Statement by Sweden at the UN Security Council Briefing on Sanctions


National Statement delivered by Ambassador Carl Skau on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on general issues concerning sanctions: evaluation of sanctions regimes, Thursday, 3 August 2017, New York.

Mr. President,

I would also like to thank Egypt for organizing today's briefing on this important topic and ASG Zerihoun for his valuable presentation this morning.

In the mid-1980s, Sweden introduced economic sanctions against the apartheid regime of South Africa. These sanctions were essentially unilateral in nature, but with strong political symbolism. Since then, Sweden has been engaged in processes aimed at making sanctions more effective and transparent, including, most recently, in the High Level Review of United Nations Sanctions. Existing efforts, such as the High Level Review with its 150 recommendations, remain highly relevant and should be followed-up to improve the implementation and effectiveness of UN sanctions.

Sanctions can be described as an effective measure "between words and war." We believe that UN sanctions, when properly applied and well calibrated within a broader political strategy, can serve as a versatile tool for responding to security challenges.

That is why we have supported the effective implementation of current sanctions on DPRK, and support swift additional measures in view of recent violations, while at the same time underlining that in parallel, creative diplomatic efforts and dialogue is urgently needed to seek a peaceful, diplomatic and comprehensive solution.

Mr. President,

The legal basis for UN sanctions derives from the UN Charter. The sanctions instrument has evolved over time. Over the past quarter of a century, the Security Council has deployed sanctions with increasing regularity and with increasingly broader aims. We must build on this experience, and learn from less effective measures as well as draw lessons from the successes.

The evolution from comprehensive to targeted sanctions has largely addressed many concerns about unintended consequences and adverse effects. Over time, assessments and pre-assessments have been conducted, and there has been a steady move towards standardizing humanitarian exemptions. The Security Council could nevertheless put even more emphasis on assessments of the impact of its measures, both ex ante and ex post.

Additionally, sanctions regimes and measures should be periodically reviewed by the Council to ensure that objectives are properly met. The Council should also conduct periodic reviews of listed individuals and entities in all sanctions regimes to ensure that information is up to date and that the listings remain appropriate.

As we have heard from many colleagues today, sanctions can never be successful in isolation. They must always be part of a broader political strategy, featuring elements of peacekeeping, peacemaking and peacebuilding. Thus, sanctions must also be evaluated within an overall approach to support international peace and security. When evaluating sanctions, one must remember that every sanctions regime is unique, and that targeted sanctions have multiple purposes.

Mr. President,

It is important to safeguard and build upon the achievements made so far on rule of law and due process, in particularly through the establishment of the Office of the Ombudsperson. Our common obligation to implement decisions by the Council coexists with obligations to respect fundamental human rights. By further improving fair and clear procedures, the Council would render the sanctions tool more effective and legitimate, thereby enhancing the authority of the Council and that of the UN as a whole.

We would also like to see enhanced attention to women, peace and security and children in armed conflict in both thematic and country-specific action when it comes to sanctions. For example, by adding sexual and gender based violence as designation criteria and inviting the SRSGs on Sexual Violence in Conflict and Children in Armed Conflict to brief sanctions committees. Furthermore, we would like to see gender analysis in the reporting of experts, including on the impacts of sanctions and counterterrorism strategies and the gender dimensions of the flow of arms and illicit trafficking of humans, drugs, and natural resources.

In conclusion, Mr. President, let me underline once again that sanctions is a key instrument in the limited toolbox that this Council has at its disposal to prevent conflicts and promote peace. We hope that today's discussion, efforts to implement the High Level Review, and the ongoing hard work in the sanctions committees, will help to further enhance the effectiveness and credibility of this important tool.

I 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