Erik Solheim (born 18 January 1955 in Oslo, Norway) is a Norwegian
diplomat and former politician, and the current Executive Director of
the United Nations Environment Programme.
Solheim was formerly a politician for the Socialist Left Party (SV);
he led its youth branch, the Socialist Youth, from 1977 to 1981, was
party secretary from 1981 to 1985, and served as a member of the
Norway from 1989 to 2001. He was leader of his party
from 1987 to 1997. During Solheim's tenure as party leader the party
moved closer to the centre and abandoned many former hard-left
stances. Within the party, Solheim was considered part of the right
wing, and his reforms made him strongly unpopular on the left wing of
his own party.
In 2000 Solheim left Norwegian politics to take up an appointment as a
special adviser in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs working as a
participant in the Norwegian delegation that unsuccessfully attempted
to resolve the
Sri Lankan Civil War
Sri Lankan Civil War before the outbreak of Eelam War
IV. Solheim returned to Norwegian politics in 2005 when he was
appointed Minister of International Development. In 2007 he
additionally became the Minister of the Environment, and he held both
offices until 2012.
After leaving the government in 2012, he returned to his previous
position as a special adviser in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and
from 2013 to 2016 Solheim was Chair of the
OECD Development Assistance
Committee in Paris, until he was appointed Executive Director of the
United Nations Environment Programme
United Nations Environment Programme in 2016. Since he left the
government, Solheim has sometimes made critical remarks about the
Socialist Left Party, and has refused to say whether he remains a
member. Solheim later expressed his support for the centrist Green
Party and was active as a strategic adviser for the party during the
2 Norwegian politics
3 International peace maker
3.1 2002 Truce in Sri Lanka
3.2 Post 2006 activities
3.2.1 2006 Peace talks
3.2.2 Government reaction
5 Work in intergovernmental organisations
6 Other activities
Solheim went to high school at
Oslo Cathedral School and after serving
conscription for the
Norwegian Air Force
Norwegian Air Force in
Bodø (1974–75) he
graduated from the University of
Oslo in 1980 with a cand.mag. degree
after studying history, sociology and political science. After 11
years in parliament he worked for five years for the Norwegian
Ministry of Foreign Affairs before being appointed Minister.
Solheim was the leader of Socialist Youth 1977–1980 and party
secretary of the Socialist Left Party 1981–1985. In 1987, he became
leader of the Socialist Left Party and rose quickly to become a
popular figure in Norwegian politics. In the 1989 election he was
elected to Parliament from
Sør-Trøndelag in what was to then SVs
best election, but was the following two elections (in 1993 and 1997
Solheim was elected from Oslo). He was controversial within his own
party because he was considered to be too right-wing. In 1997, after
ten years as party leader, he stepped down and was succeeded by
Kristin Halvorsen. Through the 1990s Solheim became one of the most
prominent figures in Norwegian politics, and lead his party through a
period of rising popularity. In later years he has received criticism
from some older party colleagues for moderating his views on the
European Union and becoming a supporter of Norway's membership in
Solheim was appointed Minister of International Development on 17
October 2005 as part of Stoltenberg's Second Cabinet, the first time
Solheim's party sat in the Cabinet. On 18 October 2007, he was also
appointed Minister of the Environment. He held both posts until 23
March 2012, when he was—against his own wish—moved by newly
appointed party leader Audun Lysbakken.
International peace maker
2002 Truce in Sri Lanka
Main articles: Sri Lankan civil war, LTTE, and Human Rights in Sri
From the spring of 2000 he was granted a leave of absence from
parliament to serve as special advisor to the Norwegian Ministry of
Foreign Affairs in Sri Lanka. He went on to become one of the most
recognizable figures in the peace negotiations between the Sri Lankan
government and the Tamil Tigers.
Solheim helped negotiate a truce in 2002. On 17 October 2005, he
continued his engagement with international affairs when he was
appointed Minister of International Development in the cabinet of
Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg. In this position, he was able to
continue his work on the
Sri Lanka issue.
Post 2006 activities
Solheim met with the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister and U.S.
Undersecretary of State, Nicholas Burns on 23 January 2006.
After meeting with the officials, Solheim told journalists in Colombo,
"Everyone is worried with the present deteriorating security
situation. It is hard to see the present situation continuing
Sri Lanka is at a crossroads."
After meeting with
Sri Lankan President
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse,
Undersecretary Burns expressed hope that "the
LTTE understands that it
will have no relations with my country, and for that matter any
effective relations with any country in the world, on the barrel of
President Rajapakse and Solheim met the day after. Solheim then went
north and met with Tamil Tiger rebel leader
Velupillai Prabhakaran and
rebel negotiator Anton Balasingham. Dumeetha Luthra of BBC News
said Solheim's visit is seen as crucial to saving the truce.
2006 Peace talks
Solheim announced on 12 September 2006, that the Government of Sri
Lanka and the
Tamil Tigers had agreed to hold "unconditional peace
talks" in October in Oslo, Norway.
BBC News officials that "Both parties have expressed
willingness to come back to the table. We expect the violence will be
stopped. The government has throughout its existence for 10 months
repeatedly told us that they are ready for talks without any
preconditions and the
LTTE has today confirmed that they are ready for
talks without any preconditions."
Keheliya Rambukwella, a spokesman for the Sri Lankan government,
acknowledged that the government was ready for talks, "but we did not
Oslo for unconditional peace talks." Officials from the
European Union, Japan,
Norway and the United States, meeting in
Belgium to discuss the conflict, released a statement in
support of the peace talks.
Government spokesman Rambukwella denied that the government agreed to
unconditional negotiations, saying, "We will put forward our
conditions." Rambukwella criticized the Norwegian government for
announcing the talks without consulting the Sri Lankan government,
"The government has not been consulted on any future discussions.
Norway, or anybody, can't announce dates and venues. We will take it
up very seriously. We are a sovereign state. They are only
facilitators. We have not delegated any of our powers to them."
The Sri Lankan Government's chief negotiator, Nimal Siripala De Silva,
filed an official complaint about Solheim's announcement to the press
Ambassador Hans Brattskar when they met, along with Sri
Lankan Foreign Secretary S. Palihakkara and Norwegian Embassy
spokesman Eric Nurnberg, at the Norwegian Foreign Ministry. Minister
De Silva said he hoped to discuss the "future role of the
international community in the Sri Lankan Peace Process and the future
course of action on the peace front" at this meeting. He also
expressed a desire for a "sincere commitment to the process from the
LTTE leader Prabakaran" to reporters.
His attempts of peacemaking were in the end unsuccessful, with the
Asian Tribune concluding that "his handling relationship with Sri
Lanka" was an "utter failure". In 2010, Minister of Foreign Affairs
Jonas Gahr Støre
Jonas Gahr Støre thus instead took control over the bilateral
Sri Lanka and Norway, with Eva Kristin Hansen
stating that "
Norway will ensure that Norway-
Sri Lanka relations are
brought back to the way they were." In January 2011 Erik Solheim
offered to play the role of a “dialogue partner” between the Sri
Lankan government and communities living in exile, possibly a
reference to the Tamil Diaspora or the
LTTE supporters who have formed
a government in exile.
In an interview with journalists Easwaran Rutnam and Jamila Najmuddin,
the Norwegian Minister of Environment, who has been often labeled in
Sri Lanka as being pro-LTTE, said that the recent Wikileaks reports on
him proved that he was not biased towards one party. Solheim also
rejected the idea of a separate State in
Sri Lanka and urged the Tamil
Diaspora to seek dialogue and work through democratic means to achieve
their goals. The
LTTE had recently created a government in exile, also
known as the Transnational government of Tamil Ealam which demands for
a separate State and obtained the support of the Tamil Diaspora
especially those living in Canada.
In an interview with the Sri Lankan Daily news, Colonel Karuna, a
LTTE regional commander and a current Sri Lankan member of
parliament, leveled claims of Norwegian support for the
LTTE and the
existence of an exchange of goods, including gifts such as TVs and
large sums of money existed between Solheim and
LTTE leadership. 
 Solheim has denied the aforementioned allegations made against
him and has complained that these accusations are the fabrications of
the media.  The
Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that
they are surprised about the "obvious lies about Mr. Solheim".
also stating that there is "no basis in reality" for the accusations.
In an open letter to the editor of the Sunday Times newspaper, in
reply to an article published on 15 April 2007, the Norwegian
Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Hans Brattskar also "categorically refuted
allegations made by a Norwegian national, who happened to be a
convicted murderer and his organization Norwegians Against Terrorism,
to the effect that
Norway has funded terrorism." also stating that
"Unfortunately, similar allegations based on the very same source,
have lately also been published and broadcast by other parts of the
Sri Lankan media." "Norwegians Against Terrorism" is a one-man
band led by convicted murderer Falk Rune Rovik. Rovik also
posted a video of
LTTE leadership visiting the Norwegian Special
Forces Training Camp in Rena, which showed the
instruction on their weapons, tactics and military strategies. The
content or authenticity of this video was never refuted by Solheim or
the Norwegian government.
In May 2011, the
Aftenposten stated that Norwegian Embassy personnel
Colombo have secretly aided
LTTE personal out of Sri Lanka. This
practice was defended by Erik Solheim, who stated that there is a long
Norway for helping people at risk.
Work in intergovernmental organisations
In January 2013,
Erik Solheim was appointed head of the OECD
Development Assistance Committee
Development Assistance Committee (DAC). He took over from Brian
Atwood who stepped down in December 2012. The DAC is an international
forum for bilateral providers of development co-operation. It aims to
promote development co-operation in order to contribute to sustainable
development. Solheim focussed on reform of official development
assistance, providing more support to the least developed countries.
He has also sought to blend development assistance with private
investment and better taxation systems in recipient countries.
In May 2016, it was announced that Solheim was appointed Executive
Director of the United Nations Environment Programme. He succeeded
Achim Steiner in that post in June 2016.
International Olympic Committee
International Olympic Committee (IOC), Member of the Sustainability
and Legacy Commission
Erik Solheim får toppjobb i FN ABC Nyheter". 2 May 2016.
Retrieved 27 June 2017.
^ a b "Solheim vil ikke svare på om han har forlatt SV".
Erik Solheim snakker ikke lenger med SV - Oslo".
^ Blom, Marianne Granheim Trøyflat, Ketil. "Uforlikt med AKP".
^ a b "Solheim, Erik ( 1955- )" (in Norwegian). Parliament of Norway.
Retrieved 23 March 2012.
^ "- Solheim ut av regjeringen".
Adresseavisen (in Norwegian).
Norwegian News Agency. 21 March 2012. Archived from the original on 23
March 2012. Retrieved 23 March 2012.
^ a b c d Envoy issues
Sri Lanka peace call BBC News
^ Sri Lanka,
Tamil Tigers agree to hold peace talks Todayonline[dead
^ Sri Lankan foes 'to talk peace' BBC News
Sri Lanka denies 'unconditional' talks with Tigers TamilNet
^ Co-Chairs announcement: Government complains Archived 30 September
2007 at the Wayback Machine. Daily News
^ Sri Lankan gov't calls for sincere rebel commitment for peace
People's Daily Online
Sri Lanka relations normalized:
Erik Solheim sidelined -
^  Archived 29 January 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
^  Archived 14 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
^  Archived 18 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
Norway dismisses allegations, BBCSinhala.com 18 April 2007
^ Ex-convict causing trouble,
Aftenposten 19 April 2007 Archived 11
September 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
^ "LankaWeb – Eric Solheim says he called the
Tamil Tigers to
Norway secretly helped
^ AS, TV 2. "
Erik Solheim får toppjobb i Paris".
^ "DAC Chair: Erik Solheim". OECD. Retrieved 2016-05-07.
^ "Secretary-General Announces Intention to Appoint
Erik Solheim of
Norway as Executive Director of the United Nations Environment
Programme". UNEP news centre. UNEP. 2016-05-03. Retrieved
^ Sustainability and Legacy Commission International Olympic Committee
Hilde Frafjord Johnson
Norwegian Minister of International Development
2005 - 2012
Norwegian Minister of the Environment
2007 - 2012
Bård Vegar Solhjell
Party political offices
Party Secretary of the Socialist Left Party
Party Leader of the Socialist Left Party
Socialist Left Party
Socialist People's Party
Red-Green Coalition (Stoltenberg's Second Cabinet)
Socialist Left Party national conventions
Stoltenberg's Second Cabinet
Dag Terje Andersen
Lars Peder Brekk
Bjarne Håkon Hanssen
Magnhild Meltveit Kleppa
Ola Borten Moe
Liv Signe Navarsete
Heidi Grande Røys
Karl Eirik Schjøtt-Pedersen
Bård Vegar Solhjell
Jonas Gahr Støre
Inga Marte Thorkildsen
Minister of International Development (Norway)
Minister of Climate and the Environment
Minister of Climate and the Environment (Norway)
ISNI: 0000 0000 2173 7184