Guidance to the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global on Current Armed Conflicts and IHL

5 May 2022

At the request of the Council on Ethics of the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global – also known as the Oil Fund and the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund – the Geneva Academy provided background information – in the form of a report – on current armed conflicts and international humanitarian law (IHL).

The author of the report, our Research Fellow Dr Chiara Redaelli, presented the report’s main findings to the Council of Ethics on 28 April and briefed its members on current armed conflicts and IHL.

The Council members were very happy with the report and pleased by the very clear and structured presentation at the Council meeting.

Identifying States Committing War Crimes to Inform the Fund’s Investment Policy

The Fund’s ethical guidelines regulate its investment policy. Updated in September 2021, these guidelines notably underline that companies that are selling arms to states who then use them in violations of IHL should be removed from the Fund’s portfolio.

On this basis, the Council on Ethics must identify states engaged in armed conflicts that use weapons in ways that constitute serious and systematic violations of the international rules on the conduct of hostilities, as well as companies in the Fund's portfolio that sell weapons to these states.

‘Our report aims at providing the Council with factual and clear information in order to make informed decisions about its portfolio and investments’ It is important to have an open and honest discussion on these crucial issues, and it has been a pleasure to see the interest and commitment shown by the members of the Council’ explains Dr Redaelli.

The report – which remains confidential – starts by identifying the current situations of armed violence that amount to an armed conflict under IHL. It then identifies the states that are party to one or several armed conflicts and, among these, those that use weapons in ways that constitute serious IHL violations as defined in Article 7(1)(b)(i) of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), namely those committing possible war crimes.

Building on our RULAC Online Portal

The report draws on our Rule of Law in Armed Conflict (RULAC) online portal to identify the current situations of armed violence that amount to an armed conflict under IHL and states that are parties to these conflicts.

This unique online resource – and the sole independent and public classification of armed conflicts – currently monitors more than 110 armed conflicts involving at least 55 states and more than 70 armed non-state actors.

For each conflict, RULAC details the factual and methodological basis for its classification and identifies the parties and the applicable international law. The portal also includes sections on the definition and categories of armed conflict under IHL and the legal framework governing armed conflicts.

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