Norway has been an OSCE participating State since June 25, 1973. It has periodically had its elections observed by the OSCE/ODIHR.
Norway is a constitutional monarchy in Scandinavia, bordering Sweden on one side and the North Sea on the other. It is a founding member of NATO as well as of the Council of Europe. Much of its wealth comes from the government-controlled petroleum industries, but it also has a thriving private sector. Nearly 95 percent of its population of approximately 5.2 million is Norwegian, with 3.6 percent hailing from other European countries and the remaining 2 percent from other continents. Almost 85 percent of the population is Christian and 10.1 percent are unaffiliated. Just under 4 percent of its population is Muslim, 0.5% is Hindu, 0.6% is Buddhist, and 0.1% is Jewish.
Norway has been a strong supporter of the OSCE process and outspoken on human rights concerns. In addition to hosting a 1991 CSCE Seminar on Democratic Institutions, Norway chaired the OSCE in 1999, and has hosted OSCE PA meetings, including a 2005 Economic Seminar and the 2010 Annual Session.
The OSCE’s former High Commissioner on National Minorities from 2007-2013, Knut Vollebaek, also served as the OSCE’s Chair-in-Office and appeared at a hearing before the Helsinki Commission.
Commission delegations led by Senator Cardin attended the 2010 OSCE PA meeting in Norway, and visited Svalbard, Norway Global Seed Vault in the Arctic Circle to make additions to unique seed collections from around the world.
Following the 2011 Norway attacks by Anders Breivik, the Commission has had a heightened focus on human rights concerns in Norway, including gains by political parties that espouse hate; laws on circumcision and ritual slaughter, which impact Jewish and Muslim life; and monitoring discrimination towards non-ethnic Norwegians (such as Sami and Roma), including high rates of employment discrimination found for people of African descent.
Staff Contact: Alex Tiersky, senior policy advisor