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Ongoing session of the UN Human Rights Committee. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

UN Human Rights Committee concludes its session in New York

The 104th session of the UN Human Rights Committee, which has been under way in New York from 12-30 March 2012, will conclude tomorrow. The Human Rights Committee is one of the UN convention bodies, and is tasked with monitoring whether countries comply with their commitments under the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Gustaf Lind is Sweden's Arctic Ambassador and currently the Chair of the Arctic Council. Photo: Hanna Björnfors/MFA

Arctic Council negotiations in Stockholm

Today, during Stockholm Polar Week, the Arctic Council meeting opened with nearly to 180 representatives from the member states, indigenous peoples and working groups present. Sweden is currently the Chair of the Arctic Council, and is hosting the meeting held at the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm. During today's session, the council decided to adopt the proposed communication strategy that has been developed by the Swedish Chairmanship.

Carl Bildt travels to Beirut for political discussions

Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt will visit Lebanon on 28 March. Mr Bildt will meet Prime Minister Najib Mikati and UN representatives. Topics of discussion will include how Lebanon and the region are affected by the situation in Syria.

Gunilla Carlsson at the press conference. Photo: Jenny Häggmark/MFA

Gunilla Carlsson held press conference on humanitarian situation in Syria

Yesterday, 26 March, Minister for International Development Cooperation Gunilla Carlsson called a press conference on the humanitarian situation in Syria. At the end of last week, Ms Carlsson visited Turkey, where she met representatives of the Syrian opposition in Istanbul. The situation in Syria continues to deteriorate and there are major humanitarian needs in several areas. During the press conference, Ms Carlsson talked about Swedish involvement in the region.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt arrives at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, to attend the Nuclear Security Summit. Photo: Yonhap/NSS

Swedish plutonium to United States for final disposal

Swedish plutonium has recently been transported to the United States for final disposal. The material will be taken care of in the framework of the US non-proliferation programme Global Threat Reduction. The partners in the programme include the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and countries such as the US, the UK and Russia. A total of just over three kilogrammes of reprocessed plutonium is involved.

The UN Human Rights Council. Photo: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

Summary from the 19th session of the UN Human Rights Council

The 19th session of the UN Human Rights Council, which has been assembled for four weeks since 27 February, ended on friday. The agenda has covered many highly topical issues regarding human rights around the world.

Gunilla Carlsson with Turkey's EU minister Egemen Bagis. Photo: Ann-Sofie Nilsson/MFA

Gunilla Carlsson speaks at Istanbul Bilgi University

Minister for International Development Cooperation Gunilla Carlsson concluded her three-day visit to Turkey Friday March 23. On Thursday, Ms Carlsson made a public appearance at Istanbul Bilgi University with Turkish Minister for European Affairs Egemen Bagis. Ms Carlsson gave an address on the opportunities and challenges associated with Turkish EU membership. She also took part in the Global Human Development Forum, where she spoke about innovative financing for a sustainable future.

Afghanistan, Asia and diplomacy of the future

At the weekend, Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt took part in the annual Brussels Forum. On Saturday, Mr Bildt discussed developments in Afghanistan and shared his impressions from his visit there last week.
"Right now, security issues tend to be the focal point. They are important, but it is equally important to focus on long-term political and economic development and on the future beyond 2014," said Mr Bildt in a panel debate with Afghanistan's deputy national security adviser Shaida Abdali and United States Special Envoy to Afghanistan Marc Grossman.

At the Brussels Forum, Mr Bildt also spoke with the participants at the Young Professionals Summit about diplomacy of the future and new opportunities offered by technology, and took part in a panel discussion on the consequences of Asia's increasingly prominent role on the world stage.

Sweden halts aid to Mali

"As a result of the developments in Mali, Sweden will be freezing bilateral development cooperation with the Government of Mali and its authorities and agencies. Undemocratic seizure of power can never be accepted," says Minister for International Development Cooperation Gunilla Carlsson.

Swedish development assistance to Mali in 2012 amounts to SEK 257 million but, although agreed, SEK 254 million has not yet been paid out. Budget support accounts for half of development assistance to the country. The most important sectors are democracy and human rights, the environment, and agricultural and forestry.

Raoul Wallenberg exhibition reaches New York

The exhibition "To me there's no other choice: Raoul Wallenberg 1912-2012" opened at Scandinavia House in New York on Thursday 15 March. Launched in Budapest in January this year, it has now reached New York en route to Washington DC where it will open on 19 April in conjunction with a ceremony at the US Congress.