|Secretary General of the Council of Europe|
1 October 2009
|Preceded by||Terry Davis|
|Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee|
1 January 2009
|Preceded by||Ole Danbolt Mjøs|
|17th President of the Storting|
10 October 2005 – 1 October 2009
|Preceded by||Jørgen Kosmo|
|Succeeded by||Dag Terje Andersen|
|Minister of Foreign Affairs|
17 March 2000 – 19 October 2001
|Prime Minister||Jens Stoltenberg|
|Preceded by||Knut Vollebæk|
|Succeeded by||Jan Petersen|
|Prime Minister of Norway|
25 October 1996 – 17 October 1997
|Preceded by||Gro Harlem Brundtland|
|Succeeded by||Kjell Magne Bondevik|
|Member of Parliament № 1
5 November 1950 |
|Political party||Norwegian Labour Party|
|Alma mater||University of Oslo|
|Religion||Church of Norway|
Thorbjørn Jagland (help·info) (born Thorbjørn Johansen on 5 November 1950) is a Norwegian politician from the Labour Party, currently serving as the Secretary General of the Council of Europe (since 2009). He is also the Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee (since 2009), which is responsible for awarding the Nobel Peace Prize.
Jagland studied economics at the University of Oslo. He started his political career in the Workers' Youth League, and served as national leader from 1977 to 1981.
Jagland served as Prime Minister of Norway from 1996 to 1997, Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2000 to 2001, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Storting from 2001 to 2005 and President of the Storting from 2005 to 2009. Prior to becoming Prime Minister, Jagland served as Party Secretary of the Norwegian Labour Party from 1986 to 1992, and subsequently Party Leader until 2002, when he was succeeded by Jens Stoltenberg. He was Member of the Storting from 1993 to 2009, when he did not run for reelection.
Few Norwegian politicians have held as many international positions as Jagland. He was Vice-President of the Socialist International  and was Chair of the Organisation's Board when Willy Brandt was President. Jagland also chaired its Middle East Committee for 10 years. Furthermore, Jagland was one of five members of the Mitchell Committee appointed by President Clinton and Secretary-General Kofi Annan to advise on how to end violence in the Middle East. Jagland is a Honorary Board member of the Peres Center for Peace and was Chair of the Board of the Oslo Centre for Peace and Human Rights but left when he became Chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
- 1 Early and personal life
- 2 Political career
- 3 Other positions
- 4 Political views
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Early and personal life
Thorbjørn Jagland was born on 5 November 1950 in Drammen and is the son of a welder, Helge Th. Jagland, and a cook, Ingrid Bjerknes. Jagland graduated from secondary school in 1969. Along with his twin brother Helge, Thorbjørn Jagland studied economics at the University of Oslo, but was at the same time involved in politics and did not finish his studies.
He married journalist Hanne Grotjord in 1976. The couple has two sons, Anders (born 1978) and Henrik (born 1986). As Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Jagland resides in Strasbourg, France.
Jagland has been awarded the title of Commander of the National Order of the Legion of Honour of France for his “tireless commitment to the European continent and the universal values it represents”.
Early involvment, general secretary and elected party leader
In 1966, at age 16, he joined the Lier chapter of the Workers' Youth League (AUF). Rising up rapidly through the party ranks, he was elected leader of the Workers' Youth League in Buskerud, in 1973, a position he held until 1975. That year, he was elected member of the Buskerud county council. In 1977, he became the national leader of the Workers' Youth League, a position he held until 1981. During this period, he said he wanted to bridge the gap between the youth wing and the mother party, but also expressed the need for the Workers' Youth League to have its own political platform. Important issues he supported at that time included the nationalization of the oil industry, permission to conduct petroleum test boring outside Northern Norway, and that the state should use income from the petroleum industry to nationalise domestic industry.
From 1981, he worked as a secretary for the Labour Party; he became acting general secretary in 1986 and was formally appointed to the position in 1987. In his role as secretary of the Labour party, Jagland initiated a number of measures that culminated in organisational and political reforms. The right of the Trade Unions to influence the working of the Labour Party was curtailed; periodic consultations were initiated with civil society outside the party boundaries in the formulation of the party manifesto etc. In 1986, he also became chairman of the Labour Party's International Committee. He held both positions until 1992, when he was elected party leader, succeeding long-time leader Gro Harlem Brundtland.
Jagland was elected to the Norwegian Parliament from Buskerud in 1993, and was re-elected on three occasions. During his first term, Jagland was a member of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, and also served as the fractional leader for the parliamentary group of the party. In 1995, Jagland published a book, titled Brev (Letters), "Vår sårbare verden" (Our vulnerable World) i 2001 and "Ti teser om EU og Norge" (Ten Postulates about the EU & Norway) in 2003.
On 23 October 1996, Gro Harlem Brundtland informed Jagland she was withdrawing from politics and leaving him as head of government. The third cabinet Brundtland resigned, prompting the party leader Jagland to form a new cabinet.
Jagland's cabinet was short-lived with two ministers being forced to withdraw.  He resigned following the 1997 election even though his party won the most votes. Jagland was widely perceived to have been passed over when Jens Stoltenberg formed his second cabinet in 2005.
Jagland launched his vision of the "Norwegian House" during his tenure as Prime Minister. In his speech to the Storting following his appointment, Jagland described the Norwegian House as a foundation with four pillars. The metaphor represented, "the collective value creation within the ecologically sustainable society". The four pillars that hold up the house were business and labour policy; welfare policy; research and educational policy; and foreign and security policy. Jagland stated that everyone had something to contribute regarding the creation of the house; in particular he stated that the cabinet would cooperate with the opposition to reach these goals. In his speech, Jagland said that he would not deviate much from Harlem Brundtland's policies, but that he would increase the focus on violence, abuse of alcohol and drugs, and crime, including improvement of preventative measures and the courts. He also stated that it was important to introduce information technology in all parts of the education system. As part of the construction of the Norwegian House, the cabinet also started to appoint lay councils, with expertise within their fields, that would provide them with feedback and inputs on important areas in society. Jagland stated that the purpose was to allow critical voices close access to the political decisions, and increase the number of ideas generated at a political level. Jagland stated in August 2008 that, "the Norwegian House could have been better planned and prepared, but I did not have the time. I took a chance. The Labour Party was down for the count. My goal was to make a good election; and we did. We have not done so well since". Jagland said in an interview, "I still get letters from people who miss the Norwegian House. It was an attempt at something new, a building project that would also inspire the activity on the side of the parties".
Jagland's 36.9 ultimatum and resignation
Ahead of the 1997 parliamentary election, Jagland announced the cabinet would resign if the party received less than 36.9% of the popular vote. This ultimatum was based on the fact that Jagland had assumed the Prime Minister post based on the votes collected by Brundtland in the 1993 election, which provided an unclear parliamentary basis for governing. The Labour cabinet was only supported by 67 out of 165 members of Parliament, namely its own party group, and thus had to seek support from the largest opposition parties—the Centre Party as well as Labour's traditional adversary, the Conservative Party—on a case-by-case basis. Since the Norwegian Parliament lacks any form of investiture before a cabinet forms, the cabinet, if a minority government, may lack concrete support from its inception. Brundtland had already subscribed to the ad-hoc tactic during her time as Prime Minister, describing it as "slalom racing in the Storting". However, the negotiations in order to land the annual state budget in 1996 were particularly tough. According to political scientist Trond Nordby, Jagland felt that a cabinet which achieved less than 36.9% would not be suited to achieve meaningful results in the face of a superior Parliament.
As it turned out, Labour only received 35.0%. Again, no party won a majority, so the power was given to the first cabinet of Kjell Magne Bondevik, with Jagland resigning on 29 September 1997. This cabinet had an even weaker parliamentary basis. Erik Solheim, the leader of Socialist Left Party (SV), said that if Jagland resigned, "he would go down in history as Norway's most puzzling politician".
Leader of the Labour Party
After the 1997 election, a power struggle developed within the Labour Party, with Stoltenberg seeking to become the new party leader. Labour had lost much of its political power to Kjell Magne Bondevik and his cabinet. The municipal elections in 1999 continued the decline for the Labour Party and discontent grew among party members. Newspapers were full of stories about the power struggle within the party between Jagland and Stoltenberg. During an interview with journalist Kirstin Karlsen from Aftenposten, Jagland was asked, "Did you not want Stoltenberg to get any easier start than you had in 1996? Did he not have enough time to prepare before the election?" Jagland replied:
|“||Stoltenberg had more time. There were many in the Labour Party who thought we had to come back to power as fast as possible, and then he would have some thoughts about what we were doing. ... I just noted that many believed it. It was evidence of how difficult it is to have a government which has no parliamentary basis. So Stoltenberg and I came to the same conclusion, that we had to try to form a majority government.||”|
After several years of strife, the power struggle was essentially concluded in 2000, when Stoltenberg became the party's prime minister candidate and Jagland settled as Minister of Foreign Affairs. When asked about the power struggle, Jagland said "It does not help with bulletproof vests, when the shots come from within".
In 2001, Jagland was replaced as party leader by Jens Stoltenberg the following year under circumstances many in the media deemed controversial. Earlier that very year, an unnamed source within the party told the newspaper Dagbladet that Jagland "most likely" would remain leader up until 2004. However, before any voting took place Jagland relinquished the post. He had recently been hospitalized due to general health problems, and had moreover felt "responsibility to end this destructive personal strife".
A survey in 2000 found that Jagland was second most influential in a list of the 50 most influential persons in Norway.Norges 50 mektigste Dagbladet, 24 December 2001. Retrieved 15 September 2013</ref>
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In 2000, the first cabinet of Bondevik resigned following a motion of confidence. A new Labour cabinet, to be led by Jens Stoltenberg, was announced by King Harald V on 17 March 2000; although Jagland was still party leader at the time, he was passed over for the Prime Minister candidacy, and instead settled for Minister of Foreign Affairs.
One of his first acts as Minister of Foreign Affairs was to visit Belgrade, three years before its collapse. Jagland wanted to improve foreign aid to Yugoslavia and try to find a peaceful solution to the Yugoslav wars. Jagland engineered financial and material support to the forces in Yugoslavia who were opposed to Slobodan Milosevic, a move that increased the popularity of the opposition to Milosevic and his eventual fall from power. The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs furnished computers that helped in revealing the electoral fraud perpetrated by Milosevic. The Norwegian contribution was instrumental in the overthrow of the Milosevic government and Jagland was the first to be invited to the victory celebrations.
As Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jagland visited Sri Lanka in June 2001 to try to reach a level of involvement in the Sri Lankan Civil War. After a brief visit to the capital Colombo, at the request of the Sri Lankan president Chandrika Kumaratunga, Jagland agreed to take a role in the peace process of Sri Lanka between the Sri Lankan Government and the Tamil Tigers.
The Labour Party did not fare well during the 2001 election. In an interview with The Associated Press, Jagland said, "It is unstable and unpredictable". After the votes had been counted, Stoltenberg and his cabinet was forced to resign, suffering from its worst election campaign results since 1924.
Jagland stepped down in 2001 from his post as Foreign Minister in the wake of the collapse of the Stoltenberg government.
President of the Storting
When Jens Stoltenberg formed his second cabinet in 2005, the role of Thorbjørn Jagland posed a difficult problem for Stoltenberg according to many commentators in Norwegian media. Jagland, who had been both party leader and Prime Minister, had subsequently served only as foreign minister under Stoltenberg and thus moved downwards in his career. In 2005, Jagland was not offered the position again, with commentators claiming that he was not considered competent for the position. However, Jagland claims that he himself told Stoltenberg that he did not want to become Foreign Minister again.
In 2005, Jagland was reelected to a fourth term in the Norwegian Parliament. Jørgen Kosmo, the previous President of the Storting, had not stood for parliamentary re-election, and Jagland was elected to this position by the members of parliament on 10 October 2005. Jagland was elected with only one blank vote, whereas his Progress Party opponent, Carl I. Hagen, had 25 blank votes in the Storting. He later said:
|“||This is a completely new era for me. I shall lead the work of the parliament, so that it goes smoothly on rails. Also, I represent the Parliament, both in Norway and abroad.||”|
Jagland told the newspaper Aftenposten he wanted more Norwegian soldiers sent to South Afghanistan: "The Norwegian special forces will certainly be welcome throughout the winter. If NATO is demanding them, Norway should contribute". In 2007, Stoltenberg allowed Jagland to push through his plan to develop Storting as a stronger centre for current political debates, thus increasing the power of the parliamentary members on issues from the cabinet.
A UN conference against racism and discrimination in Geneva was planned for the spring of 2009. Some member states, such as Canada and Israel, had announced that they might boycott the conference because previous such conferences had given way to anti-Semitism and racism. Jagland said Norway was unlikely to undertake any boycott, but he added, "The previous racism conference in Durban, South Africa, in 2001, was a festival in the criticism of Western values. We must never allow the successor conference in Geneva in April next year to be a repetition of this".
In 2009, the cabinet issued a proposal to remove the "Blasphemy Paragraph", part of the criminal law that made blasphemous statements a criminal offense. There was a political consensus in parliament that the paragraph was outdated. The cabinet proposed that it instead by replaced by a "Racism Paragraph", that was aimed at protecting religious groups from attacks, while retaining protection of the academic freedom of speech. All political parties in parliament, except the Centre Party, were opposed to the "Racism Paragraph", but Centre-leader Liv Signe Navarsete stated that she had used her influence to make the Labour Party accept the matter. When asked about the case, Jagland responded: "It will in itself be a paradox if one questions the principle that freedom of speech is subject to the party whip. Especially when it emerges that the question may have been the subject of horse-trading and trying make small coups".
Jagland had also been critical of the lack of parliamentary control permitted by the coalition cabinet. Critics accused Jagland of attacking the Red-Green Cabinet as revenge against Stoltenberg for forcing Jagland to resign as Labour Party leader in 2002. Jagland rejected this as "petty criticism". Jagland announced in September 2008 that he would not seek reelection. He said he decided, with "great sadness", to leave Norwegian politics because he was applying for the position of Secretary-General of the Council of Europe.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee is tasked with selecting candidates for award of the annual Nobel Prize for Peace in accordance with the last will and testamentFull text of Alfred Nobel's Will of Alfred Bernhard Nobel (1833-1896), the Swedish chemist and inventor of dynamite. The Norwegian Parliament selects a committee consisting of 5 persons who then choose the candidates for the prize. This committee is completely independent of the Norwegian Parliament or other institutions, domestic or foreign.
The Nobel Committee announces the winning candidate(s) on the first Friday of each October; prizes themselves are handed out on the 10th of December in Oslo, that date being the birthday of Alfred Nobel.
The announcement of Barack Obama as winner of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, raised a few eyebrows and Jagland had to clarify this choice on several occasions. The Nobel Committee points to the fact that it has to execute the will of Alfred Nobel, in accordance with the following text in his will:
"...The whole of my remaining realizable estate shall be dealt with in the following way...the capital, invested in safe securities by my executors, shall constitute a fund, the interest on which shall be annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind... and one part to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses....The prizes for physics and chemistry shall be awarded by the Swedish Academy of Sciences; that for physiological or medical work by the Caroline Institute in Stockholm; that for literature by the Academy in Stockholm, and that for champions of peace by a committee of five persons to be elected by the Norwegian Storting. It is my express wish that in awarding the prizes no consideration whatever shall be given to the nationality of the candidates, but that the most worthy shall receive the prize, whether he be a Scandinavian or not...."
The justification for award to Barack Obama was anchored in the work he had done to restart the START agreements with Russia and for promotion of dialogue with the Muslim world.
The Nobel Peace Prize for 2012 was awarded to the European Union for "....have for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe." Nobel Peace Prize 2012
Secretary General of the Council of Europe
In 2009 Jagland was elected Secretary General of the Council of Europe,  which is the only large international organisation that elects its leader by secret ballot in a parliamentary assembly. Two-thirds majority among the governments of the 47 member states is required to be put forward as a candidate and presented to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Jagland was elected with 165 against 80 votes in the Parliamentary Assembly. The other candidate was former Prime Minister of Poland Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz.
Since his election Jagland has carried out extensive reform of the Council of Europe with strong support from the governments of the 47 Member States to make the Organisation more politically relevant and influential in Europe,. Jagland has in particular emphasized the importance of cooperation with the EU and the UN and regular consultations are taking place between the Secretary General and the leaders of the EU and the UN Secretary-General.
The Council of Europe was established in 1949 to promote Human Rights, the rule of law and democracy throughout the continent and is the oldest of the European institutions. The Organisation has at its disposal several mechanisms to monitor that the Member States respect their commitments, including under the European Convention on Human Rights. Individuals have the right to take their complaints about Human Rights abuses by Member States to the European Court of Human Rights. An agreement has been negotiated to ensure that also the EU adheres to the European Convention on of Human Rights and comes under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights.
Jagland sees better use of relevant Council of Europe instruments as key to political impact and relevance. A cumulative effect of co-ordinated efforts and actions by the Committee of Ministers, the Parliamentary Assembly, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, the European Commissioner for Human Rights, building on the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights and using the output of the Venice Commission and other advisory and monitoring bodies of the Council of Europe, will create the critical mass of expertise and influence. He sees his role as focused on bringing them together in a targeted political action, supported by concrete assistance, carried out in co-ordination with partners and especially the European Union – and in close dialogue and co-operation with the authorities of the member states concerned.
In 2012, Jagland launched the well attended World Forum For Democracy conferences at the Council of Europe, yet another move designed to give the Council of Europe a more global profile and role. This annual conference brings together statesmen, NGOs, grassroots workers, academics, politicians and prominent people from various walks of life and was inaugurated in 2012 by the Secretary General of the United Nations Ban ki Moon. The 2013 edition of the World Forum for Democracy will again take place in Strasbourg in November and is themed “Re‐wiring Democracy: Connecting Institutions and Citizens in the Digital Age”. 
Against the background of the economic and financial crisis the Council of Europe has under Jagland's watch undergone a rigorous review of its costs and expenses and the cost of staff has declined in proportion to activities. In particular the network of external presence and the intergovernmental committee structure have been rationalised.
Jagland is the elected leader of the Council of Europe Secretariat with its more than 2400 staff members.
Since 1997 Jagland has been member of the International Board of Governors at the Peres Center for Peace. He served as one of several vice presidents of the Socialist International from 1999 to 2008. From 2000 to 2006, he chaired the Socialist International Committee on the Middle East. He became chairman of the board of the Oslo Centre upon its establishment in 2006 but left in 2009 when he became chairman of the Norwegian Noble committee.
Jagland is in favour of Norwegian membership of the European Union. In 1990, he published the book Min europeiske drøm (My European dream). He has also proposed the European Union be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel Peace Prize was finally awarded to the European Union by Jagland himself in 2012. Since 1999, he has stated that the left wing in Norway does not use Socialist International enough. He has outspokenly opposed the perceived presence of Islamophobia in Western societies.
- Lars Gisnås, "Men Bjørn vil være Hansen", Adresseavisen, 10 November 2001, p. 6
- "THORBJORN JAGLAND ELECTED SECRETARY GENERAL OF COUNCIL OF EUROPE". panorama.am. 30 September 2009. Retrieved 2 October 2009.
- "Jagland til Europarådet", Utdanning, 9 October 2009, page 9
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- Thorbjørn Jagland biography at Government.no
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- Nordby, 2004: p. 152
- Nordby, 2004: p. 149
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- Spence, Thomas (13 November 2008). "SV frykter fredspris til EU". Aftenposten (in Norwegian). Retrieved 12 December 2008.
- Flydal, Eiliv Frich. "- Jeg begynner å bli lei hele mannen". Dagbladet (in Norwegian). Retrieved 11 February 2009.
- Jagland, Thorbjørn (12 April 2006). "Islamofobi vårt nye spøkelse?". Aftenposten (in Norwegian). Retrieved 31 March 2008.
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