Here is a general description of who is responsible for what in national crises.
Work with civil protection and preparedness is based on four principles. These principles apply to everyone, even in the current crisis.
- The principle of responsibility means that one has responsibility for civil protection for the areas one is normally responsible for.
- The principle of equality means that in a crisis, one should be organized as similarly as possible to the normal organization.
- The principle of proximity means that crises must be managed at the lowest possible level.
- The principle of collaboration means that everyone with responsibility should contribute to ensuring the best possible cooperation for prevention, emergency preparedness and crisis management.
Municipalities have a critical role in civil protection and a broad responsibility for preventing and managing crises. They are independent legal entities with legal responsibility for their actions and omissions. The municipalities are not under the instruction of the state or others, and can only be directed pursuant to the law.
By virtue of municipal self-government, each municipality has the freedom to implement measures independently, as long as these are not prohibited or exclusively reserved to others in law.
The Municipalities Act and the Infection Protection Act are two important laws that regulate municipalities’ ability to deal with the current crisis. The Infection Protection Act gives municipalities the authority to take drastic measures that affect individuals.
As local authorities with professional competence, municipalities have – among other things – responsibility for civil protection within:
- Health and care (the Health Preparedness Act, the Infection Protection Act, the Radiation Protection Act, the Public Health Act, the Health and Care Services Act)
- Social services (the Social Services Act and the Health Preparedness Act)
- Fire and Rescue Service (Fire and Explosion Protection Act)
- Acute pollution (Pollution Act)
- Planning and Land Management (Planning and Building Act)
- Port management (Port Act)
- Civil Defence (Civil Protection Act)
- Following-up of measures in the civil preparedness system
- Assistance to the business sector in terms of emergency preparedness (Business Preparedness Act)
There are also requirements for civil protection with respect to services and functions where the municipality is the owner. These can be, for example:
- Schools and kindergartens (Public Health Act, Regulations on environmentally sound health protection in schools and kindergartens, etc. and Circular on preparedness relating to serious accidents in schools and kindergartens)
- Water works (the Health Preparedness Act, the Public Health Act and the Drinking water regulations)
In addition, many municipalities impose safety and emergency preparedness requirements on organizers of various events within, for example, culture and sports.
The municipality should also be a driving force upon other actors within civil protection. For these organizations, certain requirements for preparedness are found in their own professional regulations or are based on their own administrative responsibilities.
In order to gather all civil protection actors in the municipality, it is recommended that municipal emergency preparedness committees are established. Many municipalities have already established such emergency committees.
Under the so-called Coronavirus Law, the Government was granted extended power to supplement or derogate from certain specified laws, including the Local Government Act, for a limited period of time. The law states that the extended power shall not be used in contravention to the Constitution. Section 49 of the Constitution specifies that local democracy is regulated by law. It also states that the Government cannot apply the extended power in such a way that local self-government loses its significance in a time of crisis.
Counties are regional authorities with professional competence. They are responsible for securing transport and energy infrastructure and managing marine resources and the environment. Other key tasks are upper-secondary education, culture and dental health. The counties are also responsible for contributing to ensuring emergency preparedness under the Business Preparedness Act.
In the same way as the municipalities, the counties are independent legal entities and have autonomy.
KS (Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities) is a member organization for all municipalities and counties in Norway.
Its statutes stipulate that KS is an employer and special interest organization. Together with its members, KS works to develop an efficient, creative and independent municipal sector.
Through advising municipalities and counties and safeguarding the municipal sector's interest, KS contributes to the civil protection throughout the country. Life is lived locally.
As an employer organization, KS is responsible for ensuring that all municipalities and counties in the country - with the exception of the Oslo - comply with their obligations under the Main Tariff Agreement and the Main Agreement. In such questions, KS is given instructional authority over the municipalities and counties. This follows from the Local Government Act and the articles of association for the employers’ activities.
Management of the tariff area is a major factor in preventing and managing crises. Here KS has a special responsibility, together with the parties on the employee side. The parties have autonomy over their own agreements. The state has no right to instruct KS and can only intervene in the agreements through legislation.
The Government is collectively responsible for the state's responsibility for civil protection. The constitutional responsibility each minister has to the Storting (Norwegian Parliament) does not exempt the Government from its collective responsibility.
- The Ministry of Justice has the coordinating responsibility for civil protection.
- The Armed Forces are responsible for ensuring civil protection through military means.
- The Civil Defence is responsible for protecting civil society.
The County Governors have a coordinating responsibility and will contribute to the best possible cooperation between different actors. This means that each County Governor is responsible for preparing their own risk and vulnerability analysis, coordinating the requirements and guidelines of central authorities and keeping central authorities informed about civil protection work in the county.
Private businesses can have self-protection measures imposed upon them. The private sector can also be required to devote resources to the protection of civil society.
The voluntary organizations
There are many different voluntary organizations, secular and religious, all of which can contribute in their fields of interest to the protection of civil society and dealing with crises.
Individuals who own real estate may be subject to self-protection measures. Individuals may also be required by the Civil Protection Act to divest real estate and other resources for the protection of civil society.