Off the coast, Norway has access to a gigantic economic zone that extends from the coast and 200 nautical miles straight out to sea, and with the large fishing zones further out in the North Atlantic on the outside of this again. Within this economic zone, Norway has, according to the Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982, the exclusive right (exclusive right) to extract natural resources and petroleum.
If we are to understand Norway’s role in the world, or prepare the country for the challenges of the 21st century, we will have to take on this whole great Sea-Norway . And then Norway no longer has any small land area. Then the country actually becomes the world’s 13th largest country, and with one of the largest economic zones in Europe.
In total, according to PETSINCLUDE.COM, Norway manages and controls an ocean area of 1.6 million km2 – almost six times the land area. 2/3 of all Norwegian export revenues come from economic activity and resources related to the fjords and the sea around Norway – from oil and gas, wild fish and farming.
If we also count shipping on the world’s oceans and maritime industries along the coast, the number is even higher. Ninety percent of all Norwegian export revenues are thus connected to the sea and the coast. Norway is the seventh largest exporter of oil in the world, the third largest gas exporter, and Norway has one of the world’s largest aquaculture industries and is still among the six largest maritime nations in the world.
4: Norway is dependent on international order
What do these numbers mean? In short, they say that Norway has more in common with an island than a continental mainland territory. Norwegian society is highly dependent on natural resources in the sea and under the seabed . Here we also find one of the truly great hits of Norwegian history: The right to the sea – to hydrocarbons and fish.
Norway’s access to these resources is far from a matter of course. If oil in the North Sea had been discovered in the 1930s, long before the law of the sea came into being, it is likely that the British and other great powers would have taken control of most things. At the time, Britain was still the dominant maritime nation that ruled the stormy North Atlantic.
Norway thus has an extra lot to thank international lawyers and diplomats for, and our own former Minister of the Law of the Sea Jens Evensen. Norway is deeply dependent on compliance with international law. We can say it even stronger: International legal order is Norway’s most important interest . International laws are what give Norway access to the entire large sea area off the Norwegian coast and make Norway rich.
5: Four Norwegian «power fields»
A world-renowned American researcher, Joseph Nye, has launched the term “smart power” . It refers to the kind of influence and influence small countries can have even if they do not have strong military power or are a great power. Norway has such smart power .
What is Norway’s smart power on the international stage? In short, there are “four political power fields” where Norway has enough power to – somewhat realistically speaking – make a difference . We can imagine these force fields as condensed in the names of cities while we follow a Norwegian foreign minister on a tour around the world to places where Norway has its most important interests.
- New Yorkis the first city. There is the UN headquarters , and Norway is big. The country is the world’s fifth largest contributor (money) to the UN system – a total of five billion kroner each year. Over the years, the country has had many talented people in international organization, and in good national governance. This makes Norway a kind of superpower in international organization.
- Houston. The next town is just over 2600 kilometers to the southwest – Houston (Texas). The Foreign Minister flies there with one of the dozens of daily direct flights. The city is popularly referred to as «the world’s oil capital» , and there live just over 7,000 Norwegians, employed by companies such as Statoil, Aker Solutions and Marintech.
Houston is a clear emphasis on Norway’s central position in offshore petroleum extraction and the world’s energy infrastructure. Norway is the world’s fifth largest exporter of oil and gas (overall), Norway has an oil and gas supplier industry (in Houston and elsewhere) that has tripled in ten years and the Norwegian state provides knowledge on everything from tax legislation to ownership policy and fund management around in the world – and is a major petroleum power.
- A city in the Middle East. From Houston, the trip goes directly back to Europe. There, the foreign minister changes planes and continues on either to Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Amman, Baghdad or perhaps further south to Cairo and Tripoli or Khartoum in Sudan. For it can really be any of these cities. They are all the scene of one of the last ten years’ wars and revolutions, or national divisions.
In 2003, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs established a separate section for peace and reconciliation in Oslo, and since then Norway has been involved in more than twenty peace processes (most often as a facilitator) or attempts to reconcile groups that are in conflict with each other. Most of this work is strictly confidential, and unknown to the media and the public. Only a very few people have a detailed overview of everything.