Facilitating Peace Norwegian Style: Kjell Magne Bondevik Reviews Norwegian Foreign Policy and Engagement in International Peace Processes

By Bondevik, Kjell Magne | New Zealand International Review, May-June 2005 | Go to article overview

Facilitating Peace Norwegian Style: Kjell Magne Bondevik Reviews Norwegian Foreign Policy and Engagement in International Peace Processes


Bondevik, Kjell Magne, New Zealand International Review


This year Norway is marking the centenary of its independence. One hundred years ago we had a peaceful dissolution of the union with our good neighbour Sweden. Perhaps this peaceful dissolution has inspired us to help others find peaceful solutions to their conflicts.

A few years ago we celebrated another centenary in Oslo, that of the first Nobel Peace Prize Award. The Nobel Peace Prize is a yearly reminder of the importance of working for peace. Both New Zealand and Norway know--from painful experiences during two world wars in the last century--the fundamental value of peace.

Norway and New Zealand also share a commitment to democratic values. Both countries have been involved in peace and reconciliation efforts and promoting human rights for several decades. We have both contributed substantially to UN peace keeping operations. We share a common conviction that in this era of globalisation, the security and prosperity of every human being is the responsibility of all. This is reflected in my visit and in our desire to continue our co-operation and further our relations.

One of history's great men of peace, Mahatma Gandhi, once said: 'It takes more courage to try and talk things through than to start a war.'

Promising developments

When I look at the world today I see many promising developments. Democracy and peace are gaining ground. Integration between states has created mutual dependency and made wars more costly. The development of democracy has promoted peace and diminished violent conflict. Sadly, this does not apply in every country in the world. But the nature of the threats to peace has changed. When the Cold War ended, a new type of conflict became increasingly evident, in the form of civil wars, armed insurrection and violent secessionist movements.

While the great majority of the present conflicts are internal, within states, their consequences are crossing borders. They are causing human suffering and violations of human rights and humanitarian law. And they often pose a threat to regional and international stability. In our world internal conflicts are a global concern.

Thus our efforts to prevent violent conflict, resolve conflict and

avoid resumption of conflict must be made more systematic. And they should rest on a firm foundation of international law, the UN Charter and the UN Security Council. Indeed, the main purpose of the United Nations, set out in Article 1 of the Charter, is 'to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace'. Although the nature of the threats to peace has changed since the Charter was drawn up, the UN legal order is sufficiently flexible to enable the world organisation to address them. But that does not mean that there is no need to reform the United Nations. Substantial reform is necessary because the authority of the Security Council is being challenged. The General Assembly has lost some of its vitality. And there are gaps in the way UN institutions are addressing the needs of countries that are under stress and risk sliding towards state collapse. We must not allow the ongoing reform process to result in a few cosmetic changes.

Policy cornerstones

Co-operation within the framework of the United Nations is a cornerstone of Norway's foreign policy, as it is for New Zealand. It is also the foundation of our peace efforts, since peace diplomacy is about building regional alliances and partnerships. Norway's NATO membership is another cornerstone of our foreign and security policy. There is no doubt that NATO has safeguarded peace, stability and democracy in Europe. Although Norway is not a member of the European Union, we welcome the fact that, through enlargement and treaty reform, the European Union is promoting stability, democracy and peaceful development throughout Europe.

After the end of the Cold War, the two main threats to international security are proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism.

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