International cooperation; crucial to Norway’s security, economy and prosperity

The rules-based international order is crucial to seek solutions to common challenges.  Multilateral institutions like the UN have played a key role in developing the rules-based international system of cooperation between states. A key goal for Norwegian foreign policy over the coming years is to support binding international cooperation and the multilateral system.

Through the UN, Nato, the European Economic Agreement and other agreements with the EU and other multilateral agreements, Norway seeks to maintain and strengthen the rules- based international order. Multilateral institutions like the UN have played a key role in developing the rules-based international system between states. The multilateral system also plays a crucial role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  Norway takes active responsibility in a broad range of multilateral for fora/institutions – also as an elected member of the UN Security Council 2021-22.

The multilateral system, in the form and with the content that have served Norway so well, currently faces six major challenges. The global balance of power is shifting. Multilateral cooperation is challenged when major states choose to solve their problems bilaterally, or at worst, unilaterally, rather than as part of a larger community. Liberal values, standards and rights are under pressure, both globally and on our doorstep, and the multilateral system’s ability to compel states to respect fundamental human rights is challenged.

Greater inequality within countries amplifies discontent with and distrust of globalisation and the institutions facilitating it. The fifth challenge for the multilateral system is the challenge of  efficiency and representativeness. Reforms that ensure greater legitimacy and better results are therefore essential to the organisations’ relevance - and sometimes even to their survival. Last, but not least, the world faces a wealth of new and urgent problems that we need to solve together, but that the multilateral system is not currently set up to handle.

On this background, the Government presented a comprehensive white paper on Norway’s role and interests in multilateral cooperation, on July 14th 2019. Meld. St. 27 (2018–2019) Report to the Storting: Norway’s Role and Interests in Multilateral Cooperation. In all, this report’s review of the multilateral system’s importance to Norwegian interests shows that multilateral agreements, international law, rules and regulations are crucial to safeguarding the needs of Norwegian society. The whitepaper outlines priorities, ambitions, and challenges for an active participation in Multilateral Cooperation.  

Norway’s multilateral work is an extension of its national priorities, and international cooperation is vital to safeguarding Norwegian interests in many areas. Smaller countries like Norway particularly rely on there being a set of rules that all nations must follow.

Preventing the erosion of the international law and multilateral systems of governance is therefore defined as Norway’s primary foreign policy interest.

Over the next years, Norway’s priorities must be to defend its room for manoeuvre in foreign policy, to be a driver for reforms that make the institutions more effective and representative, to seek even closer ties with likeminded European states, to cooperate more on issues of common interest with countries that differ from us, to strengthen the Norwegian public administration’s work on multilateral issues, and to ensure sufficient resources and relevant expertise for multilateral efforts.

Read the White Paper in its entirety here or the various chapters which are linked on the right hand side.