The strictest humanitarian : a discourse analysis of the Norwegian government’s foreign aid and asylum policy
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During the autumn of 2015, Norway experienced a significant increased influx of migrants as a result of the war in Syria and instability in the region. The government were quick to ensure how Norway would take international responsibility by providing substantial financial contributions in the region, and also by accepting refugees to Norway. Simultaneously as the government consolidated Norway’s role as a humanitarian great power and pioneer country in the field of aid, they also proposed a series of tightening measures in the asylum policy. The purpose was to reduce the numbers of asylum seekers by sending a signal of Norway having one of the strictest asylum policies in Europe. This created turmoil in the political landscape and among the general public, and the government was accused of a cold and cynical policy breaking with longstanding Norwegian humanitarian traditions. However, this is not the first time the Norwegian government has received condemnations for policies contradicting with the humanitarian identity. Weapon export and military involvement have also created headaches for previous governments. Drawing on existent research on Norwegian foreign policy shows that governments have successfully stabilised such destabilising elements in the past. By approaching this issue from a new empirical angle, the refugee crisis, this thesis seeks to investigate how the Norwegian government manage to reconcile its strict asylum policy with its claim to be a humanitarian power.