Oslo claims Sudan stance ‘is clear’

Norways Minister of Environment and Development

Norway's Minister of Environment and International Development Erik Solheim

Norway has rejected claims that its Oil for Development program “lacks clarity” in its engagement with Sudan

In a report released today, non-governmental organization Global Witness said the program is “unclear about what it expects from its engagement with Sudan, both with respect to human rights and good governance.”

The report, “Fuelling Mistrust: The Need for Transparency in Sudan’s Oil Industry,” said: “Norway’s Oil for Development programme does not have sufficient safeguards in place to ensure that the money does not end up fuelling conflict and corruption.”

However, Erik Solheim, Norway’s Minister of the Environment & International Development, denied there was any confusion, saying Oslo’s engagement is based upon seeing an improvement in Sudan’s governance of the oil sector.

He added: “The most important human rights issue in Sudan today is to avoid war. Norway’s support for this is our most important contribution to the country.”

Solheim also said the Oil for Development program adheres to the human rights framework that applies to all Norwegian development work.

“We raise the need for better governance and human rights regularly in meetings with the central government in Khartoum and the regional government of south Sudan,” he said.

“The main objective of Oil for Development in Sudan is to strengthen the peace agreement between the North and the South and ensure the principles of transparency [are respected].”

The Oil for Development program, which involves Solheim’s ministry, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the country’s aid agency, the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, aims to help developing nations manage their hydrocarbon resources efficiently and transparently.

In its annual report, the program, which spends about NOK 24 million (USD $4 million) on Sudan, said Sudan is one of its core cooperation countries.

An Oil for Development spokeswoman said that Norwegian assistance does not include direct funding, but instead involves having advisers on the ground to assist and advise government and official agencies.

Sudan is slowly rebuilding after the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement ended a 22-year civil war between Sudan’s Muslim north and its mostly Christian and animist south. The majority of Sudan’s oil is found in the south.

Click here to read the Global Witness report – Fuelling Mistrust: The Need for Transparency in Sudan’s Oil Industry.

Source: UpstreamOnline.com

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