Statement by Sweden at the UN Security Council Briefing by the High Commissioner for Refugees


National Statement delivered by Ambassador Irina Schoulgin Nyoni on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Briefing by the High Commissioner for Refugees, 2 November 2017, New York.

Mr President,

Let me begin by thanking the High Commissioner for his briefing today. Our work, and that of the High Commissioner and his office, are intimately linked. For when we fail to prevent or resolve conflict, it is the High Commissioner and UNHCR staff that stand with neighbouring countries and humanitarian partners to provide refuge and relief to those forced to flee their homes. At the same time, how the international community responds to forced displacement across borders has clear consequences for international peace and security.

There are now more people than ever in need of UNHCR's assistance. We commend the High Commissioner and his staff for their continued leadership and for providing a voice to refugees who arrive with nothing except heartbreak, fear, and their futures, stolen and erased, by conflict and displacement.

High Commissioner Grandi, you began your presentation at the border between Myanmar and Bangladesh. Like you we are deeply concerned by the situation in Myanmar and Bangladesh. We know you need our support to respond to the needs of those on both sides of the border. We welcome the important financial contributions to the response made at the Myanmar conference in Geneva some weeks ago. We encourage all member-states to ensure that you and your partners have the resources you need to do your job.

If the Rohingya refugees are to return home, a political solution to the crisis is essential. Sweden fully supports the way forward laid out by the Secretary-General. We must address the immediate crisis by ending the violence and ensuring humanitarian access, while at the same time taking steps to achieve a lasting resolution to the conflict in Rakhine state. This includes the issue of citizenship for the Rohingya. Only then will refugees be able to return home voluntarily and to dignified conditions, where they can begin to rebuild their lives with confidence in the future. The United Nations should be invited to assist this process. UNHCR has a key role to play in providing support, expertise and experience in upholding international standards and ensuring sustainable conditions for return.

Mr President,

Sweden was one of the original 26 countries that negotiated the 1951 Convention. Since then our commitment to the plight of refugees has not waived. Today, UNHCR continues to have our full political support. The growing numbers of forcibly displaced people means there is also a need for enhanced and sustained financial support for UNCHR and other humanitarian organisations. Support is not only needed in those places that are currently grabbing the headlines, but also, as the High Commissioner reminded us today, in protracted situations that risk being forgotten, such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We encourage all Council members to maintain and increase their financial support to UNHCR; in particular, through flexible, unearmarked financing, that allows UNHCR to respond quickly in crises.

The High Commissioner has illustrated the clear links between conflict and refugee flows. As I said in my opening, the inability to prevent and resolve conflicts often results in large scale refugee flows that have enormous human and political costs. These flows often, in turn, contribute to instability and conflict; resulting in a mutually reinforcing cycle of conflict and displacement.

The protracted refugee crisis in Syria is a clear illustration of the need for early warning and early action to prevent conflicts and subsequent forced displacement. We commend UNHCR's efforts in addressing the needs of the millions of displaced persons resulting from the Syria crisis.

We agree with the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner that we must redouble our efforts to prevent conflict from emerging, to manage and end conflicts when they do, and to prevent a slide back into conflict when peace is achieved. This is the mission of the United Nations and all parts of the organisation must work together to this end. This Council must live up to its responsibility by using all the tools at our disposal to end conflict and sustain peace. By doing so, we can enable people to return home.

Mr President,

International humanitarian law and human rights law are essential for the protection of the lives, health and dignity of persons caught up in conflicts. They must be respected at all times. In addition, humanitarian organisations must be given full and unimpeded humanitarian access to reach refugees in need of assistance and protection.

Half of the world's refugees are children. Refugee children, particularly unaccompanied minors, are particularly vulnerable and should the receive protection, health care, education, psychosocial support - and the hope - needed to rebuild their futures.

Mr President,

Humanitarian relief can only ever be part of the response to forced displacement. Millions of people around the world are trapped in protracted refugee situations – living in limbo. Providing dignity and certainly for refugees trapped in these circumstances requires both short term approaches and long-term durable solutions.

We continue to see generosity and solidarity towards refugees across the world. It is essential that we recognise the role of those countries and communities that are hosting large numbers of refugees and provide them with support. Working together, the international community and host country governments can provide for refugee self-reliance, livelihood opportunities, and host community development. This will also help maximise the positive contribution that refugees make to their host communities. We also welcome UNHCR's important partnership with the World Bank in this regard. By working closely together, the UN system can ensure that refugees are not left behind in development processes.

We strongly support UNHCR's coordination role, building on the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework, to agree the Global Compact on Refugees to be adopted next year. The new Global Compact will provide an important framework for comprehensive responses to large scale and protracted displacements.

Mr President,

Let me conclude by thanking High Commissioner Grandi once again for his briefing. In light of the clear interlinkages between our work and yours, we would encourage you, High Commissioner, to come back to the Council more often and to alert us when you believe early action or support from the Council is needed. We would also welcome the opportunity to receive another update and to have another broad exchange with you in the course of 2018.

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