With the author: Hovstein Kviseth
Taking a stand for peace is often very political. It can concern major societal priorities.
It can be about saying no to bombing a country, and yes to an attempted mediation. It may be a matter of downgrading military deterrence, and prioritizing trust building. It can be a matter of prioritizing conflict resolution at a lower level, before a conflict escalates, or prioritizing reconciliation after the roar of war has subsided.
The Norwegian election campaign rarely allows for peace policy debate. It is therefore not easy to form an opinion on which peace policy alternatives one has to choose from in this autumn's elections. In order to inform the peace-interested voter in advance of the election, we have therefore reviewed the peace policy in the political programs the parties in the Storting are going to the polls this autumn.
Our analysis is based on a number of indicators for peace policy. By summarizing what each party program says about these, the parties' peace profile is assessed against each other. These ten indicators for peace policy were defined before some of the parties held their national meeting, and are therefore not affected by the program debates there. They are defined as ideologically impartial as possible.
10 peace issues: promotion of non-violent conflict management; support for the international legal order as a war prevention structure; raise the threshold for the use of force and military force; prioritizing defense capability over offensive capability; clear disarmament policy rather than
rearmament; policies to reduce military spending to a minimum; increased control over and
restriction of arms industry and exports; promote a culture of non-violent conflict resolution, dialogue and mediation; non-violent conflict management education policy; and peace as
goals for development policy and humanitarian aid.
We start from what must be the smallest common multiple of peace policy: a policy of peaceful coexistence. In organizational life, a peace organization is defined on the basis of whether its activities concern non-violent conflict management or not. In this analysis, we use the same approach as the basis for the parties' election program. The following ten peace policy indicators are used as a basis: promotion of non-violent conflict management; support for the international legal order as a war prevention structure; raising the threshold for the use of force and military force; prioritizing defense capability over offensive capability; clear disarmament policy rather than disarmament; policies to reduce military spending to a minimum; increased control and restriction of the arms industry and exports; promote a culture of non-violent conflict resolution, dialogue and mediation; non-violent conflict management education policy; and peace as a goal for development policy and humanitarian aid.
The election programs
MODERN TIMESs orientering or review is based on the nine parties currently represented in the Storting. In September, all these parties will stand for election on the basis of an election program for the period 2021–2025 adopted by the parties' respective national meetings this spring. Three of the parties also have a program of principles, which is also the basis for this review.
Since the Center Party first holds its national meeting in June, we relate here to their program committee's final draft of the program. When Rødt has held its national meeting, but has not published its adopted program as the magazine Orientering goes to press, our party's latest draft is also the basis for our analysis. The other programs have finally been adopted by the parties' national meetings.
For this autumn's election, the parties have adopted just over a thousand pages of election programs. Most parties write their policies on around 120 program pages.
We have also used the previous parliamentary term's program as a basis for the analysis, so that we can say something about the peace policy development in each individual party.
Main features of peace policy
Based on the indicators this analysis on these pages is based on, Norwegian peace policy now seems to receive less attention than four years ago. This can have several reasons:
In general, some topics have received more attention, such as climate policy and pandemic control. In addition, tensions in the High North are being given greater attention than before – with increased priority given to military defense. Although many programs seek relaxation, the challenges are most often met with increased military spending.
The pandemic, which is now in its second year, also contributes to increased emphasis on economic reconstruction and preparedness for such threats. The danger of war is not as obvious. Some classic peace themes, such as the disarmament of nuclear weapons, are still mentioned in the party programs, but the programs do not testify to significant idea development in this field.
Although the parties in the Storting do not seem particularly committed to peace policy ahead of this autumn's parliamentary elections, this analysis in the magazine also shows that they nevertheless understand peace issues as central to politics.