Address by Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström at the Stockholm Forum on Peace and Development on 7–9 May
On behalf of the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, I am delighted to welcome you all to the Stockholm Forum on Peace and Development.
I would like to extend a special welcome to Somali Minister of Justice, Hassan Hussein Haji, and Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister, Adela Raz. We are very happy and grateful to have you with us, and to be able to benefit from your valuable knowledge and experience.
It is also a pleasure to see the familiar faces of our many bilateral, multilateral and civil society partners. Thank you for taking part in this event;
I also want to welcome my friend and colleague H.E. Miroslav Lajčák, President of the UN General Assembly. I would like to congratulate you on the very successful High-Level Meeting on Sustaining Peace in New York two weeks ago. Your leadership, together with the reform commitments of the UN General-Secretary António Guterres, is central to addressing the challenges facing the world today. We are looking forward to your keynote address and participation in the panel.
I would also like to thank the competent and professional staff of SIPRI for an important partnership in exploring the linkages between peace and development. We appreciate the thought leadership that you provide, and we look forward to important discussions over the next few days.
How do we make peace? This is a question as old as humanity itself. Philosophers, politicians and diplomats have asked this question for centuries, yet the answer still eludes us. Perhaps we have been asking the wrong question. Instead of asking how to make peace, we should focus on the building blocks for conflict prevention. That is why this forum is so important.
Together we have the tools. We have the knowledge. We have the will. We also have power to effect change, to change the direction the world is taking. There are many things that need to be done, and I would like to point out three.
First: Address the root causes of conflict
We need to take a serious look at the root causes and drivers of conflict. Economic and social inequality, corruption, gender inequality, lack of access to education and information, lack of respect for human rights, sexual and gender-based violence, cross-border armed groups, refugees, land rights, trade in arms, drugs and minerals, and climate change are some of the often interwoven internal and external causes of conflict.
Addressing root causes and how they affect the population differently creates conditions conductive to peace.
We need more conflict analysis – and with a gender perspective. I recently participated both in the Stockholm Forum for Gender Equality and the High-Level Meeting on Sustaining Peace in New York. It is clear to me that these agendas are interrelated. To address root causes we need to involve the entire the population.
We also need to build on positive experiences of peace and peacebuilding. We need to support research that identifies mechanisms that support peace. We need to work with civil society and local communities. We need to look at what binds communities and societies together. In short, we need to build on what works and seek to understand why it works.
Second: Take steps to create lasting peace.
Violent conflict erupts between communities or countries, or between leaders – not in a vacuum. Conflicts are supported or opposed by different members of communities, countries and parties. It is our duty as an international community to identify those who obstruct and those who support negotiations, peacebuilding and reconciliation, and to strengthen important actors.
Women's participation is essential to creating lasting peace. New research from European universities supports the idea of a robust relationship between women signatories and the durability of peace. Peace agreements signed by women have a significantly higher rate of success after 10 years, and researchers argue that interaction between women civil society groups and women signatories contributes to better agreements. This, in turn, contributes to longer-lasting peace. Then there is the obvious: making up half of the population, women should be involved in peacebuilding.
I will continue to promote and support inclusive peace processes, through women's mediation networks, support to civil society, international political advocacy, and by promoting the incorporation of a gender perspective.
Third: Use diplomacy.
Sweden is a small country. But small countries can make a big impact. It is important to speak out and stand up for what we believe in. We need to speak with each other instead of at or about each other. To foster conversations – and real listening.
We were proud to host the UN Security Council at Dag Hammarskjöld's farm, Backåkra, in April. We believe that meeting outside our usual meeting rooms brings about new ways of thinking, speaking and interacting.
Or as Dag Hammarskjöld himself put it: "The silence breaks through the armour of the mind."
That is why this SIPRI Forum is so important. A place where women and men of all ages can meet across sectors, experience and agendas.
On behalf of the Swedish Government, I wish you forward-looking discussions, interesting panels and enjoyable coffee breaks.