Norway's Peace-Building Diplomacy in Africa and in Asia
By Srimal Fernando, Global Editor and Punsara Amarasinghe
Norway has a unique reputation as a global peace builder and negotiator to resolve disputes. Looking back in time and focusing on Norwegian foreign policy, it is clear that peace is a concept that resonates with the Norwegian society. Norway has a unique peace tradition that dates back to the latter part of the 19th century. The annual awarding of Nobel peace prizes in Oslo portrays Norwegian passion and dedication to global peace building. Norway's long-term commitment to peace building is to transform conflicts constructively and to achieve a sustainable peace. Norway pursues an interlinked strategy between peace-building and development. The country, as a global peacemaker, has transformed lives, changed hearts and restored relationships in Africa and in Asia by engaging in monitoring, strengthening bilateral and multilateral dialogues and observing peace processes that contribute to post-conflict stabilisation. There are a number of instances that Norway directly took part in conflict resolution as a facilitator.
Photo: Hon. G.L. Peiris (R ) shakes hands with Mr. Anton Balasingham (l). Under the auspices of the Ceasefire Agreement, the Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) met for the fifth round of Peace Talks from 07-08 February 2003 at the Norwegian Embassy in Berlin, Germany. Norwegian facilitators, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Vidar Helgesen, Ambassador Jon Westbourg and Mr. Erik Solheim, also participated. (Image source peaceinsrilanka.lk)
Resolving Ethiopian and Eritrean conflict: Algiers Peace Agreement
In the Ethiopian and Eritrean border conflict Norway played a substantial role as a mediator in resolving the conflict peacefully with the signing of the Algiers Peace Agreement on 12th December 2000. The United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea in the year 2000 reported that an estimated 370,000 Eritreans and around 350,000 Ethiopians had been affected by the conflict.
Mediating Oslo Accord in Israel- Palestine conflict
In the “Oslo Accord 1993” Norway was able to bring Israeli leader Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to a common platform. For the first time in Arab-Jewish conflict Israel recognized the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the representative of Palestine people while PLO accepted the right of the state of Israel to exist in peace and in security. The Oslo Accord created the Palestinian Authority, whose function is the limited self-governance over parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Photo: The then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin shakes hands with PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat as President Bill Clinton looks on after signing the Oslo Accord at the White House on September 13 1993.
War to Peace in Sri Lanka through the Cease Fire Agreement (CFA)
In 2002, after nearly two decades of fighting and failed attempts on peace talks the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) entered into a peace process with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) through a Norwegian brokered Cease Fire Agreement (CFA). Politically and symbolically, Sri Lanka’s passage from war to peace and potentially preventing violent conflict and rebuilding peace and confidence was a significant factor contributing to the stability of Sri Lanka from 2002 to 2008. On 22 February 2002 a ceasefire agreement entered into between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government was successfully established. This led a path to the Nordic civil observational delegation called the Sri Lankan Monitory Mission (SLMM) with 20 officers from Norway and another 10 from Iceland under Mr. Trond Furtherorade as the head of the mission to begin work on the cease fire agreement.
The subsequent suspension of the war was seen as a great achievement in the peace process. There were six peace talk sessions conducted under the facilitation of Norway from 2002 to 2003 in Thailand, Norway, and Germany and in Japan. In the first peace talk session the parties agreed on their determination to bring the peace process forward and bring an end to the ethnic conflict, and create the conditions for lasting peace, prosperity, and respect for human rights. The first few rounds of the peace talks went smoothly and in the third session held in Japan both parties agreed to explore a solution founded on the principle of internal self-determination in areas of historical habitation of the Tamil-speaking peoples, based on a federal structure within a united Sri Lanka. The parties acknowledged that the solution had to be acceptable to all communities. In fact, the ceasefire agreement of the Norwegian facilitators brought solace for the tormented Sri Lankan society as a flame of hope. Article 1.1 of the ceasefire agreement stated “Neither Party shall engage in any offensive military operation.
It is a pity that their noble endeavour could not see its glorious end as they had expected, but what matters is the dedication they showed in the course of peace in Sri Lanka. This requires the total cessation of all military actions. Besides that, it had granted the due position to the Sri Lankan military forces to protect the territorial sovereignty of the country from the agreement itself. While evaluating the peace process of Sri Lanka, Mr. Eric Solheim made a valuable statement in 2011 November. He said, “We gained experience from the peace process in Sri Lanka that we can use in other places.”
Over the past four decades Norway supported countries around the world in their efforts to secure stability and lasting peace in countries with post conflict situations. This peace-making country seeks to make greater contributions to regional and global peace. Norway’s peace-building diplomacy is continuing to support Asian and African -led peace processes and support security, democracy, development and national reconciliation to promote world peace and stability.
*Mr .Punsara Amarasinghe is a LL.M. (Master of Laws) student at the South Asian University in New Delhi and a Research Fellow at the Royal Asiatic Society
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