Government newsletter, 29 March 2011
Sweden moves to support Libyan operations
Sweden will take its responsibility for peace and security when our fellow human beings are threatened, when the UN decides to act and when we have the ability to do so. If the Government gets the Riksdag's approval, Sweden will therefore contribute to the military operations to enforce the UN resolution to protect civilians in Libya, for a period of up to three months.
The popular protests against the regimes in Tunisia and Egypt earlier this year inspired the Libyan people in February to protest against corruption and a lack of freedom and to demand democracy and the resignation of Gaddafi. The protests spread rapidly. A transitional council was formed by representatives of the opposition and was supported by defected ministers and clan representatives.
When opposition forces critical of the regime later gained ground, Gaddafi's regime responded with a violent counter-offensive and a large number of people were reportedly killed as a result of the regime's violence against civilians. There is currently an internal armed conflict in Libya, between the Libyan regime and opposition forces critical of the regime
Responses by the international community
On 21 February 2011, the Council of the European Union condemned the violence against civilians in Libya. Five days later, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 1970, which included an arms embargo on Libya.
On 7 March, the Arab Gulf Cooperation Council urged the UN Security Council to protect civilian Libyans with a no-fly zone. In connection with an extraordinary EU summit on 11 March, the European Council stressed that Gaddafi must relinquish power and expressed its strong concern about attacks on civilians and about the difficult humanitarian situation in Libya. The following day, the Arab League called for the Security Council to immediately establish a no-fly zone and create safe havens to protect the Libyan people.
On 17 March, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 1973 which established that the situation in Libya was a threat to international peace and security, and demanded an immediate ceasefire and an end to the violence against civilians. UN member states were authorised to take all necessary measures and to establish a no-fly zone over Libya. The arms embargo was tightened. Member states were encouraged to assist with the implementation of these measures.
On 19 March, a meeting was held in Paris attended by the UN Secretary-General, the European Council President, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Arab League Secretary-General and a number of heads of state or government and foreign ministers. The meeting participants expressed their long-term commitment and strong will to implement Resolution 1973. With the support of the UN mandate, a coalition led by France, the United Kingdom and the United States began to strike military targets in Libya, in order to protect civilians.
At the regular EU summit on 25 March, the European Council emphasised that the EU would help to enforce Resolution 1973.
Strong support for military operations
In Security Council Resolution 1973, the United Nations has called on its member states to provide all necessary resources to protect civilians in Libya and to establish and maintain a no-fly zone over Libya. This decision enjoys strong support in the region and internationally, likewise in the EU.
On Sunday, NATO decided to take command of the entire military operation in Libya, under the UN Security Council resolution. The NATO operation is aimed at protecting civilians and areas with civilian populations that are under threat of attack. To do so, it must maintain the no-fly zone and arms embargo at sea with marine forces and air power.
Today (29 March), a formal request for Swedish assistance was received. It is now a matter for Sweden to move from words to action and do what we can to promote international peace and security.
The approval of the Riksdag is required for Swedish armed forces to be sent to another country. Therefore, the Government has today submitted a bill to the Riksdag on Swedish participation in the international military operation in Libya.
If the Riksdag approves the bill, Sweden will participate with up to eight JAS 39 Gripen aircraft, a Hercules plane and reconnaissance and support resources, in order to enforce the UN resolution to protect civilians in Libya. In addition, staff officers will be stationed with the relevant units. The operation is aimed at maintaining a no-fly zone over Libya, together with others. This means, in effect, that the Swedish contribution will not engage in combat operations against targets on the ground.
The Swedish contribution will amount to approximately 130 people. The force will be strengthened if necessary, however the Swedish contribution will not exceed 250 people all in all.
Sweden will continue to contribute humanitarian aid to Libya, in parallel with the military operation. Needs are great and it is important that relief gets through quickly, and that it is effective. Therefore, Sweden is contributing, through the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Sida, to those UN humanitarian organizations that are in place in Libya and at the country's borders, including the UNHCR (UN Refugee Agency), the FAO (UN Food and Agriculture Organization), the OCHA (UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs), UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund), and the WFP (World Food Programme).
In addition, Sweden contributes to other humanitarian organisations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Sweden has also made a Swedish Hercules plane available in Malta for the evacuation of distressed people on the Tunisian border. The plane has also been used to send medical supplies to Benghazi. Another Hercules plane has provided equipment for the establishment of offices for UN organisations in the refugee camps in Tunisia.
Conference in London
Today (29 March) the overall political coordination of the international community's efforts are being discussed at an international conference in London. Sweden is being represented by Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt.
Broad commitment to Libya is needed to promote democratic, economic and social development towards a constitutional state that respects human rights. The conference includes a discussion on how to guarantee this long term commitment from the international community.