During today's vote at the UN General Assembly in New York, Sweden will vote in favour of the draft resolution that clearly supports a two-state solution and gives Palestine non-member observer state status. Intensive diplomatic efforts have led up to today's vote. Sweden's approach throughout has been to strive for unity within the EU, but to vote in favour of the resolution if such a consensus was not possible to achieve.
A study conducted by the World Bank showed that for women and girls aged 16-44, gender-based violence causes more harm than cancer, traffic accidents, war and malaria. The problem is particularly serious in countries that are, or have been, in conflict, and constitutes one of the main obstacles to development and peace.
In December 1999, the UN decided to designate 25 November as the annual International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
On 22 November the Ministry for Foreign Affairs will host a worldwide book club - Storytellers of Sweden. During the course of an entire day various literary activities will be arranged, such as panel debates and readings by more than 20 Swedish authors, including PO Enqvist, Majgull Axelsson and Camilla Läckberg. The event will be conducted in English and webcast on www.government.se/storytellers making it an opportunity for the attending authors and readers in nations around the globe to discuss Swedish literature. Readers are invited to take part by submitting questions on Twitter or via text message.
Joint discussions for EU defence and foreign ministers
Both foreign ministers and defence ministers will meet in the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels on 19 November. The foreign ministers intend to focus on developments in the Southern Neighbourhood and the situation in Ukraine. The joint discussion with defence ministers is expected to centre on the crisis in Mali and preparations ahead of the meeting of the European Council in December 2013.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt is visiting Egypt from 13 to 15 November to take part in an EU-Arab League foreign ministers meeting and a meeting of the EU-Egypt Task Force. During his visit to Egypt, Mr Bildt will raise issues such as economic development and internet freedom, major enabling factors in the country's democratic development. The situation in Syria will also be discussed.
Mr Bildt will answer questions via Twitter on Thursday 15 November, 13.45-14.00.
On 14 and 15 November Senior Arctic Officials, representatives of the Arctic Council's Member States, Working groups, Observers and organisations for Indigenous peoples will meet in Haparanda. Sweden holds the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council until May next year. The focus over the coming months will be to bring the Chairmanship's and the Arctic Council's priorities to a successful conclusion before handing over the Chairmanship to Canada.
Neighbourly relations and defence cooperation with Poland
On 13 November, Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt and Minister for Defence Karin Enström met their Polish counterparts RadosBaw Sikorski and Tomasz Siemoniak. The four ministers discussed a range of issues - from the development of bilateral relations and defence cooperation to current EU issues such as relations with Ukraine and the other countries in the Eastern Partnership.
"This meeting is the first in this format and is an expression of the close cooperation that has grown between us. Poland is a close neighbouring country and one of our most important cooperation partners," says Mr Bildt.
The UN General Assembly today elected 18 new members to the Human Rights Council. With the support of the Nordic countries, Sweden was a candidate for one of the three seats primarily reserved for western European countries. The three seats in the group went to the United States, Germany and Ireland.
- Sweden will continue to be an active observer in the Human Rights Council and a clear voice for human rights in the world, says Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt.
Increased UN support for internet freedom and security
On Tuesday, the UN General Assembly's First Committee conducted its annual consideration of the UN resolution on information technology, telecommunications and international security introduced by the Russian Federation in 1998. During the consideration, Sweden, with the support of some 30 countries, gave an explanation of vote in order to incorporate the internet freedom perspective. The explanation of vote emphasised that international law, including human rights, also applies online. It also stressed that issues concerning the future development of the internet should be based on a multi-stakeholder model that also includes business and civil society representatives.
In various international forums where internet issues are discussed, Sweden is one of the countries that most strongly drives the efforts for internet freedom. At last year's consideration of the UN resolution, Sweden also gave an explanation of vote, gaining the support of around ten countries.
The ninth Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM 9) Summit started on Monday in Vientiane, Laos. Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl is present at the forum for informal dialogue between the EU Member States, Norway, Switzerland and 22 Asian countries. The ASEM Summit provides an opportunity for Asian and European leaders to discuss global political trends and economic challenges.
"Sweden raised the issue of internet freedom and security. Internet freedom is receiving increasing attention and becoming a topic of discussion in a number of Asian countries. That's why we believe it is important to put these issues on the agenda," says Mr Bildt from the Summit in Laos.