Friday, March 13, 2009

The peace worker

Our privileged situation, coupled with the egalitarian values on which Norwegian politics are based, have often given Norwegian politicians a moral imperative to engage in peace processes and advocate human rights and humanitarian aid.

This leads to an interesting foreign policy, shaped by things like Norway giving a substantial proportion of its annual budget as humanitarian aid, and Norway and Norwegian peace brokers having been actively involved in facilitating peace settlements. An example of the last is the Oslo Accord between Israel and Palestine, which Norway helped facilitate, but Norway has also been heavily involved in peace processes in the Balkans, Colombia, Guatemala, Sudan and Sri Lanka.

Norway has mostly had the role of being a facilitator who sets the table and helps the two parties in the conflict talk. the idea is that since Norway is a small country with no particular aspirations of superpower status, no military clout, and no vested interests in the conflict, that both sides in it will trust us enough to allow us to mediate the agreement.

The Nobel Peace Prize
Another connection with peace work is that the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded in Norway by a Norwegian comittee. Some may think of it as the Academy Awards for politicians, but it’s an important institution helping give resources, publicity and credibility to the unselfish few who struggle against the grain to create a lasting peace.

Despite being instituted by the man who invented dynamite (he was Swedish, by the way), it’s still the most prestigious peace prize, considered the most important recognition of the ultimate political achievement. It is arguably the single most important award in the world.


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