Country Profile: Norway

Earlier, in late 2013, as a result of a meeting between Nordic countries’ ministers of foreign affairs, an official statement seemingly paved the way for a possible joint Nordic contribution to a future UN peace operation in Syria. As the situation in Syria remains non-permissive for a UN deployment, no further discussions were conducted. More recently, in November 2015, Norway, UK, Denmark, the Netherlands, and the three Baltic countries recommitted to a framework agreement providing a Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), first established in September 2014. The rapid reaction force is meant to be capable of conducting the full spectrum of operations, but has no standing forces on high readiness. Interestingly, in the founding letter of intention, the countries also agree to make the force available to the UN, in addition to other organizations or coalitions.   Still, the number of Norwegian uniformed personnel in UN-led peacekeeping operations has remained limited since their exit from UNIFIL in 1998. Between 1978 and 1998, the Norwegian Armed Forces deployed an infantry battalion to Southern-Lebanon, in addition to staff officers, support elements and a rapid reaction platoon. At its peak, Norway had approximately 900 personnel deployed to Lebanon – representing one of the largest troop contributors to UNIFIL at that time. Norway returned to UNIFIL II in 2006, this time with maritime resources and CIMIC-expertise. Norwegian uniformed personnel have also participated in many of the UN engagements in the Balkans, from the early 1990s. Between spring 2009 and spring 2010, Norway deployed a field hospital and a well-drilling team to MINURCAT in Chad, comprising approximately 150 personnel.   Read more in our newly...

A Legal Framework for UN Peacekeeping

This article was part of the Briefing Book prepared for the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations by IPI and CIC. A main weakness of UN peacekeeping operations is the lack of an overarching legal framework. As a result, there are systemic weaknesses and gaps in the laws particularly relating to accountability. Peacekeeping operations are undermined by the different immunities and jurisdictional gaps that exist when peacekeeping personnel (troops and civilians) commit criminal acts. The current legal position is that (i) troops are immune from host state jurisdiction, and (ii) civilian personnel are immune from the jurisdiction of any national court. The counterbalance for troops is that TCCs are under a duty to prosecute troops who commit crimes. The counterbalance for civilian personnel is the existence of a waiver. In practice those counterbalances are deployed only very rarely. That (a) undermines peacekeeping operations and (b) is in violation of victims’ fundamental rights to access a court and a remedy. The current laws have resulted in a culture of impunity. Personnel use the cloak of immunity to commit crimes knowing that they will not be held to account. Although the Zeid Report identified key reforms to address the culture of impunity surrounding sexual abuse, little has been done to implement those reforms. In order to strengthen peacekeeping operations’ legitimacy and activities it is vital to revisit and address the issue of immunity and jurisdictional gaps. Rather than tinkering around the edges of existing laws, it is time to explore a more concrete and viable alternative. To counterbalance immunities, the UN must consider creating courts to prosecute individuals who commit criminal...
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