Speech by Margot Wallström at the Meeting of the Small Group of the Global Coalition against Daesh

Meeting of the Small Group of the Global Coalition against Daesh, Rome, 2 February 2016.
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Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me begin by thanking Italy for hosting this important meeting and the United States for its leadership in countering Daesh.

Dear Colleagues,

Our starting point must be a human one – how to end the suffering of men, women and children. The situation in the city of Madaya makes clear what must be our absolute focus: to do all we can to alleviate the suffering of the people. There must be an end to the indiscriminate attacks on civilians and humanitarian access must be granted.

More needs to be done to meet the immense humanitarian needs in the region.

Sweden has received more than 130 000 Syrian asylum seekers since 2011, and over 20 000 from Iraq in the past year alone. We can only imagine the pain of having no choice but to leave your home in order to save yourself and your family.

Since 2011, Sweden has provided more than USD 350 million in humanitarian aid to Iraq and Syria.

Today, I am announcing an additional USD 12 million in humanitarian support to Iraq, to complement our recent USD 4 million contribution to the UNDP Stabilisation Fund and our military training component in northern Iraq.

In Syria, Sweden has provided USD 8.4 million to the Syria Recovery Trust Fund to be used for the stabilisation efforts in Syria.

This year, Sweden is significantly stepping up aid to alleviate the Syria crisis. At the upcoming donors conference in London, my Prime Minister will announce Sweden's new strategy for the Syria crisis to bridge the gap between humanitarian aid and long-term development. The strategy takes a unique, innovative, regional, five-year approach to the Syria crisis.

Dear Colleagues,

We all know that a political solution must be found to the conflicts.

Durable solutions need to rest on political settlements.

The role of the UN is key.

We are at a crucial stage for the political process for Syria. Yet events on the ground continue to undermine diplomatic efforts.

In Iraq, military and stabilisation efforts must be underpinned by an inclusive political process of national reconciliation, and Prime Minister al-Abadi has taken bold steps in this direction.

In Libya, too, a political solution is critical to ending the conflict and the expansion of extremist movements.

It is clear that our actions in the Coalition must be complemented by intensified efforts on the political track for Syria and for more inclusive governance in Iraq.

I commend the efforts to date by the Coalition in its mission to fight Daesh and provide long-term stability to the region. Sweden's commitment is long-term.

But what more needs to be done?

I would like to raise three points where I believe we should have a more in-depth discussion and act more forcefully.

1) Firstly: What more can we do to counter the financing of Daesh? Funding is critical to its activities. We already know that Daesh is financing its barbarity through bank looting, extortion, control of oil fields and refineries, theft of economic assets and trafficking. We must push for immediate action, through the UN Security Council, the European Union and through cooperation in this Coalition, and other international forums, to stop Daesh's sources of financing.

2) Secondly: What more can we do to counter extremist propaganda?

3) Thirdly: What more can we do to ensure that women are included in the political processes and peace negotiations? In order to secure peace, women and men must be included in efforts to rebuild society. Sweden is facilitating the participation of Syrian women in the talks in Geneva and we are currently providing support to the women negotiators through training in negotiations and external communication.

Mr Prime Minister, Colleagues,

Civilian and military efforts must go hand-in-hand. Military means alone will not give us a solution. Sweden welcomes the proposal to enhance civilian-military cooperation in the Coalition.

As areas are liberated from Daesh, we should consider strengthening civilian and stabilisation capacities to foster four important Rs: resilience, returns, reconciliation and reforms. Sweden believes that the EU – through our long-term perspective on stabilisation – could play a greater role by making use of its crisis management and other tools.

Before ending, I would like to stress that Sweden is concerned by the recent reports on forced displacement and deliberate destruction of civilian homes and property by security forces on the ground. As military contributors to the fight against Daesh, we have a joint responsibility to ensure that such support does not contribute to violations of international humanitarian law and human rights.

Thank you.