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FORUT Policy Document

FORUT will contribute to social mobilisation of the poor and oppressed in their struggle for human rights, being instrumental in reforming society to be responsive to these rights and needs. Solidarity means putting respect above pity, struggling together with underprivileged groups. FORUT draws a clear line against gifts or alms, but wishes to participate in the mobilisation and activation of human resources. An important task is organising against unjust, repressive and exploitative structures. We are working for a higher economic standard for the poor, but also for securing their daily lives, increasing their freedom and integrity, strengthening their social rights and contributing to human development.

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Community development

The quality of a society can be measured by how well it meets the needs of its members, and especially by how it takes care of its poor. Communities all over the world have a wide variety of ways for dealing with poor and marginalised people, usually there are some mechanisms for alleviating their burden. However, traditional systems for dealing with this are under pressure and frequently inadequate when faced with a rapidly changing society. Modern public systems for poverty alleviation are often underresourced, inadequately designed or even non-existent. It is also a fact that many communities are bound to traditions that maintain inequality, poverty and exclusion. Furthermore, external circumstances are often overwhelming and dramatic, making it difficult for communities and individuals to adapt. Still it is necessary for the affected communities to adapt and develop the way they function internally as well as externally. FORUT sees its community development work in this context. We try to strengthen local community capacity to meet the essential needs of its members, especially the poor and the marginalised, so that the community as a whole functions on a higher level.

  • Build the capacity of local communities to make decisions democratically and in a participatory manner
  • Finding joint solutions to common problems.
  • Exercise collective action and solidarity for more effect, internally and externally
  • Use several components (e.g. income generation, preschools, skills training, health, micro-finance) in a single community. The components should support each other, making community development more than the sum of its parts.
  • Emphasise participation, contribution and local resource mobilisation to achieve local ownership and sustainable change.
  • Be prepared to challenge existing traditions and structures

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Strengthening civil society

FORUT recognises the crucial role civil society has to play in order to safeguard human rights, social justice and sustainable development. Civil society comprises various non-governmental organisations, informal groups and coalitions. These will influence the public sector as well as the private for the development of society on a local, regional, national and international level.

Formal and informal organisations and groups, working within communities, can be important vehicles for change and the empowerment of people. Civil society organisations, groups and social movements should be independent and democratic.

FORUT believes that the role of civil society is to empower, protect and advocate the rights of deprived and marginalised people. FORUT will engage with civil society to promote human rights, peace, the prevention of alcohol and drug problems and development.

FORUT will promote establishing, mobilising and strengthening civil society organisations. This can be done through direct intervention or through solidarity actions in collaboration with partner organisations.

  • Empower and strengthen formal and informal groups and organisations that actively participate in the development of their local community. Assist in establishing groups and organisations when necessary.
  • Enabling these groups to be their own advocates and to interact effectively with public institutions and private sector organisations.
  • Build capacity for democratic decision making at a local level, and use this platform to encourage people’s participation in political processes.
  • Empower women, youth and children in their struggle for equal rights and justice, both organisationally - within civil society groups - and in issues pursued by these groups.
  • Promote the rights of deprived and marginalised groups when appropriate.
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Children and youth

Children and youth are capable of taking charge of their own lives. Given the chance, they can be their own spokespeople, driving force and problem-solvers.

Child labour, undernourishment, abuse and regular slavery are concrete realities for millions of children all over the world. Childrens rights are often neglected, and their voices are seldom heard when decisions are made, even for issues directly influencing their lives. Children need backing to defend their own interests and rights. They are subject to adult society’s care or lack of it, and are often easy targets for various forms of exploitation. Children are particularly badly affected by poverty. Ignorance and lack of faith in one’s intrinsic value and potential may cripple the ability to find new solutions. If poverty and exploitation are to be brought to an end, a necessary condition is that these very children acquire the capacity to break the mechanisms that maintain the status quo. They are entitled to relevant education. Education that is poor or of little relevance, can be a contributing factor to children dropping out of school to become child workers or street children. In this respect all institutions in society should acknowledge their responsibility to foster childrens development. FORUT should play an advocacy role.

  • Empower children and youth living in difficult circumstances to enable them to put forward their own opinions and demands. Advocate children’s rights in relation to local authorities and decision-makers. Support organisations that are working to promote child rights in accordance with the UN’s Convention for the Rights of the Child.
  • FORUT will integrate the concern for children and youth in most activities.
  • Secure children’s access to pre-school and school, particularly for girls, and improve the quality of local education as an integrated element in all local community development.
  • Provide vocational or other forms of training for youth in order to give them an alternative to unemployment and poverty.
  • Protect and rehabilitate particularly vulnerable children – street children, child prostitutes and refugee children. Beyond the immediate and direct assistance to these children, the objective is to create viable models for public and private institutions and to mobilise these institutions.
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Alcohol and drug use

Most cultures around the world have some tradition for alcohol production and consumption that extend back in time. Many places these traditions are still alive, but today industrial production tends to provide most of the supply. Alcohol has become a commodity that is part of the globalisation process. Alcohol carries aspects of value to people around the globe, but such drinks are also a threat to human, social and economic development. Some cultures also have traditional use of other drugs, but the use of illegal substances is a growing problem in the global community.

Women and children often carry the burden of alcohol abuse by men, such as: Domestic violence, broken families, neglected children, loss of family income due to sickness, disregard of work or money spent on booze. In situations of scarcity and meagre resources, alcohol and drugs contribute to maintaining poverty. Development of society is also impaired. People turn passive. Social problems, violence, traffic accidents and other harm put additional burdens on countries that struggle with poverty and inadequate health services.

Alcohol and drugs are used to escape from problems and prevent people from developing their potential. Intoxicating substances will often have an oppressive effect for the user or the community depriving them of their freedom and development potential. Sometimes the oppression is intentional where alcohol is used to hold certain groups back from their rights, whereas at other times it is an unintended side effect of some people and companies striving for profit. The ill effects can arise from a single bout of drinking or from the long-term effects of alcohol or drug consumption. Health, social and economic effects are all prevalent.

According to WHO and the World Bank, morbidity from alcohol, measured in years of life lost to disability, has a greater impact on health than even malnutrition or poor sanitation. The study puts alcohols global health impact on par with unsafe sex and above tobacco in terms of its contribution to the total number of years of life lost to death and disability. Intoxication creates irresponsible and destructive patterns of behaviour and contributes to increased spread of HIV/AIDS.

Based on the above FORUT will develop further a methodological approach to integrate alcohol and drug prevention in all FORUTs development activities and:
  • Contribute to building knowledge and designing activities in FORUT’s six partner countries so as to reduce the consumption of alcohol and drugs, and thereby reduce human, social and economic costs.
  • Contribute to strengthening the counter forces against the use of alcohol and drugs.
  • Contribute to mobilising resistance against an expanding alcohol capital.

For more information see FORUTs Alcohol, Drugs and Development Strategy

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Humanitarian assistance

If disaster or emergency situations occur in areas where FORUT is operational, we have an obligation to provide relief assistance. FORUT’s approach will in these instances be participatory and geared towards releasing inherent resources among those affected, with own contribution, responsibility, autonomy and respect as guiding principles. FORUT’s efforts must as soon as possible turn towards rehabilitation, reconstruction and development. Our role in traditional, delivery-oriented relief should be kept to a minimum.

  • Act independently and with neutrality and provide humanitarian assistance on the basis of needs alone, regardless of race, nationality and political or religious standpoints.
  • Give priority to sectors such as water, shelter, food, sanitation, health and education.
  • Co-ordinate own efforts with other actors for the best utilisation of existing resources.
  • In all activities apply the Humanitarian Charter, Minimum Standards and ”Do No Harm” methodology as developed by the Sphere Project.
  • Initiate rehabilitation activities at the earliest possible with special emphasis on children, youth and women.
  • Undertake reconstruction work with a substantial element of own contribution from those affected.
  • Advocate nationally and internationally for the rights of refugees and displaced people, especially children and women, whenever appropriate.
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Refugees and asylum seekers in Norway

The unjust distribution of the worlds resources results in war, bondage and political, economical and social suppression, especially in countries in the South. Global inequality, internal conflicts and war are the main reasons for people fleeing their native countries to seek refuge in Norway and other countries. The life of refugees and asylum seekers is distinguished by insecurity and fear related to the situation in the country they left as well as to the possibilities for staying in Norway. The sense of loneliness and being a stranger may lead to further uncertainty, frustration and psychological imbalance.

FORUTs engagement as the operator of government reception centres for asylum seekers is based on the conception that refugees and asylum seekers are entitled to and in need of a predictable, safe, meaningful and qualifying life while living in a reception centre. FORUT will contribute to meeting these requirements. The reception centres are run according to government directions and the policy and principles incorporated in FORUTs values and humanitarian basis.

FORUT maintains that all humans have a strong instinct of self-preservation enabling them to care for themselves. Refugees and asylum seekers must not be turned into or regarded as dependent, helpless individuals. FORUT regards them as resourceful people to be treated with respect. Working with them implies that refugees and asylum seekers should be active participants, taking responsibility for making life meaningful while staying at the centre. FORUTs role is to release each persons resources in a process to make life as normal as possible, through information, motivation and organisation.

  • Provide (as far as possible) a normal residence for people in an abnormal situation
  • Allow for security and predictability for the asylum seekers within firm structures and routines to empower them to meet with the requirements and expectations of the Norwegian society, while maintaining their own traditions and culture.
  • Support the asylum seekers in gaining new or increased trust in other people and public systems and structures, in order to create their own future.
  • Give priority to individual skill acquisition and collective participation in centre activities.
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Information and awareness work - development education

The objective for FORUT’s information and awareness work (development education) is to enhance people’s awareness of poverty and injustice in order to create involvement in and support for FORUT’s solidarity work.

Development education is important to trigger change, but also to create acceptance of change. Development education will contribute knowledge and insight about the global challenges we are facing, creating social commitment.

Through development education, FORUT wishes to influence the Norwegian public opinion on development assistance and relevant global issues. Another important issue is to influence public opinion on asylum seekers and other minority groups, in order to facilitate their integration in the Norwegian society. Awareness work must start at an early age, and kindergartens and schools are FORUT’s main targets in development education.

  • Raise the awareness and knowledge about global issues, different cultures, FORUT’s project countries, development issues, development co-operation and Norwegian development assistance in general.
  • Aim information and communication at decision makers in order to increase the understanding and support for poverty reduction efforts.
  • Raise the awareness in Norway about alcohol and drugs as obstacles to development.
  • Give voice to poor communities in the South.
  • Give voice to refugees in Norway.
  • Improve the internal flow of information within FORUT and its partner organisations in order to secure a common understanding of FORUT’s ideological basis.
  • Link fund raising to development education.
  • Promote FORUT in Norway.
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Peace and reconciliation

FORUT’s basis in the IOGT movement implies that working for peace is part of the ideological platform and organisational identity. With FORUT’s long experience from conflict-torn areas, we recognise the acute need for peace and reconciliation work. At the same time, we also acknowledge the complexity and depth of such conflicts and the limitations in our capacity to make noticeable impact. FORUT will work to involve competent resource persons if the situation allows for it. FORUT’s general approach will be to support meetings and dialogue between people on opposite sides of the conflict lines, to develop a peace and reconciliation culture within our own organisation and to encourage development of the same within our partner organisations. FORUT’s specific approach will be to organise interventions that explicitly aim to reduce conflict levels and to train in locally based conflict resolution.

  • Uphold a FORUT organisation and staff with competence and understanding of the dynamics of peace and reconciliation work. Encourage the same within partner organisations.
  • • Arrange intra-communal, cross-conflict meetings and dialogue.
  • • Arrange workshops in conflict resolution and reconciliation at local levels.
  • • Support local, national and international networks and initiatives to foster peace.
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All activities should be guided by the principle of upholding the human dignity of the people and groups who are partners in the process.
  • Mutual respect. For a partnership to work it is vital that the relationship is based on mutual respect. This indicates that we will strive to counterbalance the inequalities in a donor-recipient relationship. There should be a partnership where FORUT and the partner organisation are working towards common goals.
  • Democracy, transparency, and participation. For such a partnership to be healthy it is necessary to have transparency about intentions, modus operandi, organisational structure and priorities and possible alternative agendas. FORUT will establish partnership with organisations based on a participatory and democratic principle.
  • Clarity of roles, responsibilities and type of relationship are necessary guidelines to achieve a good working relationship with partners.
  • Building networks. FORUT will in addition to its working partners also strive to build a network of other NGOs, agencies, etc. with similar interest in development, alcohol and drugs, and other fields.
  • Principles for fundraising. FORUTs fundraising towards the public in Norway shall be guided by the principle of upholding the human dignity of the people and groups on whose behalf the funds are being raised. The information messages encapsulated in the fundraising activities should be based on factual knowledge and aimed at promoting tolerance, humanitarianism, open-mindedness, a sense of global responsibility and human rights.
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Mobilising local resources
A guiding principle in development activities is one of mobilising local resources, as opposed to a service delivery model.

We believe there is a potential for development everywhere. FORUT wants to be a starting motor, strengthening people’s faith in their own power and capabilities. We want to do this in respect of local knowledge.
  • Local resources increase the development impact of the intervention and secure sustainability.
  • Aid alone does not solve the problems, but starts a process.
  • Only the people themselves can genuinely achieve their own liberation and development.
  • Recipient responsibility is distinctly different from charity, prevents dependency of aid, creates ownership, has a greater chance for relevant interventions and facilitates adapting to a cultural context.
  • Development activities means working as a catalyst by releasing the inherent potential instead of coming in and doing the job.
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FORUT will only initiate new interventions and projects after a thorough analysis of the prospects for sustainability. We will be clear about what kind of sustainability should be achieved, and by which deadlines. In this analysis it is necessary to distinguish between the different types and aspects of sustainability:
  • Institutional sustainability – FORUT projects should contribute to capacity building and strengthening of the institutions involved.
  • Economic and financial sustainability - at the end of a project, communities and families should be able to maintain the improvements achieved without further financial input from FORUT.
  • Socio-cultural sustainability – FORUT projects should always take the local cultural setting into account, but also challenge it when necessary.
  • Environmental sustainability – FORUT projects should not be environmentally harmful.
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Gender awareness and sensitivity
In many cultures and societies there is an imbalance in power sharing and responsibilities between men and women. Women often lack access to decision-making processes, opportunities and resources. The workload within a family is in many cases unevenly distributed. Girls and boys may not be given the same opportunities and are treated unequally.

For the reasons listed above, it is of vital importance that all development initiatives are designed and executed in such a way that discriminating inequalities between the sexes are reduced and not reinforced. FORUT’s work should, accordingly, reflect sound gender awareness and be sensitive to gender-related issues that can obstruct or damage the development process.

FORUT will integrate the concern for women in most activities. This implies for example that for each intervention or project the consequences for women will have to be assessed. The assessment will be used to adjust the approach of the intervention.
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Human rights
FORUT’s vision is a world in peace and without poverty, where all are secured human rights and social justice. We adhere to the idea of human rights as being universal, inalienable and indivisible, founded on the belief that all human beings have a right to human dignity. In this sense the value of human dignity is the basis for all of FORUTs work.

We view the fulfillment of human rights both as a prerequisite for attaining peace and social justice, and as a final goal in itself. FORUT supports and works according to the principles of international conventions and legal frameworks on human rights.

In addition to the Human Rights Convention of 1948 these conventions are for example the UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, the UN Declaration on the Right to Development and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. These serve to legitimize our work as well as providing us with tools for empowering people. Through information and advocacy we will support civil society in general and vulnerable groups in particular in voicing their demands for human rights.

  • Inform and educate about human rights.
  • Support civil society in advocating for human rights in relation to authorities and decision makers.
  • Be part of networks promoting human rights, on national as well as regional and international levels.
  • Promote exchange of information and experience among our partners, especially in working for children’s rights, women’s rights and the rights of refugees.
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