Article | Last updated: 2016-11-23 | Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Norway has been engaged in a number of peace and reconciliation processes as facilitator and as a supporter of the UN and other actors since the early 1990s.
Support for affected countries during and after conflicts has become an important part of Norway's foreign and development policy, both because conflict is one of the primary obstacles to development and because unstable states can pose a threat to global security.
In peace and reconciliation work, it is crucial to understand the underlying causes of violent conflict and take steps to deal with them. These causes are often multiple and complex. Many of the global security threats we are facing are symptoms of unresolved political issues. The result is violence and states losing control over their territory and borders. The challenge lies in not merely relieving the symptoms, but in helping to address some of the underlying causes. Through peace and reconciliation work, we support local, regional and international efforts to bring about lasting political solutions.
The nature of Norway's engagement in peace and reconciliation processes varies according to the situation in the country, the wishes of the parties involved, what other international actors are doing, and what Norway has to offer. At the request of the parties to a conflict, Norway can facilitate talks on possible pathways to peace and on how the suffering caused by war can be reduced and international law respected.
Support and facilitation
The responsibility for preventing conflict and building peace lies with the parties involved, but we can provide advice and expertise or support a political process through projects that build capacity and a sense of ownership in the local population. Norway seldom does this alone. In some cases, such as in Colombia and the Philippines, we have an official facilitator role. As a rule, we cooperate with others. Norway supports UN efforts for peace and reconciliation and regional mechanisms for conflict resolution, including in Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and the AU (African Union).
The active participation of women is essential to resolving conflicts and creating lasting peace. Women should be represented at the negotiating table and in the broader peace process, to ensure that the entire population has the ability to influence the process and feels a sense of ownership of the politically negotiated solutions. Norway supports the work of local, regional and international actors to further the women, peace and security agenda.
Peace and reconciliation work requires taking a long-term perspective. This is a challenge when we try to measure the results of our efforts. The Government attaches importance to collecting and systematising experience gained from peace processes, in part to make it easier to measure results. Efforts to resolve conflicts and build peace do make a difference.
Until a few years ago, the number of conflicts in the world had dropped significantly, from a high level just after the end of the Cold War. However, more recent research shows an increase in the number of conflicts. The response to this should be even more engagement by the international community and by Norway.
Norway has a range of tools available for peace and reconciliation work and is able to take a flexible approach. Strategic use of development aid makes it possible for us to support negotiating processes and to reinforce peace settlements, for instance through monitoring mechanisms and peacebuilding efforts.
Peace and reconciliation work means being involved in difficult processes where the outcomes are highly uncertain and there is considerable political risk. Efforts are made to reduce this risk through follow-up and control. Payments are channelled through the UN system, Norwegian and international organisations, or international monitoring mechanisms. Grants are given as lump-sum support or under framework agreements, primarily to support specific programmes and projects. About one third of the peace and reconciliation funds are delegated to the diplomatic and consular missions, from where they are channelled for the most part to local projects to promote peace and reconciliation.
- Prevent, de-escalate and resolve armed conflicts, in order to save lives and promote development
- Support peaceful, democratic development in the societies concerned and strengthen global security
Priorities in 2016
- Bring parties to a conflict together, and encourage them to work towards political agreements. Norway is currently engaged as an official facilitator in the Philippines and Colombia. We are also involved in various secret processes in an attempt to establish political processes that will lead to peace agreements.
- Support stabilisation measures, capacity building and confidence-building measures in countries in transition (Somalia, Myanmar, Syria/Iraq and Afghanistan).
- Continue to develop expertise on issues of transitional justice.
- Follow up the Security Council resolutions on women, peace and security in all peace and reconciliation work.
- Collect and systematise experience gained from peace processes and knowledge about trends in international conflict resolution.
- Continue to build and develop Norwegian expertise in the field of peace research through collaboration between Norwegian research institutions and research institutions in Europe, the US and in emerging states.
- Strengthen the capacity of the UN and regional organisations in the areas of conflict prevention and mediation.