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Speech by Margot Wallström at the OAS General Assembly


Speech by Margot Wallström at the meeting with the General Secretary and Permanent Observers. The Organization of American States' General Assembly 13 June 2016, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

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Mr Secretary General, fellow Ministers, Ambassadors and Delegates to the OAS,

I am honoured to be here today. I highly value this opportunity to follow the General Assembly of the OAS, and to meet with friends and partners from the Americas. I would like to thank Minister Navarro and the Dominican Republic for hosting this Assembly and giving us the opportunity to visit historic and beautiful Santo Domingo.


Sweden's relations with the Americas go back a long way in history. They are profound and encompass people, trade and shared values.

Sweden has long been active in development cooperation with many Latin American and Caribbean partners. We are proud of our longstanding partnership with the OAS.

The Americas today is a continent of peace. Democratic rule is well rooted, as is the rule of law. The region has made remarkable headway when it comes to sustainable social and economic development and empowerment including women's rights. The OAS has played, and continues to play, an instrumental role in all these areas.

Sweden will remain a partner. As an observer state and committed friend, Sweden believes that the OAS remains of great relevance. Through its support to demobilisation in Colombia, citizen security in Central America, electoral observer missions, and its human rights system.

Over the years, Sweden has channelled some USD 45 million to OAS' work in these areas. Recently, we have also contributed to the border mission between Guatemala and Belize, and mediation work between youth gangs in El Salvador. In a time of increased polarisation around the world, we need to rally around multilateralism as such.



There is a special affinity between Sweden and Latin America and the Caribbean. Sweden's solidarity with the region is inseparable from the history we share. Swedes have engaged, and still do engage, in solidarity work throughout the region – from Nicaragua and Uruguay to Chile and Colombia.

Many Latinos found a safe haven in Sweden during the difficult time of dictatorships and civil wars, and today they make up a vibrant community.

The Social Democrat-led Swedish Government that took office in 2014 has made it a top priority to revitalise and further enhance our relations with Latin America and the Caribbean.

We have travelled extensively in the region. I have had the honour of participating in the last two COFCOR meetings. Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and I have also been privileged to receive many of you and your leaders in Sweden.

From our conversations with you, we see a striking convergence of interests and great potential for deepened partnerships.

One area of interest is climate change. Sweden has taken a leading role on climate finance, being the largest per capita donor to the Green Climate Fund and other major climate funds.

And we are intent on overcoming the obstacles to accessing these funds – because those most in need should be first in line. Over the past year, we have consequently initiated a close dialogue with representatives from your countries to ease procedures and build national capacity to secure access.

Furthermore, we recognise the concerns of the Caribbean partners with respect to measures affecting your correspondent banking relations. A balance must be struck between ensuring compliance with international standards and ensuring access to financial services and financial inclusion.

This is important because we really need investment and trade to create growth – and social policies to make this growth inclusive. Within the EU, Sweden is pushing for free andfair trade relations with Latin America. We are also strengthening our bilateral cooperation with many Latin American partners, in areas such as higher education, research and sustainable technology.



Last year saw several milestones in the area of effective multilateralism. With the agreements concluded in Sendai, Addis Abeba, New York and Paris we have the tools to set our planet on a path towards sustainability. Sweden is committed to taking its share of responsibility to address the challenges we collectively face.

Our candidacy to the Security Council for the period 2017–2018 is part of this commitment. Our long history of multilateral engagement, peacekeeping contributions and development cooperation is proof that Sweden is a partner that delivers on its promises.

As demonstrated by our decision to recognise Palestine, we continue to be a voice of integrity and solidarity – in the spirit of Dag Hammarskjöld and Olof Palme. We are a small and militarily non-aligned country, without a colonial past, that relies on rules and fairness. We staunchly defend the Charter and its principles, and international law.

It is on this basis that we are respectfully seeking the confidence of our Latin American, Caribbean and North American partners to advance the agenda for peace, as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.

Thank you.