Swedish statement at the UN Security Council Briefing on Subsidiary Organs


National statement delivered by Ambassador Olof Skoog on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on Security Council Subsidiary Organs, 17 December 2018, New York.

Thank you so much, Mr. President.

I want to say a few words having led the 1970 sanctions Committee on Libya, the 2374 sanctions Committee on Mali, and the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict.

I will share some experiences of chairing these subsidiary bodies and provide some remarks on the general functioning – or not - of subsidiary organs and the role of the Chairs. I really want to play tribute to the Secretariat and SCAD first of all for the support that you’ve provided and the Panel of Experts many of you have mentioned.

Mr. President,

I want to say a few words about the Libya Committee first. That committee is very labor intensive, perhaps not as much as the 1718 committee, but still, it’s active and it operates in a politically complex environment. At times, political divisions inside the Security Council have made it difficult to agree on even quite minor issues I have to say. Despite those divisions we have tried to push forward enabling the Committee to be active and attuned to the political situation in Libya itself.

For example, the Committee listed several individuals for the first time since 2011 this year, inter alia for involvement in human trafficking, migrant smuggling, and attempts to illicitly export oil. We have adopted a separate listing criterion on sexual and gender based violence, a development we encourage Member States to continue to consider in the context of other sanctions regimes.

A third issue has been to adopt Implementation Assistance Notices in relation to the assets freeze, which we hope will facilitate effective implementation of the sanctions.

Fourthly, Mr. Chair, I want to say that in our national capacity we have listened very carefully to Libya’s concerns regarding the management of the frozen funds and this is a considerable amount of money. We have very actively pursued a way forward on this in discussions with other members of the sanctions Committee, Libyan representatives, the Libyan Investment Authority, and on the highest level in Tripoli, beginning with the President. I believe working with the World Bank is the best way forward on that particular issue. The people of Libya need to be satisfied that their funds are managed in the best way possible and we encourage Libya to continue engaging with the World Bank and the incoming Committee Chair.

Fifthly, despite great difficulty in reaching consensus, I led the first sanctions Committee visit to Libya since the inception of the sanctions regime in 2011. I thought it was a very useful trip and I have given some personal impressions from that trip in the Council. Regrettably we were not able to visit the eastern part of Libya as envisaged in the terms of reference, but I hope that the second leg of the trip can be realized soon.

Mr. President,

Exploitation of Libya’s resources for personal gains continues to do huge harm to Libya and to peace. Understanding these detrimental undercurrents is something that I recommend the Committee and other committees to look more closely into, in order to more effectively deal with it. How do war economies work, who benefits, and what can we do to go after those interests more forcefully?

Mr. President,

Turning to the Committee on Mali. The sanctions regime there was set up at the request of the Malian government. The aim of the sanctions is to advance peace, security and stability for the benefit of the Malian people, in support of national efforts, not least through the implementation of the peace agreement.

The Mali government has been very good in its cooperation with the committee, but so have the other signatories of the peace agreement. Engagement with the region has been another important component of our work, including through informal consultations with countries neighboring Mali.

I visited Mali just a few days ago and I just wanted to reflect on a few things there.

First of all, many actors, including the parties to the peace agreement, pointed to the positive impact of the sanctions regime in maintaining pressure to move forward in the implementation process. There was also a general awareness of the expectations of the Security Council, as put forward in our resolution 2423, including the evaluation of progress needed before March next year. There is, of course, a time when expectations and words must translate into concrete action if deadlines are not met.

There are some positive dynamics among the parties since the elections this summer and the signing of the Pact for Peace. At the same time, spoilers and violators of international humanitarian law need to be contended with and this momentum seems not to have been matched by concrete results. I want to say that we remain ready in our last few days of our term on the Council to consider listing individuals in accordance with the designation criteria.

I have also been the Chair of the Working Group of Children and Armed Conflict. I would like to thank countries for their support in the Working Group and in our efforts to try to work towards a more proactive chairmanship of that working group. But we are experiencing an utter disregard for international humanitarian law and human rights which has meant that there is an increase in violations and abuses against children in many conflicts around the world, and many agenda items in the Security Council’s work. This reality demands a strengthening, I believe, of engagement both in the field and in dialogue with states. UN efforts must also be reinforced on country-level to break this very negative trend.

The Working Group is now efficiently adopting country Conclusions within a one to two-month timeframe and making regular field visits focusing on countries ready to engage but where there is a need to push that engagement a little bit, such as we have seen in Sudan Darfur and in South Sudan most recently. I do see room for improvement with more engagement from all Council members and better follow-up and implementation by the Council as a whole, in a more determined and consistent manner, I have to say. I believe that these questions, children and armed conflict, are central to prevention and sustaining peace and they must go beyond the work of the Working Group. I want to come back to the Council later on, on some more extensive lessons learned and recommendations as you all move forward without Sweden on the Council.  

I think that the work that we have done in this working group with the civil society has been absolutely crucial as is so often the case on many other issues that are on the agenda of the Security Council.

Finally now, turning now to some general remarks about the working groups I want to say that I share very much if not all of what Karel, our Dutch colleague, has just said, as his recommendations on moving forward.

Sanctions can never be successful in isolation. They must always be part of a broader political strategy. Sanctions committees should not operate in a vacuum, disconnected from their political context. The Council needs to become better at discussing country-specific items and sanctions regimes together, and there should be closer interaction between chairs of sanctions committees and those who hold the pens for resolutions mandating sanctions, as the two are mutually reinforcing.

Chairing subsidiary organs is an important and demanding task that comes with great responsibility. Sanctions remains one of the most intrusive instruments available to the Security Council apart from the use of force and the sanctions committees are mandated with the important task of ensuring the effective use of that instrument, with direct effect for sanctioned individuals and entities.

Chairs should therefore enjoy greater trust and cooperation from all members of the Council. They have been appointed by the Council, and should be entrusted with a higher degree of independence, without being hamstrung or micromanaged in the discharge of their mandates. This holds true when it comes to travelling on behalf of their committees, communicating about their work, as well as interacting with the Security Council proper. The fact that that any committee decision, no matter how minor, must be taken by consensus, has in essence conferred the right of veto on all Security Council members. That said, of course, as we all know, in most cases, it is the permanent members who are blocking effective committee action.

Effective stewardship of subsidiary organs is a challenge and a responsibility which requires resources and extensive knowledge of the UN sanctions system.

Given the extent of this responsibility, Sweden, as just referred to by my Dutch colleague, has together with other Member States, have developed a Best Practices Guide for chairs and delegations of subsidiary organs to help incoming delegations prepare for this important task. This guide we hope will be published before the end of the year. As we are leaving we hope that this can provide a legacy for our colleagues and their delegations in trying to make the overall work of the Council, as it relates to sanctions, more effective efficient.

Thank you.


Lisa Laskaridis
Head of Press and Communication, Permanent Mission of Sweden to the UN
Phone +1 212 583 2543
Mobile +1 917 239 0941
email to Lisa Laskaridis