Norwegian Peace Fund Committee of the Norwegian Society of Friends

Report 2002-2004

Mailing address: Mårveien 7, N-3124 Tønsberg. Phone: +47-33 32 64 35 (Norwegian Friends (Quakers); fax: +47-22 43 63 01.  Report written by Elizabeth H. Chapman 

Our group now consists of 6 adults. The teenage daughter of 2 members attends now and then. The meetings are informal, with a flat structure but Bjørg Berg shoulders the largest burden taking the responsibility for minutes and archives. The Norwegian Quakers allot us from the yearly budget NOK 9000. In addition, several individuals have donated money directly to our project. Our group had 20 regular meeting in 2003 as well as taking part in numerous peace for a and demonstrations. We have represented Norwegian Quakers at an annual contact meeting of the Christian Democratic party (one of the parties in the currently ruling coalition), thus currently confirming Quakers written statement with a spoken appeal against the Iraq war.

We write letters/articles regarding war/peace/social structure to the newspapers, and introduce the peace fund/tax idea in these, and when interviewed. We are not always successful in having them printed, it being nearly impossible as regards national newspapers. A big triumph occurred when the newspaper Vårt Land (29.131 subscribers) used Peace Tax for a font-page headline continuing with detail on pages 2 and 3! Our local paper (33.765 subscribers) has given us good coverage.

Directly after the German CPTI gathering (autumn 2002), one small district (8000 inhabitants) voted unanimously over an interpellation forwarded thus: Can Re County influence the Parliament to reconsider the law proposal (previously rejected) regarding a peace fund, giving citizens the right to transfer the military portion of their tax to a fund for conflict reducing and peace building activity? The mayor's response was worded, in part: Norway already has a law which makes it possible to be exempted from military duty on grounds of faith and conscience. I can understand the difficulty some have in paying tax for military uses. This question can be deemed unsuited for a town council. On the other hand the representatives in the central government can find it non relevant because there is little local interest for the issue. Our Parliamentary president replied saying that he had informed each party within the Parliament and reminded us of the proposal's former rejection. The representative who forwarded the Peace Tax proposal had made it clear that we must have local and stronger support before he can once more make a motion in Parliament for this law. This was stressed in the comprehensive Vårt Land newspaper article (see above).

Therefore our struggles will now be to lobby other townships/city councils to follow Re's example. We have discovered that if we can manage to provide the politicians with a least 300 signatures requesting a topic to be put on their agenda, they are duty bound to do so. 

Our brochure has been revised, but we need to make further changes. We have held a lecture Paying for Peace, is it a Human Right, at the University of Tromsø. We have a representative at the Norwegian peace council (umbrella organization). 

GroHarlem Brundtland, former Norwegian Prime Minister and former leader of the World Health Organization, established a fund for Preventive action in 1997 under the auspices of the United Nations. We have tried to find out what has become of this, because of its necessity and its possible use of our peace tax fund money.