Norwegian Labour Party opening up towards TPNW signature


Support for the TPNW in NATO states is growing. The Norwegian Labour Party recently adopted its most progressive position on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Such a change in perception towards the TPNW comes just ahead of the national elections in September, where the Arbeidepartiet is contesting to form government.

Norway’s Labour Party, Arbeidepartiet (Ap), which looks likely to form government after the country’s elections in September 2021, has adopted a party programme for the next four years that says that “[i]t should be a goal for Norway and other NATO countries to sign the TPNW.”

Labour has also previously made statements to this end, but at their national congress on 17 April this view was for the first time embedded in the party programme, which will form the basis for negotiations with future coalition partners about a government platform.

Concretely, the new party programme says the following: The TPNW is a good initiative and contributes to increase stigma around nuclear weapons. In the current security situation, it is not possible for NATO countries like Norway to sign without reducing our possibility for influence and protection. It should be a goal for Norway and other NATO countries to sign the TPNW.»

“Some would say that this is too vague to have meaning, but if the Labour Party now gains power, they cannot remain idle but will have to seek to realize this goal,” says Henriette Westhrin, Secretary-General of ICAN Partner Organisations, Norwegian People’s Aid.

In NATO the new relatively conciliatory formulation in the Labour Party’s party programme will likely draw reactions. For instance, it contradicts a recent statement on the TPNW from the North Atlantic Council (NAC) which says that the NATO “collectively reiterate [their] opposition to this treaty”.

At the national congress, Labour’s party leader Jonas Gahr Støre said that the TPNW, “is not a treaty that Norway as a NATO country can sign alone”.

“We expect Støre to initiate dialogue and work to ensure that Norway can sign with other NATO countries. There is more room for manoeuvring in NATO than Norway uses today, and we are not the only NATO member that finds it uncomfortable that rejecting weapons of mass destruction now is being defined as “anti NATO”, says Anja Lillegraven from Norske Leger mot Atomvåpen

A key driver behind the momentum behind the TPNW was the party’s youth wing, Arbeidernes Ungdomsfylking (a partner organisation of ICAN). Though they pushed for even stronger language that was ultimately not adopted, the overall effort contributed to pushing the party in the right direction. 

Six former Norwegian ministers, including three from the Labour Party (Thorbjørn Jagland, Bjørn Tore Godal, and Anne-Grete Strøm Erichsen) last year published an article asking the government to sign and ratifiy the TPNW. 48 Norwegian cities and municipalities have joined ICAN’s Cities Appeal, including the capital Oslo.


Header photo: Arbeiderpartiet | Flickr CC BY ND 2.0