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The Tandem Project is a UN NGO in Special Consultative Status with the
Economic and Social Council of the United Nations

Separation of Religion or Belief and State

Universal Periodic Review reports in six languages


Universal Periodic Review - Norway

Only contributions submitted in one of the United Nations official languages are admissible and posted on this webpage
Date of consideration: Wednesday 2 December 2009 - 9.00 a.m. - 12.00 a.m.



Flag of Norway 

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process launched by the UN Human Rights Council in 2008 to review the human rights obligations and responsibilities of UN Member States by 2011. The UN Human Rights Council has recommended a second cycle starting in 2013. UPR Process and News: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/UPRMain.aspx

NR: http://lib.ohchr.org/HRBodies/UPR/Documents/Session6/NO/A_HRC_WG6_6_NOR_1_E.pdf

Stakeholder Letters: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/UPRNOStakeholdersInfoS6.aspx

WG: http://lib.ohchr.org/HRBodies/UPR/Documents/Session6/NO/A_HRC_13_5_Add.1_Norway_E.pdf

Main Country Page: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/ENACARegion/Pages/NOIndex.aspx


Norway – State Church & Freedom of Religion or Belief; Norway – Sites of Conflict into Beacons of Peace;
History of Interfaith Dialogue in Norway – Is it Possible at the Parish Level; Norway UPR Follow-up Contacts


U.S. State Department 2010 International Religious Freedom Report, Norway




National Report: “Norway has a constitutional state church system that has been the subject of criticism as a matter of principle from several quarters, including the UN Human Rights Committee. Article 2 of the Constitution protects certain aspects of freedom of religion or belief, but does not go as far as the protection provided by international human rights principles.” “A White Paper has been discussed in Parliament, and formal proposals to amend all seven articles in the Constitution establishing the state church system has been submitted. The proposals will be voted on in the next parliamentary session.” “In connection with continuous focus on dialogue, cooperation between religious and life stance communities, the authorities and the general population, grants are provided for three councils for religion and belief: the Council of Religious and Life Stance Communities, the Islamic Council of Norway and the Christian Council of Norway.” “Religious and belief communities outside the Church of Norway have a statutory right to claim an annual financial grant from the State and municipal authorities. This grant scheme is unique internationally.” 

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC/c/NOR/co/4) 29 January 2010 for Civil Rights and Freedoms welcomed an amendment to the Education Act, the newly  named Religion, Philosophical Life and Ethics curriculum and were concerned about implementation at a local level.  The Committee recommends that the State Party “conduct a study on how the aims of the revised subject are achieved and what kind of support teachers need to implement the objectives.” The Committee for the CRC further “recommends the State Party (Norway) examine educational objectives and practices of isolated religious communities with respect to their compatibility with the child’s right to a holistic, human rights oriented education.”

The European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance (ERCI) Norwegian Forum on the Rights of the Child (NFRC) and Norwegian Ombudsman for Children concurred that legislation be “fine-tuned” in this field. The ERCI recommends “strengthening efforts to counter instances of racist expression committed through the Internet; monitor all manifestations of Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, indigenous (Sami) population.”  

National Centre for Human Rights (NCHR): NCHR established in 2002 is Norway’s independent National Institution for Human Rights under the Paris Principles.

“The Government has purposed a new formulation of the Constitution § 2 articulating basic values. It mentions humanity and Christianity specifically, with no reference to other religions or beliefs. This may not be in conflict with any human rights conventions; it might however exclude groups of the population. The same problem arises in the statements of objectives in the law on both schools and kindergartens. NCHR finds the principle of inclusion to be highly relevant in this debate. NCHR recommends that Norwegian authorities reconsider whether there is a need for explicitly highlighting the Christian belief in the constitutional values and in the statement of objectives in the laws on schools and kindergartens.”

“Norway has prepared two overall documents on human rights in Norway, one in 1977 and one in 1999. The latter is a National Plan of Action for human rights. This document is no longer in use, the last report covering the years 2004-2005. The present lack of a comprehensive plan leaves Norway without a holistic approach to human rights. In addition, Norway has no body that gives attention to these matters on an overall basis. The NCHR recommends that Norway strengthens the implementation of human rights by developing a new National Plan of Action for human rights as recommended in the 1993 Vienna Declaration. The work should be led by a high-level National Committee for Human Rights – a national coordinating and monitoring body – either at the Government or Parliament level.”

“NCHR has been operational as a national institution since 2002 and was accredited internationally with “A”status in 2006. Norway is up for consideration for new international accreditation in 2011. NCHR finds that the time is right for an evaluation, assessing to what extent the National institution for human rights has the desired effect and sufficient capacity and resources to fulfill its role.”

The Tandem Project a non-governmental organization (NGO) founded in 1986 to build understanding, tolerance, and respect for diversity of religion or belief, and to prevent discrimination in matters relating to freedom of religion or belief. The Tandem Project has sponsored multiple conferences, curricula, reference material and programs on Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights- Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion – and the 1981 United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.

In 1968 the United Nations deferred work on a legally-binding treaty on religious intolerance as too complex and sensitive and passed a non-binding declaration in its place. The Tandem Project believes until a core legally-binding human rights Convention on Freedom of Religion or Belief  is adopted international human rights law will be incomplete. It may be time to begin to consider reinstating the 1968 Working Group to better organize and bring all matters relating to freedom of religion or belief under one banner, a core international human rights legally-binding treaty.

Global Advocacy for the Universal Values and Principles of Human Rights
and Freedom of Religion or Belief through Education and Research