Thorvald Stoltenberg

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Thorvald Stoltenberg
Thorvald Stoltenberg 2009.jpg
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
3 November 1990 – 2 April 1993
Prime MinisterGro Harlem Brundtland
Preceded byKjell Magne Bondevik
Succeeded byJohan Jørgen Holst
In office
9 March 1987 – 16 October 1989
Prime MinisterGro Harlem Brundtland
Preceded byKnut Frydenlund
Succeeded byKjell Magne Bondevik
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
In office
1 January 1990 – 3 November 1990
Preceded byJean-Pierre Hocké [de]
Succeeded bySadako Ogata
Minister of Defence
In office
8 October 1979 – 14 October 1981
Prime MinisterOdvar Nordli
Gro H. Brundtland
Preceded byRolf Arthur Hansen
Succeeded byAnders Sjaastad
Personal details
Born(1931-07-08)8 July 1931
Oslo, Norway
Died13 July 2018(2018-07-13) (aged 87)
Oslo, Norway
Political partyLabour Party
Spouse(s)Karin Heiberg

Thorvald Stoltenberg (8 July 1931 – 13 July 2018) was a Norwegian politician. His ancestors stemmed from Tønsberg. He served as Minister of Defence (1979–81) and Minister of Foreign Affairs (1987–1989 and 1990–1993) in two Labour governments.

From 1989 to 1990 served as Norwegian Ambassador to the UN. In 1990 he became the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, but served only one year before rejoining the Norwegian government.[1] In 1992, Stoltenberg, together with nine Baltic Ministers of Foreign Affairs and an EU commissioner, founded the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) and the EuroFaculty.[2] In 1993 appointed Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for the former Yugoslavia and UN Co-Chairman of the Steering Committee of the International Conference on the former Yugoslavia. Thorvald Stoltenberg was also the UN witness at the signing of Erdut Agreement.

In 2003 he was appointed Chairman of the Board of International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA). Between 1999 and 2008 he was President of the Norwegian Red Cross, the only president to serve three terms. He is also a member of the Trilateral Commission, and holds a seat on their Executive Committee.[citation needed]

At the local level, Stoltenberg was elected to the Oslo City Council in 2015.[3]

Stoltenberg was born in Oslo.[citation needed]


In his youth Stoltenberg became heavily involved in the organization of Hungarian refugees fleeing the invading Soviet Army in 1956. In one particular situation, evacuating refugees by boat in the middle of the night, he jumped into the strong currents, risking his own life to save one of the boats. One of the other rescuers, future famous American journalist Barry Farber called this the greatest act of courage he has ever seen in his life. Stoltenberg himself kept the story a secret, until Farber in December 2006 revealed it on the Norwegian talk-show Først & sist.[citation needed]

Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG)[edit]

In "May 1993, the UN's co-chair at the International Conference on the former Yugoslavia, Th. Stoltenberg was appointed Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG). As such, he acted as head of the UN mission in the former Yugoslavia and served as the first point of contact for the Department of Peacekeeping Operations in New York. All contacts between UNPROFOR in Zagreb and the UN in New York had to run via his office (...) Mr Stoltenberg was responsible for the coordination of all UNPROFOR operations, which also entailed assessments of the political implications of operational decisions as well as the actions of the conflicting parties. In practice, this combination of tasks was impossible to juggle. A serious conflict is said to have occurred between Thorvald Stoltenberg and General Wahlgren's successor, General J. Cot of France".[4]

Cot disagreed with Stoltenberg about the latter's role as SRSG, and at the end of 1993 the two tasks were again split up. Stoltenberg stayed on as co-chair of the peace negotiations in Geneva on behalf of the UN, and on 1 January 1994 the Japanese diplomat Y. Akashi was appointed SRSG responsible for all UNPROFOR operations in the former Yugoslavia. It was he who negotiated with the authorities of the conflicting parties.[5]

Political views[edit]

Lobbying for changes in drug policy[edit]

In 2010, Stoltenberg has led a commission whose primary purpose was to recommend changes in Norwegian drug policy to improve the situation of hard drug addicts. The question of heroin prescription was one of the most controversial topics evaluated by the commission set up by Bjarne Håkon Hanssen. The commission concluded in June 2010 that Norway should start trials with heroin prescription, in addition to making several other changes to its drug policy.[6][7] He also joined an international campaign for a less punitive drug policy, the Global Commission on Drug Policy, consisting of, among others, former Latin American leaders.[8][9][10][11]

Sanctions against Israel[edit]

In 2010, together with 25 other elder statesmen, Stoltenberg sent a letter to EU leaders and the heads of government of the EU countries, demanding sanctions against Israel for its violations of international law. His co-signatories included Javier Solana, Felipe González, Romano Prodi, Lionel Jospin and Mary Robinson.[12][13]

Private life[edit]

He married Karin Heiberg (1931–2012) in 1957. Their son, Jens Stoltenberg (born 1959), followed him into politics and served as Prime Minister of Norway from 2000 to 2001 and from 2005 to 2013, and is the current NATO Secretary-General. They also had two daughters, Camilla (born 1958), a medical researcher and administrator, and Nini (1963–2014) whose heroin addiction has been much publicized.[citation needed] Stoltenberg died on 13 July 2018 at the age of 87 after a short illness.[14][15][16]


  1. ^ "ISAD UNHCR Fonds 13 Records of the Office of the High Commissioner" Archives 11 December 2009.
  2. ^ Kristensen, Gustav N. 2010. Born into a Dream. EuroFaculty and the Council of the Baltic Sea States. Berliner Wissentshafts-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-8305-1769-6.
  3. ^ Dette er Oslos bystyre for 2015 - 2019 Aftenposten (in Norwegian)
  4. ^ "Srebrenica: a 'safe' area - Part II - Dutchbat in the enclave" (PDF). Netherlands Institute for War Documentation.
  5. ^ "Srebrenica: a 'safe' area - Part II - Dutchbat in the enclave" (PDF). Netherlands Institute for War Documentation.
  6. ^ Norwegian commission recommends drug policy reform. Retrieved on 2011-06-22.
  7. ^ "Anbefaler heroin-behandling" (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2011-06-22.
  8. ^ Ex-World Leaders Form Global Drug Policy Commission. Retrieved on 2011-06-22.
  9. ^ "Commission makes recommendations for tackling opioid crisis in North America". The Global Commission on Drug Policy. 2017-10-02. Retrieved 2019-06-11.
  10. ^ AFP: Personalities urge new ways to tackle drug abuse. January 25, 2011. Retrieved on 2011-06-22.
  11. ^ "Who are the Stoltenbergs?". TalkingDrugs. June 24, 2011. Retrieved September 23, 2015.
  12. ^ Stoltenberg krever sanksjoner mot Israel, Fagforbundet
  13. ^ Krever sanksjoner mot Israel, ABC Nyheter
  14. ^ "Norwegian political giant Thorvald Stoltenberg dies aged 87". 2018-07-13. Retrieved 2018-07-13.
  15. ^ "Norway mourns a 'national grandpa'". Retrieved 2018-07-13.
  16. ^ Dimmen, Sofie Dege. "Thorvald Stoltenberg er død". NRK (in Norwegian Bokmål). Retrieved 2018-07-13.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Rolf Arthur Hansen
Minister of Defence
Succeeded by
Anders Sjaastad
Preceded by
Knut Frydenlund
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Kjell Magne Bondevik
Preceded by
Kjell Magne Bondevik
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Johan Jørgen Holst
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Tom Vraalsen
Ambassador of Norway to the United Nations
Succeeded by
Martin Huslid
Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by
Astrid Nøklebye Heiberg
President of the Norwegian Red Cross
Succeeded by
Sven Mollekleiv