Grete Faremo

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Grete Faremo at the Nordic Council Session (Reykjavik, 2010).

Grete Faremo (born 16 June 1955) is a former Norwegian politician, lawyer and business leader. Since August 2014, she has held the post of Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS). During her political career, she held high-level positions in the Norwegian Government including Minister of Justice (twice), Minister of Petroleum and Energy and Minister of Defence.

Family background and professional career[edit]

Faremo was born in Arendal in 1955 and grew up in Byglandsfjord,[1] Setesdal, southern Norway. She is the daughter of the Norwegian politician Osmund Faremo (1921-1999) and Tora Aamlid (1921). Much of Faremo’s early political philosophy was strongly influenced by her father, who was a prisoner of war during the Second World War, after being arrested as part of Adolf Hitler’s Nacht und Nebel directive.

Faremo attended Hornnes Gymnas in the nearby town of Hornnes and graduated in 1973. She went on to study law at the University of Oslo, specializing in international law and spent a summer in 1978 at The Hague Academy of International Law. The same year, Faremo graduated from university with a Master’s degree in Law.[2]

She entered public service 1979, joining the Ministry of Finance as a Legal Officer. She then went on to work as a Legal Officer in the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (1980-1984). Following this, she was appointed Head of Division of the Ministry of Development and left in 1986 to take up a new position as Chief Negotiator at property management company, Aker Eiendom AS. Two years later, she became the Executive Director at Theatrium AS, at the newly developed Aker Brygge in Oslo, leaving in 1990 to become a Director in the Norwegian Arbeiderpresse (now known as Amedia).[3]

In 1997, Faremo became Executive Vice-President of Storebrand, a Norwegian financial services company. She left in 2004 to take on the role as Director of Law, Corporate Affairs and Public Relations at Microsoft Corporation's North Europe Office and later Western Europe Office, where she developed the legal and public affairs division responsible for corporate compliance in the region. She stepped down in 2008. She was also a partner at an independent consulting firm, Rådgiverne LOS AS, for short period in 2009, before she joined the Government.

Faremo has also sat on various advisory boards and associations throughout her career, including as a member of the Press Council from 1998 to 2004, Chairman of Statnett SF (2000-2005), Chairman of the Norwegian People's Aid (2003-2007), Deputy Chairman of the Defence Research (2006-2009), Deputy Chairman of Norsk Hydro ASA (2006-2009), Board Member of COWI AS (2008-2009), Chairman of the Norwegian Health SF in 2009, the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra and the University of Bergen.[4]

Political career[edit]

On 3 November 1990, Faremo was appointed Minister of International Development as part of Gro Harlem Brundtland’s Third Cabinet. She held this post for two years before being promoted to Minister of Justice and Public Security in September 1992. The following year, in the 1993 Norwegian parliamentary elections, Faremo was elected to the Storting, representing the Oslo constituency. Before this, she was a member of the Oslo City Council from 1987 to 1991.

During her time as Minister of Justice, Faremo initiated negotiations between Schengen member countries and Norway on security and free movement in Europe, which culminated in the Nordic Schengen Agreement, signed in 1996 by the Governments of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.[5]

She continued as Justice Minister until the cabinet reshuffle in October 1996, where she was asked by newly appointed Prime Minister Thorbjørn Jagland to take over the Petroleum and Energy portfolio. However, just two months after her appointment, Faremo was forced to resign from the cabinet following the Berge Furre affair, which had revealed that the Norwegian Police Security Service were illegally spying on Socialist Left Party politician, Berge Furre, while he was a member of the Lund Commission – a group appointed to investigate allegations of illegal surveillance of Norwegian citizens.

The illegal surveillance of Furre took place at the same time that Faremo was Justice Minister. She therefore took political responsibility for the scandal. Faremo resigned from the cabinet on 18 December 1996, but continued in her role as a Member of Parliament in the Storting until the following general election in 1997 when she did not seek re-election.[6]

Return to government as Minister of Defence[edit]

After working in the private sector for 12 years, Faremo returned to Norwegian politics when she was appointed Minister of Defence under Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg’s Second Cabinet. During her time as Defence Minister, she headed the preparation of a new long-term plan for Norwegian defence, which formed the basis for the new Air Force organization, including the acquisition of new F35 fighter jets.[7]

Minister of Justice following the 2011 Norway attacks[edit]

Facing mounting pressure in the aftermath of the 2011 Norway attacks over the state of the police and security, the incumbent Justice Minister, Knut Storberget, announced his resignation. He declared that six years as Justice Minister was sufficient and that he wished to focus his attention on remaining in parliament and his family.[8] Faremo took over the Ministry on 11 November 2011, tasked with strengthening the Norwegian emergency system. This involved the establishment of a new structure, new communication systems, and clear chains of command for crisis management and communications. A thorough analysis of the police, commissioned by Faremo, formed the basis for reforms in the Norwegian police structure.[9]

Faremo lost her position as Minister of Justice following the 2013 Norwegian parliamentary election in which the incumbent red-green coalition lost to the a centre-right coalition made up of the Conservatives and the Progress Party – known as the “Blue-Blue” coalition.

Executive Director of United Nations Office for Project Services[edit]

On 7 May 2014, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the appointment of Faremo as the Under-Secretary-General and new Executive Director of the UNOPS. She replaced Jan Mattsson who stepped down after being in charge for eight years.

Since taking over as Executive Director, Faremo emphasised her ambition to increase the visibility and transparency of the organization. Speaking about her goals, Faremo said: “I think UNOPS holds experiences and has made great achievements that should be better communicated, so I’ve taken it on as an important task for me to share more of that.” [10]

During her first year, UNOPS continued to grow its services and continued its work with a range of international partners, including with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in Syria, where UNOPS plays an important role in supporting the verification and monitoring activities of the OPCW. UNOPS has also worked closely with the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response, the World Health Organization, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Governments of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia to address the needs of communities and health workers affected by the Ebola Virus Disease, as part of larger recovery efforts in the region.[11]

In June 2015, Faremo travelled to Honduras where UNOPS signed a new agreement with the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (BCIE). The new agreement will see UNOPS and the BCIE work closely together to increase the ability of Central American countries to effectively design, implement and manage public projects as well as public-private partnership initiatives.

Personal life[edit]

Outside of her political and professional life, Faremo is an experienced singer. She began singing from a young age and is skilled in a variety of genres including pop, rock, musicals and cabarets. She is particularly fond of performing songs by the French cabaret singer, Édith Piaf.

In 2000, she featured on a song with Norwegian rock and folk artist Trond Granlund called “Losbylinna” which spent five weeks at Number 1 on NRK’s Norsktoppen chart[12] [13]

She is a polyglot, fully fluent in English, Danish and Swedish, aside from her Norwegian mother tongue.

Her partner is Norwegian actor, Magne Lindholm. Together they have one daughter, Oda, who works as a journalist, author and historian in Oslo.


  1. ^ Linda Karoline Ringstad: Hør justisminister Grete Faremos stevleik NRK, 12 February 2013 (Norwegian)
  2. ^ Tidligere justis- og beredskapsminister Grete Faremo ( Ap ) (Norwegian)
  3. ^ LinkedIn (Norwegian)
  4. ^ Norsk Biografisk Leksikon (Norwegian)
  5. ^ DK Diplomat May Issue 2015 May, 2015 (Norwegian)
  6. ^ Norsk Biografisk Leksikon (Norwegian)
  7. ^ Grete Faremo COWI CV (Norwegian)
  8. ^ LARS INGE STAVELAND; JØRUND HESSEVIK:Knut Storberget går av Aftenposten, 11 November 2011 (Norwegian)
  9. ^ Grete Faremo COWI CV (Norwegian)
  10. ^ Kelli Rogers: Supporting excellence: How UNOPS' Grete Faremo plans to 'walk the talk' Devex, 18 November 2014(Norwegian)
  11. ^ UNOPS: UNOPS supporting Ebola recovery phase across West Africa 6 February 2015(Norwegian)
  12. ^ Ingeborg Huse Amundsen og Maria Mikkelsen: Hør Grete Faremo synge! 7 December 2013(Norwegian)
  13. ^ UNOPS: Norsktoppen September, 2000(Norwegian)
Political offices
Preceded by
Kari Gjesteby
Norwegian Minister of Justice and the Police
Succeeded by
Anne Holt
Preceded by
Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen
Minister of Defence
Succeeded by
Espen Barth Eide
Preceded by
Knut Storberget
Norwegian Minister of Justice and the Police
Succeeded by
Anders Anundsen