On Tuesday, January 19th, Norway’s Deputy Chief of Mission to the U.S., Johan Christopher Vibe, spoke at IWP on “The Use of Engagement, Mediation, and Dialogue as Diplomatic Tools.”
IWP Diplomat in Residence Amb. Thomas P. Melady introduced Mr. Vibe, and remarked that he was impressed by the spirit of reconciliation that exists in Norway.
After giving an overview of Norway’s basic foreign policy agenda and the history of Norway’s relations with NATO and the United States, Mr. Vibe went on to explain his country’s involvement in various peace processes, including the Middle East peace process and the Oslo Accords, the 1996 Guatemala Peace Accords which were signed in Norway, the Sri Lankan peace process, and the peace process in Sudan.
Norway is also involved in promoting inter-religious dialogue, particularly in places like Jerusalem and the whole Middle East. For instance, Norway has been working with school boards and the government in Pakistan to introduce secular subjects into madrassas in addition to the study of the Koran.
Mr. Vibe also explained the different elements involved in the peace process; from their beginnings, which usually are a result of Norwegian humanitarian efforts in the region; to the elements necessary in these negotiations – namely, a knowledge of history of the area, secrecy, impartiality, support from other nations, etc. – to their conclusions and degree of effectiveness. His remarks included many vivid examples both from his own experience and the experience of his country.
He answered questions from the audience that covered the question of justice and redress of injustices in peace processes, medical diplomacy as a part of peace negotiations, and President Obama’s remarks on just war at the presentation at the Nobel Peace Prize awards.
Afterwards, Amb. Melady observed that the three major themes that existed throughout his well-organized and well-executed discussion were strategy, secrecy, and reconciliation — three themes that are also dealt with in many courses at IWP.