Hilde Waage

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Hilde Henriksen Waage (born 18 August 1959 in Drammen) is a Norwegian historian.

Waage took the Cand.philol. degree at the University of Oslo in 1987 and the Dr.philos. degree in 1997, both in history. She became a professor at the University of Oslo in 2007. Before this, Waage worked at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), mostly as a researcher but also as acting director (September 1992 – April 1993) and deputy director (1996–2005).[1]

Waage has produced foundational contributions to Norwegian scholarship on Norway's role in the Oslo process of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations during the early to mid-1990s.[2] She has also been critical of the doctoral thesis of former Norwegian State Secretary Jan Egeland, who was intimately involved with the Oslo negotiations, and has used the Oslo process to demonstrate what she calls "the limits of third-party mediation by a small state in highly asymmetrical conflicts," in contradiction to Egeland's thesis.[3]

Part of the Oslo process involved the famous back-channel negotiations, which were mediated by Norway. In 2001, Waage was commissioned by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) to conduct a comprehensive study of this back channel. In order to carry out the research, she was granted privileged access to all relevant, still-classified files in the ministry’s archives. The MFA had been at the heart of the Oslo process, but when Waage set to work at the archives she was surprised to discover "not a single scrap of paper for the entire period from January to September 1993—precisely the period of the backchannel talks." Such documentation does exist, and has been quoted by Israeli accounts of the Oslo process, but attempts to uncover it have failed, and significant amounts of documentation held by, inter alia, former Foreign Minister Johan Jørgen Holst has been refused access to. Waage and others speculate that such documentation has been kept hidden for party-political reasons, to avoid upsetting Israeli and US sensitivities about Israel's stance during the Oslo process, and for the vested interests of the Norwegian officials involved: Waage describes Norway under the guidance of Terje Rød-Larsen, his wife Mona Juul, Jan Egeland and Johan Jørgen Holst as "Israel's helpful errand boy."[3]

Waage divides her country's role at Oslo into two phases. In the first, "the Norwegians played only the role of a very modest facilitator"; however, during the second, from May 1993 after the Israelis upgraded the status of the Oslo talks:

Norway was . . . also an active mediator. . . . But its mediation role did not involve being on equal terms with each of the involved parties. . . . No evidence has been found showing or even suggesting that the Norwegians argued in the same way towards the Israelis as they did towards the Palestinians. . . . There appears to have been a striking lack of even-handedness on the part of the Norwegians in terms of attempts to persuade the Israeli actors to see the Palestinian point of view or revealing to the PLO where the Palestinians might have had their best negotiating chances. . . . The result achieved in 1993, the Oslo Agreement, was not an ordinary peace agreement. In essence, it was more of a timetable, a point of departure with many vaguely formulated intentions. PLO leader Arafat's willingness to accept the Oslo Accord, with all its shortcomings and compromises, was clearly a result of his fear of being permanently marginalized.[4]:165–6

Selected bibliography[edit]


  1. ^ University of Oslo
  2. ^ Hilde Henriksen Waage, Peacemaking Is a Risky Business: Norway’s Role in the Peace Process in the Middle East, 1993–96 (Oslo: PRIO, 2004)
  3. ^ a b Postscript to Oslo: The Mystery of Norway's Missing Files, Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. XXXVIII, No. 1 (Autumn 2008)
  4. ^ "The 'Minnow' and the 'Whale': Norway and the United States in the Peace Process in the Middle East". British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 34 (2): 157–176. 2007. doi:10.1080/13530190701427917. JSTOR 20455504.