Swedish statement at the UN Security Council Debate on Cooperation between the UN and regional and sub-regional organizations


National statement delivered by Ambassador Carl Skau on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Debate on Cooperation between the UN and regional and sub-regional organizations; the role of States, regional arrangements and the United Nations in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, 6 December 2018, New York.

Thank you, Mr. President,

And thank you Secretary-General, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, and the President of the ECOWAS Commission for your valuable remarks this morning.

Mr. President,

During our very first month as a Security Council member, in January 2017, we organized a debate on Conflict Prevention and Sustaining Peace, at which the Secretary-General had the opportunity to set out his vision for a “surge in diplomacy for peace” and effective conflict prevention. We did so because we saw a need for a new political consensus in support of prevention and a commitment to policies and actions that prevent conflicts before they begin. 

So now, 24 months later, how have we done? As our term is ending, it is only natural to look back at what has been achieved, and what conclusions can be drawn.

Even though we see a new momentum for prevention overall, when it comes to actual prevention of conflict, this Council is still falling short. We should all be held to account for this. 

Mr. President,

The UN Charter provides us with a clear mandate to investigate any situation which might lead to international friction or give rise to a dispute. Yet, we still spend the majority of our time and resources on trying to manage conflicts on our agenda. A culture of complacency surrounding conflict prevention has very real costs, and in the long-term risks undermining the credibility of this institution.

Today’s meeting therefore provides us with a useful opportunity to focus on the earlier phases of preventing and resolving conflicts and how to overcome the current status quo. This includes an important discussion on how to strengthen cooperation between the UN and regional and sub-regional organizations, as they play a key role in complementing the UN in the fields of conflict prevention and conflict resolution.

Regional organizations are crucial partners in this work, as they are often the first to identify initial signs and risks of potential conflicts, have a good understanding of the issues at stake and carry credibility at the local levels.

We have seen numerous examples of when their early engagement has changed potentially negative outcomes for the better as well as the effectiveness of regional approaches in resolving conflicts. ECOWAS played a key role in achieving a successful outcome of the Ivoirian peace process, and its resolute actions in Gambia, with active support from this Council, ushered in a peaceful transition of power in January 2017. In the Horn of Africa, we have seen how the courageous decisions of its leaders have given hope and prospect for peace and development for the whole region, and how IGAD has been instrumental in reaching a revitalized peace agreement for South Sudan. It is crucial that organizations such as the AU, ECOWAS, SADC and IGAD have the necessary capacity to engage in the early stages of conflict.

Mr. President,

The UN and regional and sub-regional organizations have important complementary roles in conflict prevention. Sweden has therefore been a longstanding supporter of an enhanced strategic partnership between the UN and the AU and we welcome the renewed momentum and concrete steps taken to advance this, not least thanks to the dedicated leadership of the UN Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission themselves.

We have already benefitted from this closer cooperation, including the recent joint visit by UN and AU officials to Lake Chad, South Sudan and the Sahel. The collaboration between our two Councils has also increased, as demonstrated for example by the fruitful UN Council and the AU PSC meeting in July where we had constructive discussions, concrete outcomes and unified messages. This spirit needs now to further be built upon, including that our two Councils conduct joint field visits, to further facilitate a shared analysis of situations on our agenda.

UN regional offices represent one of the most effective mechanisms for conflict prevention and resolution at our disposal, and we see scope for establishing further such offices in other parts of the world. UNOWAS and its preventive functions must be built upon and we should learn from its successes. We welcome the enlarged mandate for a Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Horn of Africa, as we see potential for an enhanced role for IGAD in leading integration in the region. The proactive and successful cooperation between the UN’s regional offices and regional organizations should be harnessed to enhance sub-regional capacities and create synergies.

Mr. President,

We commend the work carried out by the AU to strengthen its capacity in preventing, mediating, and settling conflicts on the African continent, consistent with Chapter VIII of the UN Charter. We also commend the ongoing effort of the AU to enhance self-reliance and financing of its activities, and especially welcome the AU’s commitment to fund 25 percent of its peace support operations by 2020 as well as the progress made in fulfilling this commitment.

To realize the full potential of the AU-UN partnership, additional financial and political support is now needed. We welcome the ongoing collaborative work on strengthening oversight and accountability of AU-led peace operations, including further reinforcing the women, peace and security agenda. We also welcome the ongoing work to strengthen the respect for human rights, international humanitarian law and the conduct and discipline framework for AU-led peace operations, in order to enable access to assessed UN contributions. The ongoing work on a draft resolution to this effect is important and has our full support.

Our efforts to enhance African capabilities must go beyond strengthening military responses, and should rather be based on a presumption of prevention and a focus on early investments, as prevention not only saves lives, but as the Secretary-General pointed out this morning, is also economically sensible. There is a need to shift from a silo mentality between mediation, political dialogue, security, and development, and take a holistic and integrated approach. This includes structural prevention at national level and building strong and inclusive institutions. Based on recent discussions and conclusions of this Council and the African Union, we should cooperate to ensure adequate risk assessments and forecasting analysis pertaining to root causes of conflict, not least with respect to climate-related security risks. Regional integration as such is also a powerful vehicle for conflict prevention in the long haul, and should thus be encouraged.

In addition, triangular partnerships beyond the AU and the UN should be further explored. The European Union has been a long-standing supporter of AU’s peace operations, not least in Somalia and the Sahel, where we have seen fruitful collaboration between the three organizations. We welcome further opportunities for trilateral cooperation. We also see a potential for increased European participation in UN Peacekeeping.

In conclusion Mr. President,

Upon entering this Council, incoming elected members are often told that conflict prevention is a “difficult” topic, and that it is “too sensitive” to try to push this agenda. But really, it should be more politically sensitive to continue to fail in this regard. We all have a joint responsibility to do everything we can to ensure that conflict prevention now becomes the “new normal“ and at the very core of our efforts. The permanent members of this Council have a particular responsibility in this regard. Moving forward, enhancing the partnership between the UN and regional and sub-regional organizations is one critical part in making the SG’s vision for a “surge in diplomacy for peace” a reality. This will require our substantial and sustained political and financial investment and Sweden intend to continue to actively contribute to this end.

I thank you, Mr. President.


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