction. The spreading of nuclear weapons constitutes a serious threat to international peace and security. NATO must continuously evaluate its nuclear strategy in order to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in international politics. Our objective is the complete scrapping of nuclear weapons.

At the same time, the Government will take the consequence of the fact that light hand weapons are today the weapons that kill the largest number of people. The Government will support international measures aimed at limiting the trade in and spreading of hand weapons, including the work on the drafting of a separate international arms trade treaty.

The Government´s objective is that Norway will work to have the current plans for a missile defence shield shelved and take an initiative for increased focus on early warning and prevention of conflicts.

It is in the best interest of Norway that we have a UN-led world order and not a situation in which nations take matters into their own hands. The Government will work for a significant strengthening of the UN. As a member country, Norway will actively support the reform process and seek to co-operate with like-minded countries on the work to introduce a modern, more effective world organisation. Norway will be a driving force in the UN´s work to implement joint standards in key areas and in the UN´s work to develop international law further.

The UN system must be able to meet (using effective collective means) the whole spectrum of challenges ranging right from poverty and epidemics to terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. The UN apparatus for supporting peace processes should be strengthened. The UN must become able to undertake strategic management of the important transition from war to lasting peace after a peace agreement has been entered into. Norway will participate with both civilian and military personnel in the UN´s peace-keeping and peace-building operations.

The UN has special advantages for supporting the development of a state and its institutions. This work must be prioritised.

The Government will:

  • work actively, based on a long-term strategy, to enable the UN to meet the challenges of the 21st Century,
  • increase civilian and military participation in UN operations,
  • support the work on the drafting of an international arms trade treaty,
  • work for the introduction of an international ban on cluster bombs,
  • strengthen Norway´s possibilities of contributing to conflict prevention, peace broking and peace building,
  • strengthen the co-operation with NGO´s, research environments and other parties that are engaged in peace work and conflict settlement.

Development Policy and Human Rights

World poverty is an infringement of human worth, a violation of human rights and a threat to global security and the environment. The fight against poverty and for the right to economic development, democracy, human rights and sustainable development constitutes the greatest challenge for the world community and a principal task for the Government.

The Government´s objective is that Norwegian development policy is to have greater focus on Norway´s contribution to economic and sustainable development as well as the promotion of human rights. The Government will strengthen poor countries´ opportunities for and ability to engage in trade, building of democratic institutions and development of public welfare services such as health and education. The Government will contribute to ensuring that the multilateral development and financial institutions attach increased importance to public welfare creation, the environment, health and education in their strategies.

The Government will take an international initiative to ensure continuous aid evaluation and a performance-linked aid policy and establish an international monitoring mechanism that will evaluate the donor country´s promises of aid and debt relief against the policy that has actually been implemented.

The Government will contribute considerable funds to the establishment of a humanitarian emergency fund under the auspices of the UN. Such an emergency fund may be the first step towards establishing fixed income for the UN.

A majority of the world´s poorest people are women. Women´s right to health and education and the fight against exploitation of women will be given increased importance. The Government will work internationally to ensure women´s reproductive health and to decriminalise abortion.

Health is an essential prerequisite for development. The Government will continue (and strengthen) Norway´s commitment to ensuring health in poor countries, including through greater involvement in the work against the HIV/AIDS epidemic and in the work to ensure vaccines for all children.

The Government will continue the active co-operation with NGO´s.

The environment has been given lower priority in Norwegian and international aid work in recent years. The Government will take an initiative aimed at ensuring that Norway will be a leading country in this field and will present an action plan for environmentally oriented aid in which the main principles will be management, use and preservation of natural resources in co-operation with and to the benefit of the local population and partner country and to contribute to preserving natural assets of global importance to the future.

Norway must adopt an even more offensive position in the international work to reduce the debt burden of poor countries. The UN must establish criteria for what can be characterised as illegitimate debt, and such debt must be cancelled.

In recent years, there have been many examples of civil rights having been set aside in the fight against terrorism. The Government will work to ensure that the international fight against terrorism takes place within the framework of established human rights.

The Government will:

  • work to ensure that the appropriations for the development work meet the target of 1 per cent of GNP and that the grants are then gradually increased further during the period,
  • provide significant contributions to an humanitarian emergency fund under the auspices of the UN,
  • work to ensure that the multilateral aid is increasingly switched from the World Bank to development programmes and emergency aid measures under the auspices of UN agencies. Norwegian aid should not go to programmes that contain requirements for liberalisation and privatisation,
  • act as a spearhead for international agreements on new global financing sources that can contribute to a redistribution of global wealth and the strengthening of the UN institutions, such as aircraft tax, carbon dioxide tax, tax on arms trade or duty on currency transactions,
  • oppose a further expansion of what can internationally be defined as official development assistance (ODA) in relation to military expenditure and not charge expenses for military forces to the aid budget,
  • work for greater openness about Norway´s role in the World Bank and the IMF and evaluate changes in the political management and mandate for Norway´s role,
  • support a democratisation of the World Bank and the IMF. Developing countries must be given much greater influence, among other things by ensuring that the voting right is not solely linked to capital contributions,
  • lead the way in the work to ensure the debt cancellation of the poorest countries´ outstanding debt in line with the international debt relief initiative. The costs of debt cancellation must not result in a reduction of Norwegian aid, cf. the adopted debt repayment plan. No requirements must be made for privatisation as a condition for the cancellation of debt. The Government will support the work to set up an international debt settlement court that will hear matters concerning illegitimate debt,
  • work actively for the abolition of the death penalty in all countries,
  • follow up on and further develop the work on human rights dialogues.

Defence and Security

Today´s security challenges are less connected with traditional military threats than previously. The risk of terrorist attacks, major environmental and natural disasters or large-scale accidents in various sectors of society has increased. The Government will work for a comprehensive security policy, for improved civil protection and for a good balance between military and civilian standby emergency arrangements.

The Government will attach importance to the work to prevent conflicts. The aim of this work is to strengthen the international legal order and ensure that there are better management instruments for creating peace than those currently available to the global community.

The best way in which to safeguard our security is through good international co-operation and through good concerted action with all our neighbouring countries. The Government will continue Norway´s membership of NATO and use the organisation actively to develop a transatlantic dialogue, partnership, promotion of peace keeping, disarmament, arms control and conflict prevention.

The Government will conduct a review of Norway´s obligations regarding Norwegian forces in relation to EU and NATO tasks as well as other international operations. We will increase Norwegian civilian and military participation in the UN´s peace-keeping work, with special emphasis on Africa.

The Government will attach importance to building on and further strengthening the competence that Norway has built up in peace-keeping operations, the principal objective of which is to ensure stability and security for the civilian population.

The Government will withdraw Norwegian staff officers and training officers from Iraq.

Participation in international operations must be rooted in the UN Charter and have a clear UN mandate. The UN is the only international body that can legitimise the use of force. There must be a high threshold for the use of military force. Norway should not participate in pre-emptive attacks that have not been authorised by the UN.

The Government will ensure that clear guidelines are established for the handling of Norway´s international obligations in accordance with international conventions in connection with the conclusion of agreements on making Norwegian forces available for international operations.

The Government will work for greater openness and wide rooting of Norwegian security policy and the work to strengthen civil protection. As part hereof, the Government will reorganise the committee for disarmament and security into a committee that can, to a greater extent, continuously advise the Government on a wide range of issues regarding security policy and civil protection. The committee must have wide areas of expertise and a wide political composition.

The Government will strengthen the economic management of the Defence. The Storting´s budgetary framework must be met. Large investments in new equipment must be reviewed in connection with a new long-term plan for the Defence.

The Government will review the experience gained from demanning, privatisation and tendering as well as horizontal co-ordination in the Defence.

The Government´s objective is to have modern Defence, adapted to meet the new security challenges. New and more complex threats increase the need for flexible Defence that can handle a wide range of different tasks. Standby arrangements along the coast must be given higher priority than today, and the role of the Defence in relation to environmental monitoring and maritime rescue work is to be strengthened. The Defence must, to a greater extent than today, be geared towards the exercise of sovereignty and towards ensuring stability in our waters, especially in the North.

The Government will maintain the general compulsory military service, adjusted to changing times. This must be based on the needs of the Defence.

The Government will review the routines for procurement of military equipment in order to have a public procurement policy that ensures repurchase agreements and conformity with Norwegian foreign policy objectives.

The Government will:

  • implement measures to improve the economic management of the Defence,
  • set up a widely composed committee, which is to prepare the basis for a new long-term plan for the Defence from 2009,
  • ensure a good balance between military and civilian standby arrangements and attach increased importance to civil protection,
  • not provide military forces for international operations that are not rooted in the UN Charter and for which there is not a clear UN mandate,
  • withdraw Norwegian staff officers and training officers from Iraq,
  • strengthen Norwegian participation in ISAF in Afghanistan. On this basis, we will not renew Norwegian participation in Operation Enduring Freedom when the mandate period for these forces expires,
  • set up a new advisory committee on security policy and civil protection,
  • maintain the objective that one of the principal tasks of the Defence will be to exercise sovereignty and ensure stability in our near areas,
  • ensure that the presence of the Defence will be kept at a high level in Northern Norway. Political resolutions on localisation of detachments must be followed up.


In its trade policy, Norway has strong interests in and a wish to promote an international trade policy that is based on the greatest possible level of fairness. Norway today has one of the most open economies in the world. The Government will work to promote an international trade regime in which decisive importance must be attached to the environment, vocational and social rights, food security and development in poor countries.

In the ongoing WTO negotiations, the Government will work to promote Norwegian interests, but the Government will also provide support for countries that promote the interests of the poor part of the world´s population. Norway must make practical contributions to ensuring that the poor countries can safeguard their interests and that negotiations must be conducted with the greatest possible degree of openness and public access. At the same time, the Government will also favour in its aid policy that the countries in the South can participate in and benefit from the development of international trade.

The Government will ensure improved communication of information to the Norwegian public on the progress of the negotiations and the positions adopted by Norway.

The Government will work to ensure that the WTO rules does not become an obstacle to a differentiated trade policy that allows for separate schemes to be entered into in order to promote trade with selected poor countries.

Rich countries´ export subsidies are currently very damaging to poor countries and middle-income countries in terms of both domestic markets and export opportunities. The Government will support the work to ban all export subsidies through the WTO.

The Government´s basic position is that the WTO rules must not deprive poor countries of the management right and means that have been important in developing our own society into a welfare society. Regarding trade in services under the framework of the GATS Agreement, the Government will review and reassess the Norwegian positions. Norway should not make demands of poor countries that may entail a weakening of the possibilities of developing strong public services in health and education. Nor should Norway favour an agreement that may force privatisation of public services in Norway.

Decisive importance must be attached to ensuring access to low-priced medicines against life-threatening diseases (HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis) in poor countries in connection with the international negotiations on trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights (the TRIPS Agreement).

Liberalisation of trade should only take place within a framework under which fair distribution, fundamental social standards, the environment and national food security are taken into consideration.

The Government will:

  • review and reassess all requirements that Norway has made for developing countries regarding liberalisation of the services sector in the GATS negotiations,
  • ensure that Norway is to work for countries in the south being given sufficient freedom of action to choose development strategies that take into consideration their special needs and development level in connection with the WTO negotiations on agriculture and on market access for other products than agricultural products,
  • work to ensure that a country´s right to the production of food for its own population is recognised in the WTO negotiations,
  • work to promote Norwegian export of fish and fish products as well as other export interests in the ongoing WTO negotiations,
  • work to ensure that Norway supports the developing countries´ demands for a renegotiation of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (the TRIPS Agreement),
  • attach importance to ensuring increased openness about the requests that Norway sends to other countries in the GATS negotiations and provide the public with access to the requests that Norway receives, in so far as this is possible within the WTO rules,
  • contribute to ensuring that poor countries have sufficient political freedom of action to protect their own food production,
  • increase the import quotas for poor countries, including for non-LDC countries. The Government will target its aid towards enabling LDC countries to exercise their trade preferences,
  • work internationally for a review of previous WTO rounds before the negotiations are extended to new areas.