Ada Elisabeth Nissen

University of Oslo, Department for Archaeology, Conservation and History

Ada Elisabeth Nissen
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Of Heartfelt Charity and High Politics: Norwegian Peace Diplomacy Since 1989

In Norway, the foreign political refrain of the last twenty years has been that the country’s international reputation to a great extent depends upon the image of Norwegians as exporters of peace, democracy and human rights; core ethical values that most people want to reign supreme. The peace diplomacy has expanded and firmly placed peace-related activities at the very centre of the Norwegian foreign policy agenda. Internationally Norwegian mediation skills have been used as an example of how small states can punch above their weight in the international arena. Eventually, the notion of Norway as a peace nation has become an important piece in the puzzle of Norwegian identity.

This project covers the period 1989–2009 and examines Norway’s role as third party in four well-known peace processes: Guatemala, the Middle East, Sri Lanka and Sudan. Why did Norway intervene? Which approaches did the Norwegian teams choose and why? Did the efforts lead to peace?

If not, why have changing governments continued to cling to the national narrative of the peace nation? By providing an historical analysis of the particular Norwegian post-Cold War peace activism, the project moreover seeks to explore in what way it feeds into a more general perception of Scandinavia as progresseive, exeptional and morally superior in international context. In other words: Did (and does) the peace diplomacy fall into an imagined existence of a pre-given narrative?