Norway has been a member of the UN since 27 November 1945; the country participates in the ECE and all the nonregional specialized agencies. Norwegian experts serve in many countries under the UN Technical Assistance program, and Norwegian specialists served with UN forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (previously Zaire). Norway has participated in 30 UN peacekeeping operations. The Norwegian Peace Corps, launched as an experiment in 1963, was made a permanent part of Norway's program of international aid in 1965.
Norway is a member of the Council of Europe, EFTA, NATO, the Nordic Council, and OECD, a signatory of the Law of the Sea, and a member of the WTO.
In September 1972, a referendum on EU membership was rejected by nearly 54% of the electorate. In May 1973, however, the Norwegian government signed a Special Relations Agreement with the EU and the European Coal and Steel Community, providing for free trade in industrial products between Norway and EU members. Another referendum on EU membership was held in November 1994; 52% of the electorate voted against membership.