Norway was recently awarded a spot within the UN Security Council. However, this placement within the Security Council comes after years of Norway being a world leader for promoting gender equality around the world.
Norway has been a world leader in promoting the need for an international agenda that focuses on Women, Peace and Security. Being placed in the UN Security council is only a continuation of this work by Norway, rather than the beginning.
Where It All Started
An important place to begin with this story is with the adoption of UN Resolution 1325, which was implemented on October 31st, 2000. This resolution called for and explicitly outlined that women be considered in conflict and wars. This resolution was important because it highlighted two major problems that related to women and war, and which up until that point had been ignored.
Women and War
The first problem was that even though women and girls might specifically be targeted in war, there was no protocols in place to try and prevent this. Additionally, often when wars and conflicts were being negotiated, women were excluded from these peace processes. UN Resolution 1325 tried to address these problems and called upon the global community to adopt this resolution and make sure women’s needs and rights were considered in conflict settings. At an online seminar I attended on November 9th honoring UN Resolution 1325, Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide stated: “Women are not observers to conflict, so why should they be observers to peace?”
Norway has also made changes to its military, who it appoints to delegations, and especially how it handles its foreign policy, where one of Norway’s main priorities is promoting Women, Peace, and Security and gender equality.
The Work of Institutes, Organizations and Individuals
Just as important as the work of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been the work of institutes, organizations, and individuals within Norway. One prominent institute has been the Peace Research Institute of Oslo (PRIO), which has its own Centre dedicated to Gender, Peace, and Security.
I myself have been an intern at PRIO’s Gender, Peace, and Security Centre, and am currently writing my thesis in collaboration with PRIO as well. One thing that particularly struck me about the work of PRIO’s Gender, Peace, and Security Centre was both their top of the line research they produced, but also the way that they organized and brought together negotiators and policy makers so that the research was being communicated to those who could make the most use of it. Additionally, they have helped organize the Nordic Women Mediators Network.
This network includes women of diverse backgrounds from the five Nordic countries. Ranging from careers as human rights lawyers, diplomats, and researchers, this network of women meets yearly and is active year-round to promote and support the establishment of UN Resolution 1325. These types of efforts within Norway highlight that this is a multilevel effort from individuals, up to the government to ensure that women’s rights are being upheld and included in peace and security efforts globally.
A New Wave of Collaboration
As Norway enters the Security Council it brings with it important knowledge and experience. At the online seminar on November 9th, Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide highlighted this. “One of the most important things we are bringing into the council is thirty years of practical experience. It has to do with inclusion of women from the beginning of the process, to the end of the negotiations. Women’s inclusion is not a sideshow to the peace process, but plays a key role.” •