Norwegian Aid Money Goes to Lobbying in the U.S.

Norwegian daily Aftenposten reports that Norway is a major financial resource for American think tanks.

Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre, an independent organization established by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2008, posted an internal report dated May 2012. The report, which Aftenposten has gained access to, states that NOK 250 million of the aid budget was used for almost 40 organizations in the United States, while only NOK 128 million went to developing countries in need last year.

Many of the 40 organizations involved in research, development and environmental protection. Others are more typical think tanks, like the Brookings Institution and the Center for American Progress. Another beneficiary is United States Institute of Peace (USIP), according to the report.   Yet, Public Affairs Specialist, Steven Ruder from USIP noted USIP is not funded by neither by Norway nor any other foreign country directly but the institution was only partner to some projects to which Norwegian Foreign Ministry has provided funds.

The report also added that Norway aims to gain more influence in Washington with this support: “The size of the contributions gives Norway a significant positive position,” as it is called in the secret stamped report.

Conservative Politician Protests

Member of Parliements from Conservative Party (Høyre), Peter S. Gitmark criticises the support to these institutions.

– Norway is using the aid budget to buy American political influence. It would have been far better and cheaper to use the Norwegian political influence and friendship on the other side of the Atlantic, says Gitmark.

Conservative politician also adds that he does not mind either organizations or purposes. There are negative sides of these support.

– There are three main reasons: These are hidden. There are numbers that are not found in publicly available documents, as far as we can see. And the money is distributed across so many organizations that I do not think money is going to those who provide the most and best. Thirdly, there is great doubt about the usefulness of this spending, he said. 

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