Norway: Foreign Policy Guidelines for HRDs

In 2010, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs developed a guide on the protection of human rights defenders in US foreign diplomatic missions. The document contains guidelines to assist the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Norwegian missions to standardize measures for the protection of human rights defenders and their work.

The bill stipulates measures for the protection of human rights defenders that can be applied in Norwegian diplomatic missions. This includes (amongst other activities) establishing regular contact with human rights defenders, the observation of court cases and cooperation with international and national actors in the country of the diplomatic mission. The bill also details the role of the ministry in advocating for human rights defenders in the framework of political meetings and human rights dialogues.

Similar legislation has been implemented by other countries, mainly European ones that have developed a separate implementation of the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders (examples include Finland, the United Kingdom, Switzerland). Protection International does not consider this kind of legislation as a national policy for the protection of human rights defenders, first of all because the guidelines are not binding. Secondly, because such guidelines are not applied to human rights defenders within the country that adopts it. Nevertheless, these measures aim at contributing to an enabling environment for human rights defenders in countries where Norway works on foreign missions, as they provide a focal point on the ground dedicated to provide assistance to human rights defenders by (amongst other activities) facilitating spaces for discussion or providing ad hoc support to human rights defenders in need.

Find the original publication here in English (Norwegian government).