Ethnic Discrimination

Published under: Stoltenberg's 2nd Government

Publisher Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion

Everyone is to have the same rights, obligations and opportunities irrespective of their ethnic background. The Anti-Discrimination Act provides protection against ethnic discrimination.

The integration of work to promote equality and prevent ethnic discrimination is a goal in all policy areas and at all administrative levels. The Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion plays a driving role in this work. However, all the ministries have an independent responsibility to promote equality and prevent discrimination in their areas of responsibility.

The Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs is from 2014 responsible for following up directorate tasks relating to the work of preventing ethnic discrimination.

UN Racial Discrimination Convention

The UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, skin colour, descent or national or ethnic origin.

The convention was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 21 December 1965 and came into force in January 1969. Norway ratified the convention without reservation on 6 August 1970. The convention has been incorporated into Norwegian law through the Anti-Discrimination Act (Act no. 33 of 3 June 2005). As at 16 October 2013, 176 states had signed the convention. The states' implementation of the UN Racial Discrimination Convention is monitored by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which is made up of independent experts.

The Anti-Discrimination Act

The Anti-Discrimination Act prohibits direct and indirect discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, national origin, descent, skin colour, language, religion or belief. The purpose of the Act is to promote equality, ensure equal opportunities and rights and prevent discrimination. The Act applies in all areas of society with the exception of family life and other personal relationships. Employers must make active, targeted and systematic efforts to promote equality and prevent discrimination in their undertakings. In addition, they must report the equality measures that have been implemented and are to be implemented (the activity and reporting duties). Public authorities also have a duty to be active within their areas. The Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombud must monitor that the Act is complied with and contribute to this.

Parliament has dealt with Proposition 88L (2012-2013) New Anti-Discrimination Legislation, which entails amendments to and the harmonisation of the anti-discrimination legislation. The new Act relating to the prohibition of discrimination based on ethnicity, religion, etc, upholds the established law and introduces a right for employees who believe they have been discriminated against to find out the salary of named colleagues and the criteria on which this salary is based.

The Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombud and Equality and Anti-Discrimination Tribunal

The Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombud is to promote equality and combat discrimination on the basis of, among other things, gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation or age.

The Ombud enforces the statutory prohibitions against discrimination, provides advice and is a driving force for equality and diversity. Anyone who believes they have been discriminated against can present their case to the Ombud, who will ask for information from both parties, conduct an objective assessment of the case and provide a statement regarding whether or not discrimination has occurred.

The Equality and Anti-Discrimination Tribunal deals with appeals against the Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombud's statements and decisions.

Duty to actively work to ensure equality 

The Anti-Discrimination Act contains rules regarding the duty of employers, public authorities and organisations in working life to actively work to ensure equality.

The objective of the duty to actively work to ensure equality is to create awareness through long-lasting own activity and thus prevent discriminating practices and organisational structures.

The duty of employers to be active applies, among other things, to recruitment, pay and working conditions, promotions, development opportunities and protection against harassment. The duty has been worded generally and does not specify any particular measures. It is up to each company to decide on relevant measures based on the challenges it is facing. Employers are to report the measures they have implemented and plan to implement in their annual report or annual budget.

The Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombud may, following a complaint or on his/her own initiative, check whether the reports meet the statutory requirements. The Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombud and the three regional centres for equality and diversity play an important role in the work of giving advice and guidance on the activity and reporting duties.