Global Security, Transnational Threats and Norwegian Interests

Ladies and gentlemen,

I welcome this opportunity to address you on a topic that has become even more urgent since we started planning this conference.

The security landscape is changing – as expected – but it is changing faster than expected.

When the date for the NATO Summit in Wales was set last year, some people asked whether the agenda was “summit worthy”.

Unfortunately, things have changed.

Recent events in our eastern and southern neighbourhoods demonstrate our vulnerability, the need to improve our analysis of emerging threats – and to prepare even better.

This is why we are here today; to brainstorm on what measures should be taken in the realms of security and defence, and in fighting extremism abroad – and at home. I am honoured that so many prominent experts have come to Oslo for this purpose.

A warm welcome to all of you.

***

An already complex security landscape has been complicated further by transnational threats that are intertwined with the challenges of yesterday.

In the south, we see terrorists aspiring to statehood. In the east, we see an established state applying the methods of warfare with masked militias – and uniforms without insignia.

The basic pillars of our security architecture remain intact: The United Nations. NATO. The firm belief that trade, cooperation and respect for international law lead to prosperity.

That prosperity leads to security.

New technology has brought the citizens of the world closer together than ever before.

The real value of global trade has increased eightfold since 1970.

Extreme poverty has been reduced by almost half since 1990.

The interdependence of nations has never been stronger.

Unfortunately, the threats to our security have been globalised, too.

The world has become more prosperous – and at the same time more unpredictable – and vulnerable.

The very same technological progress that serves us so well is being used to threaten our values, interests and security.

In the Middle East and North Africa, sectarian conflicts are spilling across borders.

Citizens of European countries are training to be terrorists.

In Syria, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere, regional actors are fighting to gain influence through proxies. Some proxies are so successful that they are slipping out of their masters’ control.


***

One aspect of the changing security landscape is the development in conventional threats – which has changed in the last few years – not to say the last months.

We did certainly not expect military methods to be used in an attempt to move borders in the heart of Europe in 2014.

Today, conventional force includes the use of new capabilities – like cyber capabilities – as well as a wide range of non-military tools – like economic warfare.

The variety of methods applied, and the vague nature of these methods, are the main challenges involved in hybrid conflicts.

A second aspect is the number and complexity of unconventional threats. These include extremism, organised crime, piracy and threats in the digital domain.

Mafia and criminal gangs operate on a global level. According to a moderate estimate, the revenue of such networks is almost 900 billion dollars.

Let us not have criminals profitting from globalisation.

The expansion of extremist movements is alarming – in the Middle East, West Africa, Sahel, the Horn of Africa and South Asia.  

The international community agrees that immediate action is required in the face of the unprecedented brutality of ISIL.

Two weeks ago, I was in Baghdad and Erbil. I will never forget the children I met in the refugee camps – and the stories they told me.

We should fight ISIL and other groups vigorously – realising how multifaceted the task is.

The political divide in Iraq is deep because of years of political mismanagement and exclusion of the Sunni minority.

ISIL can only be stopped if there is a broad, inclusive government in Baghdad, and if the region and the rest of the world join the people of Iraq in broad, inclusive and immediate action.

***

As is the case in all conflicts, it is civilians who are paying the price.

In Mexico, drug cartels kill innocent people and behead their opponents.

In Pakistan, girls are kept from schools by men who fear the knowledge they gain.

The use of armed forces is and must remain the last resort. In some places, like Iraq, military means will be required to stop the menace of terrorism.

However, like all transnational threats, this challenge must be met by a wide variety of tools:

Diligent police work, security sector reform, improved intelligence, humanitarian aid, development, democratic reforms and political action.

We must work patiently to increase understanding and tolerance between groups, and to dismantle the arguments of those who have fuelled or created ethnic, political and religious antipathies.

We must find ways of acting together with moderate forces – and we must help to strengthen them.

Extremist movements must be fought on the ground, in the courtrooms, in the classrooms, on the internet and on the humanitarian front.

The rise of ISIL and the blurred lines between terrorist, criminal and business activities clearly demonstrate the dangers involved when bad policies and the exclusion of groups lead to failed states.

The spread of al-Shabaab from Somalia to Kenya and Tanzania shows how little regard these threats have for national borders.

This should be a warning to any government that is seeking to create instability in places of stability.

It is impossible to grasp what interest Russia could have in destabilising Ukraine, knowing how weak states tend to export instability to their neighbours.

The meaningless downing of MH-17, and the killing of 298 innocent men, women and children, may have been unintended.

But it was the result of an intended attempt to foster lawlessness on the other side of the border. This is dangerous – and highly irresponsible.

Hybrid warfare of the kind we are seeing in eastern Ukraine is a clear violation of international law, along the same lines as any other illegal use of military means.

Security and stability are vital for prosperity. Prosperity is not possible without security.

Millions have lifted themselves out of poverty –and most of the targets under the Millennium Development Goals have been met.

But not a single target has been met in states in conflict.

This is why engagement in peace processes and conflict resolution is one of the best investments we can make.

This is why we fight extreme poverty, and why good governance and education are high on our development agenda.

Development and security are different sides of the same coin.

Three years ago, Syria was a middle-income country in which refugees from neighbouring states sought a safe haven.

Today, we are seeing the worst humanitarian crisis in decades unfolding there – and in Syria and Iraq we are facing the most serious refugee situation since the Second World War.

Three years of damage may take thirty years to repair.

We need to understand which factors are driving instability, and how to counter them.

The power vacuums exploited by militias and criminal networks must be filled by legitimate regimes that offer hope and opportunities for their people.

Norway has benefitted from increased trade – and is one of the clear winners of globalisation.

Globalisation also brings transnational threats closer to home.

This summer, we raised our terrorist threat levels due to the conflict in Syria.

Last year, five Norwegian Statoil employees were killed when a group with links to al-Qaida took more than 800 hostages at a gas plant in Algeria.

Norwegian vessels and petroleum activities are threatened by piracy.

The drastic reduction in attacks off the coast of Somalia shows what we can achieve when we act together, and combine tools like maritime operations, preventive measures on board the vessels and justice sector reforms in the countries.

***

No nation can face global security challenges alone.

Transnational threats call for transnational action.

Norway is a long-standing supporter of the UN’s role in conflict resolution and peacekeeping. We welcome the efforts of emerging regional organisations to conduct missions in their region.

The support of regional actors is indispensable in the fight against transnational threats.

***

So is another pillar of Norwegian security policy – NATO.

At the Summit in Wales, we discussed how the Alliance once again can demonstrate its ability to adapt to a changing security landscape.

Deterrence still works – but not as effectively against asymmetric threats.

Working more closely with partners, in Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere, will enable NATO to extend its regional competence, operate more effectively and widen the geographical reach of its values.

NATO has to find its role in helping to stabilise regions on our doorstep, cooperating closely with the UN, the EU and governments in the affected regions.

No conflict can be solved without a political solution.

No political solution can be found without governments stepping up to their responsibilities - whether they are parties to conflicts or neighbours.

As President Obama recently repeated: Having the best hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail.But let me add: Having the best hammer made it possible for NATO to win the Cold War – without war.

The Norwegian Government is preparing for the threats we know – and for those we do not yet know.

As we adapt to this changing threat landscape, we must expect hostile actors to adapt to our new measures.

We must focus on the underlying causes of conflicts and threats, not merely the symptoms.

We cannot prepare for the future without learning from the past.

This conference is part of a larger national debate.

Norway’s response to transnational threats must be debated in parliament. That is why we will present a white paper on global security challenges in the spring.

I am confident that this conference will give valuable insight into our global security challenges – and help us refine the tools we need to counter them.

We are facing new and unfamiliar actors. We are also seeing “old” actors behaving in new and unpredictable ways.

But whenever our international order is challenged, we do not throw it over board.

We defend it.

We maintain cooperation, trade and a rules-based world order as the foundation for prosperity and security.

And we step up our efforts to respond to those that keep looking for new ways to challenge this order.

Thank you.

 

 

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