Speech by Prime Minister Stefan Löfven in the UN Security Council


New York, 20 September 2017

Check against delivery.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you, Prime Minister Hailemariam, for inviting us to this important event.
Thank you, Secretary General Guterres for your leadership,
including your inspirational intervention at the General Assembly yesterday,
and here this morning.

Few things inspire me more than the energy and enthusiasm,
knowledge, will and determination of our younger generations.
Zaida Catalán, a Swedish UN expert, had all of that.
She dedicated her life to helping others.
Earlier this year, at the age of 35,
she and a fellow expert were killed while on a UN mission
to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Women and men from countries all over the world
have made many sacrifices in the line of UN duty.
Some have lost their lives.

I would like to take this opportunity, here in the Security Council,
to honour Zaida's memory
and the memory of all those who have lost
their lives in the service of peace
and offer our deepest sympathies to their families.

Ladies and gentlemen,
The adoption of the 2030 Agenda
and our pledge to leave no one behind
illustrates the potential of multilateral cooperation.
The joint resolutions on Sustaining Peace
adopted both by this Council and by the General Assembly,
compel us to prevent and address violent conflict.
These commitments must guide our work.

We must do all that is within our power
to prevent outbreaks of violence, mass atrocities
and armed conflict;
to ensure that refugees do not risk their lives
making unsafe journeys;
to ensure that the current levels of humanitarian suffering
– the worst humanitarian crisis since the creation of the United Nations – are never experienced again.

Because, only people who feel safe and secure will have faith in the future and contribute to the advancement of their societies.
Now more than ever we need to come together for a peaceful and sustainable development – instead of going at it alone and increasing tensions and divisions .

Identifying, addressing and preventing the risk of conflict
must be front and centre of all our efforts.

Ladies and gentlemen,
For seven decades UN peacekeeping has been instrumental
to promoting peace and providing
the conditions necessary for political solutions.

We need the political will, courage and ability to adapt peacekeeping, so that it can remain relevant
and adequately resourced, and serve as a means
to support political processes and solutions.

Because achieving and sustaining peace will always require
political solutions, no matter how effective
our missions are in themselves.

Let me mention three dimensions that I believe need to underpin
UN peacekeeping in the 21st century:

First, we must address emerging threats
and tackle the root causes of conflict.
Drivers of conflicts are often transboundary and complex.

Many of the crises the world is facing have come about,
not because we failed to see them coming
– the signs of exclusion, marginalization, human rights violations and political, social and economic inequality were there –
but because we failed to respond early enough or quickly enough. However, prevention means that not only
must we choose to heed the warnings when they come
but that we must invest in peaceful societies
to avoid the drivers of conflict emerging in the first place.
We must address the toughest issues and find responses that may need to be unique to each setting, yet broad in scope.

A renewed focus on preventing violent conflict and sustaining peace are the expressed priorities of the UN Secretary-General
[as we have just heard him say].
We, the Security Council, should whole-heartedly
support him in this endeavour.

And let us recognise the role of peacekeeping also in this regard.
More than 118 000 military, police and civilian personnel
are currently serving in 16 peacekeeping operations –
blue berets and helmets from Haiti in the west,
to Jammu and Kashmir in the east.
We thank the women and men in peacekeeping missions,
for the work they do every day on our behalf.

Peacekeeping and prevention can, should and must
go hand in hand.

Secondly, we need stronger partnerships.
Combining the UN's efforts for peace with those of regional
and sub-regional organisations is crucial for success.

The partnership between the UN and the African Union
is of particular importance.
I commend the new partnership framework signed earlier this year.
The African Union and its member states
are assuming an ever greater responsibility for peace and security.
If we want this partnership to achieve its full potential,
we must ensure sustainable and predictable financing,
as well as clear and clever cooperation on the ground.

I would also like to highlight the importance of the European Union
as a committed and contributing partner to the UN.
The Treaty on European Union enshrines
the core principles of the UN Charter.
I hope that the partnership between the EU and the UN can be developed even further, as well as the trilateral relationship between the EU, the AU and the UN.

Thirdly, UN Peacekeeping should evolve
based on evidence and lessons learned.
The experience we gain from our contributions
can help to improve and develop UN missions,
to make them fit for purpose.

Seventy years of peacekeeping has taught us about the need
for the full, equal and active participation of women.
Sweden constantly seeks to increase
the number of women taking part.

We have learnt about the need for
realistic, flexible and properly sequenced mandates.
The UN system is at its best when it works together as one,
in countries in conflict,
using every tool available to ensure lasting peace.

With Sweden's largest current force contribution
to MINUSMA in Mali,
we are seeking to develop the toolbox by focusing on intelligence.
Intelligence and information are key
to protecting UN peacekeepers and civilians alike,
and to underpin informed and strategic decisions.

We are learning to work smartly and to pool our resources.
And we have painfully learned that peacekeepers
must do all they can to protect civilians under imminent threat
and that there must be nothing but full adherence
to the UN's zero tolerance policy
with respect to sexual exploitation and abuse.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Since 1948, more than 80 000 Swedish women and men
– troops, police and civilians – have participated
in UN peace operations, primarily in Africa.
They have worn their UN helmets in deserts, dirt, dust – and danger. We see their blue berets in Cyprus as well as in the Congo.
It has come at a price.
Yet our commitment to peacekeeping will not falter.
It is not weakened by the tragic loss of Zaida Catalán
and too many others.

Rather, we owe it to them,
and to humankind to succeed.

I would like to close, with the words
of former UN Secretary-General,
Dag Hammarskjöld, another great person who lost his life
while serving us, the United Nations. He said:
"Only they who keep their eyes fixed on the far horizon,
will find the right road."

We all know the right road to take.
As national leaders, and members of this Council,
we must choose peace,
invest in peace
and deliver peace.

Thank you.