Sweden advanced priority issues during OSCE Chairpersonship

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Sweden’s term as OSCE Chair concludes at the end of the year. At a time of major security policy challenges, Sweden has worked during the year to increase the Organization’s relevance and advance Sweden’s priority issues – such as gender equality and climate change.

“It has been an active Chairpersonship during which we have been able to increase the Organization’s relevance, help resolve crises and conflicts, and advance the women, peace and security agenda. We also succeeded in achieving a breakthrough on the issue of climate change and how the OSCE now has a mandate to take action on climate change and security, and identify where climate change may lead to conflict,” says Minister for Foreign Affairs Ann Linde.

Carrying out the Chairpersonship has required intense diplomatic efforts and focus on the OSCE’s important principles and commitments for dealing with conflicts and preventing new ones from arising.

The Chairpersonship has taken action through visits, dialogue, agenda-setting in Vienna, conferences and seminars, and direct contact on various levels. Minister for Foreign Affairs Ann Linde has conducted more than 20 visits this year as Chairperson-in-Office, including to Ukraine, Russia, Moldova and the countries in the South Caucasus and Central Asia. She has visited all countries in which there are ongoing conflicts and has held meetings with all OSCE presences in the region. During all her visits, she has met with civil society representatives, including women’s organisations, to hear their views on the situation and to highlight the importance that Sweden as Chair attaches to civil society’s role.

Throughout the year, the Swedish Chairpersonship has promoted respect for OSCE principles and commitments, including democracy and human rights, which provide the foundation for sustainable peace and security. Examples of this are the Stockholm Media Freedom Conference, which resulted in recommendations for how the OSCE participating States can counter the undermining of confidence in the media, and the seminar on anti-Semitism held early this year. Sweden has also highlighted youth issues, not least through active work by the Chairperson-in-Office’s Special Representative on Youth and Security. By consistently addressing gender issues, Sweden has helped ensure that they remain on the agenda also after our term as Chair, including in the various OSCE missions and offices in the field and in the formats for conflict resolution. An expert advisory group appointed by Sweden will continue to support the OSCE on issues regarding women, peace and security.

“The Swedish Chair has left a lasting mark on the Organization, not least in the area of gender equality,” says Minister for Foreign Affairs Ann Linde.

Participants at the concluding Ministerial Council in Stockholm on 2–3 December included some 50 foreign ministers. This unusually high number of high-level participants is a testament to the importance of the OSCE and Sweden’s success in increasing the Organization’s relevance.

“I am proud that in 2021, Sweden has been able to stand up for our common security and our commitments in the OSCE – for stronger security policy cooperation at a challenging time,” says Minister for Foreign Affairs Ann Linde.