Swedish statement at the UN Security Council Open Debate on the Purposes and Principles of the Charter of the UN


National statement delivered by Ambassador Olof Skoog on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Open Debate on the Purposes and Principles of the Charter of the United Nations, 21 February 2018, New York.

Thank You, Mr President,

I would like to begin by expressing my gratitude to Kuwait for convening this important debate on the anniversary of your country's liberation in 1991. This remains an excellent example of how the Security Council shouldered its responsibility by taking collective measures in line with the Charter. That Kuwait now just hosted a donor conference on Iraq, shows a deep understanding for how the prosperity and stability of your neighbor contributes to your own security and wellbeing. Regional cooperation is enlightened self-interest and represents one of the cornerstones of the international peace and security architecture.

We are in the presence of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon here today and I praise his efforts to uphold the values of the Organization. I also thank Secretary-General Guterres for his statment, and would like to underscore his call for an urgent cessation of hostilities in Eastern Ghouta and elsewhere in Syria. We are working hard with Kuwait and all other Member States to this end.

The UN Charter was adopted in the shadow of two world wars. At the time, the purpose of the Charter was clear. As Secretary-General Guterres told us when he assumed office: "The United Nations was established to prevent war by binding us in a rules-based international order." The Charter is the foundation of our collective security system. However, making this system work for all means every Member State must play its role. It is contingent upon each Member State to abide by and defend the rules-based order prescribed by the Charter. This is not just a question of political will, but an actual legal obligation.

Under the Charter's provisions, much has been achieved. But we must also recognise that for many, the aspirations captured in its purposes and principles, to live in peace and security without violence, remain elusive. The continued aggression and illegal annexation in Ukraine, the intolerable suffering inflicted on the civilian population in Syria, our inability to find a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the continued violence and humanitarian crises in conflicts such as in Yemen, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Libya and the horrendous reports on violations in Myanmar, are all an affront to this system.

By article 24 of the Charter, this Council – elected and non-elected members alike – acts on behalf of all members of the United Nations and must do so in in accordance with the Charter, its purposes and principles. The permanent members have a special responsibility. That is why the use of the veto to protect narrow national interests in situations of mass atrocities is totally unacceptable. I call on all members to adhere to the ACT-group Code of Conduct and the Franco-Mexican initiative on restraint of the veto especially in the event of mass atrocities. In addition, the global world order must be based on a fair and just system, where States have equitable representation. We repeat the need for reform of this Council in order for it to reflect the realities of today's world.

Mr President,

The provisions on peaceful settlement of disputes, as laid out in Chapter VI of the Charter, contain powerful instruments to resolve disputes before they escalate into serious conflicts.

I would like to highlight five tools that the Council should make better use of.

Firstly, early action, to resolve conflicts peacefully in accordance with article 33. A recent example is the Council's response to the crisis in the Gambia last year. Early and swift Council action contributed to preventing a potential outbreak of violence. A unanimous Security Council working closely with ECOWAS and the AU adopted a resolution defending democratic principles. The collective security system worked and the rules-based international order was upheld.

Secondly, the Council should support mediation and good offices in an engaged, supportive and united manner. We welcome the formation of the Secretary-General's High-Level Advisory Board on Mediation and the Council should examine how it can be supported. Women's meaningful participation in conflict prevention and resolution is key. The Swedish Women's Mediation Network is contributing to peace processes around the world and we are happy to bring this experience to the table.

Thirdly, regional organizations are key actors in preventing conflict and the settlement of disputes at a regional level. The Council should make full use of Chapter VIII of the Charter and encourage the settlement of disputes through regional arrangements and be kept informed of how the Council can support regional efforts to prevent conflict. In this context, we welcome regular meetings between the Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council as well as cooperation between the UN and the EU. The Helsinki Process in Europe can serve as a model for building trust and confidence in regions where such assets are missing, such as the Middle East.

Fourthly, judicial bodies, such as international courts, contribute to resolving disputes based on the rule of law. The International Court of Justice continues to play an important role in this regard. The Council should more actively consider the possibility of recommending referrals to the Court. In addition to the ICJ, the number of dispute settlement mechanisms and resort to such mechanisms are increasing. The International Criminal Court as a deterrent for international crimes has a key role in preventing conflict. The decision to activate the Court's jurisdiction over the crime of aggression stems directly from the UN Charter.

Finally, we encourage the Secretary-General to make even more use of his prerogative, including under article 99, to bring to the attention of the Council any matter that in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security, and of course expect Members to be responsive to such petitions. The Secretary-General took this step in relation to Myanmar late last year, bringing our attention to the situation there and its potential implications beyond the borders of the country.

Mr President,

Former Secretary-General Annan said in 2005: "we will not enjoy development without security, or security without development. ....and neither without universal respect for human rights." Therefore, the role of the Council in preventing conflicts must be seen within this broader context.

Prevention requires addressing root causes of conflict and instability long before they reach this Council's agenda. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – with its aim of peaceful, inclusive and sustainable societies – together with the sustaining peace agenda, represents the masterplan for prevention. We welcome the joint UN and World Bank study on inclusive approaches to preventing violent conflict "Pathways for peace" and we strongly support the Secretary-General's reform agenda which aims to put sustainable development, conflict prevention and sustaining peace at the center of the United Nations' work.

Violations and abuses of human rights can be the first indicators of a nascent conflict. Conversely, the respect for and protection of human rights contribute to addressing the root causes of instability, thereby helping to prevent and resolve conflicts, and sustaining peace. We fully support the Secretary-General's Human Rights Up Front-initiative as a tool for early warning and prevention.

Mr President,

It is more important than ever for member states to act on principles and to base their decisions and actions on international law. I would therefore like to conclude by again stressing that the Security Council is central to upholding the rules-based international order as reflected in the Charter. This means that member states are expected to act in accordance with the Charter, and for the Council to ensure that States, as well as individuals, are held accountable for the most serious of violations of the Charter.

This wonderful and visionary text [the Charter] is still valid. We must make better use of its provisions and the instruments that are there.

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