Norway Enhanced Stability and Development in Asia and Africa
By Srimal Fernando Global Editor, The Diplomatic Society
Over the past five decades, Norway built an outstanding reputation as one of the largest foreign aid donors in the world and started to play a foremost role in the areas of peace building and development in Asia and in Africa since the early eighties. Norway began providing development co-operation assistance to Asia and Africa from 1960 and has contributed almost 59.1 billion Kroners in development aid to Asia and 124.7 billion Kroners to Africa in the past fifty years (Norad 2015).
Photo: Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Foreign Minister Borge Brende
In 2015 during the new year's address Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said “In recent decades, our petroleum activities have been an engine of economic growth. They have created huge revenues and secure jobs, and have made it possible for us to develop one of the best welfare societies in the world. Many Norwegians are working in other parts of the world to make a difference for other people. Soldiers serving abroad, aid workers in humanitarian organisations or engaged in UN operations”.
Norwegian Partnership for Effective Development in Asia and Africa
In fact the development projects handled by the Norwegian government and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) in Asian-African region saw a huge success in uplifting impoverished status of people. As a development agent the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation happened to be the key directorate under the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign affairs, who ensured effective foreign aid with quality assurance and evaluation.
According to the annual data reports of NORAD, Norwegian development aid to Asia was 2.6 billion Kroners to Asia and another 5.4 billion Kroners provided to Africa in 2015 (Norad 2015). When it comes to the development tasks done by Norway, Middle East and South Asian experience can be taken as the best illustration. Norway’s role on development became a crucial in South Asia and in African territories as a result of the political and economic turmoil in those countries.
In Somalia, Norway had to deal with poverty elimination and supported for peace and reconciliation as a forefront member state with the United States of America (USA). Development process embarked by Norway in Afghanistan deserves high admiration due to its considerable contribution. The important areas for Norwegian development cooperation in Afghanistan are good governance, education, rural development, security and peace. The multi donor Afghanistan reconstruction trust fund is the main channel used by Norway to support the priorities set by Afghan government. As a matter of fact both Palestine and Afghanistan are just two examples to show the strength and enormity of Nordic development endeavours in third world countries. Apart from these instances many countries such as Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Pakistan have received Norwegian support for their respective development programmes.
Norway’s Role in Peace building in Asia and Africa
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).
Peacemaking is a synonym with Norway because throughout their history Norwegians had made many worthy attempts to settle disputes in an amicable manner and had granted a universal reputation for Norway as a peace loving nation. Indeed there have been many instances to prove Norway’s dedication towards restoration of peace in the globe. Resolving Ethiopian and Eritrean conflict was one event, where Norway played a substantial role as a mediator in resolving the conflict peacefully with the signing of the Algiers peace agreement.
In Philippines, the Norwegians involved in their peace process with Moro and Communist insurgencies and also Norway has done a remarkable task as a member country of the international monitoring team for the GPH-MILF peace process. The turning point of Norway’s role as a peace maker was its involvement in the Middle East problem. In the Oslo accord Norway was able to bring Israeli leader Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine leader Yasser Arafat to a common platform. In this scenario for the first time of Arab Jewish conflict Israel recognized the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the representative of Palestinian people with PLO accepting the right of the state of Israel to exist in peace. The initiative taken by Norway to promote peace and harmony in the Middle East was a herculean task, when it compared to the bitterness of the conflict. Civil war in Sri Lanka was another palpable example where Norway actively took part in the process of reconciliation between Sri Lankan government and Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) in 2002. On 22nd of February 2002 a ceasefire agreement entered into between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government was successfully established. It is true that the peace process in Sri Lanka was doomed by aggressive acts of both parties before its accomplishment. But the deeds and commitments of the Norwegians to establish peace in Sri Lanka are deserved to be praised. While evaluating the peace process of Sri Lanka, Mr. Eric Soleheim made a valuable comment in 2011 November. He said “We gained experience from the peace process in Sri Lanka that we can use in other places”. Sri Lanka has been one of the major recipients of Norwegian aid in recent times. Norway’s total support to Sri Lanka between 1965 and 2015 was 4.8 billion Kroners according to the Norwegian government and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD).
Norwegian : Advocacy Roles for Asian and African Refugees
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.
Five years of civil war in Syria has forced 4.6 million people out of the country. To address an acute refugee crisis donors met in London in bid to stem refugee crisis .Norway top donor at Syria conference pledged more than 10 billion Kroners over the next four years .Ahead of the Supporting Syria and the Region conference in London Norway’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Borge Brende said there was a “moral imperative, human imperative” to act. "It's a lost generation if we're not successful tomorrow” It is a fact beyond doubt that refugee crisis has become one of trivalent issues in Norway. .Especially the lives of the people who live in conflict zones like Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq are at stake. Palestine (630.4 million Kroners) and Syria (516.5 million Kroners) in Middle East continues to be one of Norway’s top aid beneficiaries for 2015 (NORAD 2015).
Under these circumstances Norway has transformed its role to be a global refugee caretaker. Norway refugee council has taken many steps forward to serve those hapless victims of violence and it functions around 25 countries worldwide. In countries like Syria Norwegian refugee council has performed remarkably. In many countries Norway play a forefront role relating to education, shelter and sanitary facilities. Norway minister of foreign affairs very recently stated Norwegian government would allocate 1.2 billion Kroner s in 2016 budget for the empowerment of refugees.
Norway - Promoter of Global Peace & Development
Efforts and commitments made by Norwegians to promote harmony and stabilize the world have brought solace to many people around the world. However, their noble endeavour to build global peace and take development to needy nations has been subject to many ups and downs. But history will one day grant the proper justification for good deeds committed by the people of the land of midnight sun in order to see the sunshine of peace and development around the world.