The central aim of my research is to analyze the "Norwegian model" as an example of multi-party peace mediation and evaluate its strengths and limitations. The Norwegian case is unique in the extent to which NGOs take part in Norwegian foreign relations—a field traditionally limited to sovereign states. While a burgeoning literature addresses the role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in conflict resolution, there is currently very little systematic theory on the role of state-NGO partnerships in this field. I attempt to address this deficiency through an exploratory case study of Norwegian mediation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Guatemala and Sudan. Using a temporal mediation cycle framework based on the Crocker et al. (1999) model, I compare examples of the “Norwegian model” using the method of structured focused comparison along several variable dimensions. Based on the empirical findings from these three cases, I evaluate four hypothesized potential strengths and four potential limitations of the “Norwegian model” of peace mediation.
The results of the study indicate that the proposed “model” is better described as a fluid partnership that reflects a shared set of values about the boundaries of interaction between the public and private spheres. There exists no recipe for the “Norwegian model,” and success on the ground owes far more to the characteristics of the conflicting parties than to the efforts of the mediators. In addition, the presence (or absence) of a powerful actor capable of enforcing implementation proved decisive to the overall outcome following the signing of a negotiated agreement in each of the three cases studied. Nevertheless, the cases illustrate that the Norwegian state and NGO actors provided a valuable contribution to conflict resolution efforts when able to combine the resources and legitimacy of the state with the moral authority and local presence of the NGOs. In sum, the Norwegian role in peace mediation is potentially positive, but certainly limited.