NOREF is an independent foundation working for the peaceful resolution of armed conflicts. We build on a long Norwegian tradition of informal diplomacy, and work closely with the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).
NOREF’s workload is divided between nurturing informal peace initiatives among actors on the ground – both so-called track two and track one-and-a-half initiatives – and supporting more formalised peace negotiations. In the latter, such as in Colombia or the Philippines, NOREF contributes hands-on mediation support to processes that are led by facilitators like the Norwegian MFA or the United Nations. Our niche expertise includes process logistics and design, the facilitation of military-civilian dialogue, communication in peace processes, and expertise on gender and inclusivity (more under Mediation tools).
The world has seen countless track two peace initiatives: some have matured into fully fledged official peace negotiations. But the support provided and approach taken in such negotiations is often haphazard, and the lessons learned from one process rarely seem to be used in the next. Based on Norwegian experiences and practices, NOREF aims to professionalise the process, identify realistic opportunities for peace and nurture the potential for reconciliation in complex conflict situations. At times, our work resembles that of a start-up incubator: we explore fresh dialogue initiatives, and if we find them viable we spare no effort to help them take off.
Our work is guided by four core values:
- Our only agenda is conflict resolution and reconciliation. We have no other political agenda in the areas in which we operate.
- It is not our job to offer pre-defined solutions to a conflict. Real reconciliation must be shaped by the parties to the conflict; our job is to prepare the ground and to facilitate reconciliation.
- Peace initiatives are as fragile as the hopes they build on. Discretion is therefore essential. We will maintain complete confidentiality for as long as it takes to achieve peace.
- We are in it for the long run. We know that good things happen slowly. We know that processes can stagnate – even seemingly collapse – but we will patiently wait for a window of opportunity to open once again.
Strategic plan 2019–2023
NOREF's strategic plan 2019–2023 lists our objectives and explains how we will organise our work in the years to come.
NOREF was set up in 2008 as a resource centre offering expertise on peacebuilding and conflict resolution. Since 2014 our work has developed into more direct, hands-on operations. NOREF is a private foundation governed by a board that receives funding from the Norwegian MFA and other international donors.
NOREF follows Norwegian procurement legislation, and project initiatives are put out to tender accordingly. Public tenders are made available on the NOREF website and on the websites of Doffin (Norway) and TED (when applicable).
Staff vacancies are announced on NOREF’s website.
Mediation Support Network
Since 2019 NOREF is a member of the Mediation Support Network, a small, global network of primarily non-governmental organisations that support mediation in peace negotiations. The mission of the MSN is to promote and improve mediation practice, processes and standards to address political tensions and armed conflict.
Furthermore, the MSN connects different mediation support units and organisations with the intention of
- promoting exchange about planned and ongoing activities to enable synergies and cumulative impact;
- providing opportunities for collaboration, initiating and encouraging joint activities;
- sharing analysis of trends and ways to address emerging challenges in the field of peace mediation.