A Short History of the Oslo Center

In 2006, Kjell Magne Bondevik, former prime minister of Norway, and Einar Steensnæs, former member of the Norwegian Parliament founded the Oslo Center as a small and flexible center to promote peace and human rights using dialogue and bridge-building.
During the first four years since its inception, the Oslo Center promoted peace and human rights through intercultural and interreligious dialogue and knowledge exchange. This meant raising human rights concerns internationally, which also led to the development and publishing of reports of the human rights situation in various countries including Eritrea and North Korea. Additionally the Oslo Center created international projects on coalition building, human rights and democratization in many countries, including Kenya, Somalia, Myanmar and Ukraine. The Oslo Center was also a central actor in the development of «Universal Code of Conduct on Holy Sites». The Universal Code maps out a practical code of conduct and policy for sacred places worldwide, aiming to improve the protection of holy sites and promote inter-religious reconciliation.
Founder of the Oslo Center, Kjell Magne Bondevik together with Kofi Annan in one of the Oslo Center’s events.
“I am so proud that the Oslo Center developed expertise and focus on democracy assistance. The status of democracy is being challenged worldwide, and this type of support is much needed in many countries. One example is our collaboration in Kenya with political parties, supporting them to be more democratic, relying less on individuals and more on processes and political programs.”
– Kjell Magne Bondevik, Founder and Executive Chair of the Oslo Center
After 2010 the Oslo Center made a strategic shift from human rights to democracy assistance and institution building. The work of human rights and interreligious dialogue still being a priority, but rather as an integrated component of democracy assistance. From this point on the Oslo Center has shared technical expertise and experience to support good governance, political institution-building, inclusive participation, and civic engagement.

Today, the Oslo Center has evolved into a dynamic organization with international partners and an ever-growing interest in our activity. The positive impact of our support in democratization encourages us to set new higher objectives to enlarge our reach, help more partners in their democratization path while promoting peaceful and inclusive societies and fostering strong, transparent, and accountable institutions.

Throughout the years the Oslo Center has grown and developed into the organization it is today. It is our practical and process oriented approach, as well as the significance we put on local ownership that has made us into who we are today.