Swedish statement at the UN Security Council Open Debate on “Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Strengthening Multilateralism and the Role of the United Nations"


National statement delivered by Ambassador Irina Schoulgin Nyoni on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Open Debate on “Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Strengthening Multilateralism and the Role of the United Nations", 9 November 2018, New York.

Thank you, Mr President,

I align myself with the statements to be delivered on behalf of the European Union and the Nordic countries.

Mr. President,

I would like to thank you for organizing this timely debate on a subject that engages not only us at the United Nations but also communities and people worldwide. And as our world is getting increasingly interconnected and interdependent, we must constantly reflect on the fundamental purpose of our cooperation here at the UN.

Let me also thank the Secretary-General and our other distinguished briefers this morning.

A rules-based international order and multilateral cooperation, with the UN at its core, are perhaps more important than ever. These are cornerstones of Swedish foreign policy, as well as the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union. Multilateralism also represents an end in itself, as it embodies humankind’s commitment to coexistence and cooperation. Ultimately, multilateralism is how we unite for peace and alleviate human suffering.

But multilateralism and the UN are also increasingly under pressure. Short-sighted and narrow interests stand ready to exploit this organization’s shortcomings. Failure to deliver on our commitments for peace, security and development risks turning them into empty words, paving the way for cynicism and polarization.

The risks, challenges and threats of our time require joint action. Climate change, weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and violent extremism, all have consequences that go beyond the scope of any single state. Multilateral cooperation is required.

We already have the norms and structures – now we are living a time of action and implementation.

Fortunately, the evidence is clear: we can do it, if we put our minds to it. The substantial multilateral achievements that have been made recently – the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement, and the Sustaining Peace Agenda – are all powerful illustrations of what can be achieved through multilateral cooperation, as are the rules-based multilateral world trade system, upheld by the World Trade Organisation.

And we have, not least, encouraging examples from all over the world, where collaboration and cooperation in everything from peacekeeping to climate action has resulted in a better life and hope for the future for so many. These achievements must never be degraded to mere ink on paper. We owe it to the people to deliver results.

Mr President,

Let me highlight three key aspects that we believe need to be the focus to strengthen multilateralism and the role of the United Nations:

Firstly, we must embrace prevention.

For this Council to be able to fulfil its task, we need to act on the full range of threats to international peace and security. We need to be better at identifying risks and root causes of conflicts, and ensure that our response is comprehensive. Early warnings must also lead to early action. A better understanding of climate-related security risks is an obvious example.

The global norms against the use of weapons of mass destruction are indispensable pillars of the global disarmament and non-proliferation regime that protect us against the dangers of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and their horrific consequences for humanity. Repeated use of chemical weapons and worrying tendencies regarding nuclear capabilities and doctrines paint an ominous picture. Safeguarding the non-use norms must be an overarching priority – and remains a crucial component of prevention.

To this end, every effort must be made to ensure a successful NPT Review Conference in 2020. This Council should also stand behind the Agenda for Disarmament launched earlier this year by the UN Secretary-General, and increased high-level UN engagement.

Secondly, we need to keep the UN Charter and international law at the core of our cooperation.

The Charter of the United Nations was drafted against the backdrop of a collapse of the international order and a surge in nationalism, which led to war and human suffering. Although the threats look different today, the faith in humankind’s ability to unite for peace and overcome differences remains at the heart of multilateralism.  

We, the members of the United Nations, have already committed to the principles of this Charter. It is contingent upon each Member State to abide by and defend the rules-based international order that it prescribes.

In order to effectively prevent and resolve threats to international peace and security, cooperation continues to be the only way forward. We must shoulder our joint responsibility to uphold international law, including human rights. It is not less vital today than 70 years ago. This is not merely a question of political will, but a legal obligation to be fulfilled in good faith. And above all, it is a duty to humanity.

The international legal system founded on human rights, democracy and the principles of the rule of law must be constantly defended. This has become particularly clear in light of the repressive and reactionary trend we are seeing in several parts of the world today, where in particular the protection and promotion of human rights increasingly are being called into question.

Also in context of prevention, the provisions on peaceful settlement of disputes, as laid out in Chapter VI of the Charter, also contain powerful instruments to resolve disputes – based on the rule of law and before they escalate into serious conflicts.

The International Court of Justice is fundamental in upholding and clarifying the rules of international law, including its role in maintaining and promoting the rule of law. As a deterrent to international crimes and a force against impunity, The International Criminal Court plays a key role in preventing conflict.

Finally, we need a United Nations in tune with our times, that is relevant and legitimate to all.

Mr President,

There is no more effective way to build and maintain trust and confidence in multilateralism and the UN system than delivering concrete results on peace, security and development where it matters the most – for the millions of women, men, boys and girls who live in the shadow of war and poverty. The UN system is a global public good – and it is in our shared strategic interest to keep investing in it. The long-term gains from doing so are far greater than any short-term costs.

It is therefore imperative that we continue to support the implementation of the Secretary-General’s reforms of the UN system – at a time when they are needed more than ever. These reforms offer an unprecedented opportunity to make the United Nations more flexible and effective, and better equipped to respond to current and emerging challenges. This is the recipe for enhancing trust and confidence in multilateralism. And not least, the ongoing reform process is a key opportunity to ensure that a gender perspective is integrated into all aspects of the work of the UN system.

As members of this Council, we need to do better in meeting our responsibilities under the UN Charter to maintain international peace and security. We need to work harder to overcome our differences, and come together in united responses to effectively address the many difficult issues on our agenda. Our working methods should be more results-oriented and focus on taking meaningful decisions that make a difference for people’s lives on the ground.

This is not only our responsibility under the Charter, but also to all members of the General Assembly. But first and foremost – we owe this to the people affected by conflict, oppression, poverty and climate change throughout the world.

To achieve this, all members of this Council must do their utmost to ensure that it can fulfil its responsibility as stipulated by the UN Charter. We call for a renewed discussion on limiting the use of the veto, since its use is ultimately crippling the UN.

We also need a Council that better reflects realities of today’s world, through enhanced African representation, as well as Asian and Latin American representation.

Mr President,

We also need a shift in narrative. We should not only defend multilateralism, we should go on the offensive. Let us enhance it so that it’s utilized to its full potential.

We would like to encourage the Secretary-General to continue his ambitious reform agenda, his focus on bringing us together and truly work multilaterally towards sustaining peace, the implementation of Agenda 2030 and the Paris Agreement.

You can count on Sweden’s continued firm commitment to multilateralism and to the UN.

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