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Government Pension Fund Global

The Norwegian Goverment Pension Fund Global, popularly known as the Oilfund, are widely known for its ethical guidelines. What is not as well-known is that one fifth of the fund's investments are in government bonds, which are not covered by these guidelines. Debt Justice Norway thinks that it is unacceptable that these investments, that in essence are loans, are not covered by any substantial ethical guidelines. At the end of 2015, the Fund had 1500 billion Norwegian kroners in outstanding loans through investments in government bonds.

It is a paradox that Norway, that have established clear guidelines for what corporate activity it deems unacceptable for Norway to make a profit on, at the same time invests money in states responsible for serious human right violations through government bonds.

Until 2010, the only guidelines for investments in bonds that the Oilfund could not invest in, was government bonds issued by the Burmese state. Then, in 2010 the goverment expanded the list for countries it was unable to buy bonds from. Currently, restrictions exclude the Fund from investing in bonds from countries placed under comprehensive UN sanctions, or other large-scale international measures. In 2013, Burma was taken off the list, and North-Korea, Iran and Syria was added. In 2016 Iran was taken off the list as international sanctions were lifted, leaving North-Korea and Syria as the only countries not eligable. 

It is especially important that the investments in government bonds are covered by ethical guidelines, as Norway has been at the forefront internationally promoting responsible finance. Norway has, among others, financed a three-year process in the UN to establish principles for responsible lending and borrowing. These experiences should now lead to Norway use similar guidelines for lending through the Oilfund 

In 2008, Debt Justice Norway launched the report "Borrow my Pension", raising this important issue. The report was followed in 2012 by a new report looking specifically on how demands for transparency in the issuing country could make the Oilfund a more responsible lender (read the report Ethical deficit). In 2016, Debt Justice Norway had a massive breakthrough as the Norwegian Parliament decided that the Minstry of Finance and the Bank of Norway were to evaluate the current practice, with an emphasis on the development of ethical guidelines for responsible lending.

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