Sweden’s involvement in the UN

The United Nations was founded in 1945 and Sweden became a member of the organisation the following year. Since then, active involvement in the UN has been a natural part of Swedish foreign policy. Sweden is one of the largest donors to the UN, and one of the few countries that meets the UN development assistance target of 0.7 per cent of GNI.

Sweden's involvement in the UN includes contributing staff to UN peace support operations. Another goal is to strengthen the UN's institutional capacity. For the UN and its Member States to effectively meet challenges facing the international community, it is important to continuously develop the structures, strategies and methods of the organisation. Sweden therefore contributes actively to ongoing reform discussions and processes in the UN system. The reforms aim to strengthen the UN's peace support and peacebuilding operations, and create a UN that is better equipped for the work necessary to achieve the 2030 Agenda's Sustainable Development Goals.

In addition to contributing staff and institutional support to the UN, Sweden also strives to promote international norms and conventions. Sweden was among the initiators behind strengthening women's and children's rights, the Convention against Torture, and the abolition of the death penalty and of apartheid. Areas such as international humanitarian law, humanitarian principles, disarmament, the environment, the fight against drugs and antiterrorism efforts are also important priorities for Sweden's UN policy.

Sweden's involvement in the UN's various areas of activity is also the basis of Sweden's membership of the UN Security Council for the 2017–2018 term. The UN Security Council has a unique responsibility for international peace and security, and by being a responsible, prepared and principled member, Sweden helps uphold the fundamental UN concept of cooperation for peace and security. Sweden's work in the Security Council policy is firmly rooted in international law, human rights, gender equality and a humanitarian perspective. Sweden is working for more active prevention of armed conflicts, to strengthen women's voices and to prevent deadlocks in the Security Council. Sweden has been a non-permanent member of the Security Council on three previous occasions: 1957–58, 1975–76 and 1997–98.

Joint efforts

The challenges facing the world today are complex and often extend across national borders. Multilateral cooperation is necessary in order to find sustainable solutions to these challenges. Although the UN plays a key role in coordination and legitimacy in international cooperation, the organisation is dependent on the continuous commitment of the Member States if it is to act flexibly and effectively. Sweden therefore actively contributes to help develop and strengthen UN capacity and instruments for maintaining international peace and security.

In addition to a strong UN, joint efforts are also needed with regional and sub-regional organisations to prevent conflicts and other security challenges, and to settle them by peaceful means. This cooperation is also essential to help tackle unforeseen global events from different angles in an effective and coordinated way, as with the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014.

The European Union (EU) is one of the UN's most important partners. Both the UN and the EU have core values based on the promotion of human rights, humanitarian principles, international humanitarian law, democracy, the rule of law and sustainable development. Within the framework of joint work for peace and security, the UN and the EU have made great progress in recent years. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in Liberia, the EU has responded rapidly and effectively to the UN's need for civilian and military capacity. In the Balkans, the EU has taken over command of several UN-led operations. In the Central African Republic, the EU has supported the conversion of an African Union (AU) operation into a UN mission, and in Mali, the EU's own operation supports the UN peacekeeping mission. A new agreement between the UN and the EU will establish a number of thematic and strategic areas in peace and security where intensified cooperation can produce more effective results.

The UN also endeavours to strengthen its cooperation with the AU, whose goal is to contribute to peace, security and stability in Africa. The AU does not have any military forces of its own and is therefore dependent for its operations on the support of its members and the international community. Sweden is involved in strengthening the AU and its cooperation with the UN, both by supporting capacity-building efforts and participating in international and regional peace support operations.

Other regional and sub-regional organisations also receive support from Sweden, either directly or via the UN. In this way, Sweden contributes to making the organisations better at promoting peace, security and development in their own neighbourhoods.

Swedes in the UN

A number of Swedes have served the UN in various capacities.

At senior level, in 2018 Åsa Regnér was appointed as Assistant Secretary-General of the UN and Deputy Executive Director of UN Women, Ulrika Modéer as Assistant Secretary-General of the UN and Director of the Bureau for External Relations and Advocacy at the UN Development Programme (UNDP), and Charlotte Salford as Associate Vice-President and head of the External Relations and Governance Department at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). In 2017, Gunilla Carlsson was appointed as Assistant Secretary-General of the UN and Deputy Executive Director for Management and Governance of UNAIDS, the UN programme to combat HIV/AIDS. Since 2016, Per Lodin has been Head of Mission of the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP).

Dag Hammarskjöld (1905–1961) was the second Secretary-General of the UN in 1953–1961. Jan Eliasson was Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations in 2012–2016.

Folke Bernadotte (1895–1948) was the UN's first mediator. Several other Swedes have subsequently served as mediators, including Gunnar Jarring, Olof Rydbeck, Olof Palme and Jan Eliasson. In addition, many other Swedes have served at different levels within the UN system.