Gains of UN Security Council under Swedish presidency

United Nations Security Council
Pic: UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras

As President of the UN Security Council, Sweden has been responsible for the Security Council’s very broad agenda and led its intensive day-to-day work. The Security Council’s primary purpose is to maintain international peace and security, and Sweden has contributed to these efforts by focusing on results, dialogue and inclusive leadership.

Sweden assumed the presidency of the UN Security Council on 1 July this year, taking as its starting point core Swedish values such as respect for international law, human rights, gender equality and a humanitarian perspective.

As Sweden’s second and last presidency of its two-year term on the Security Council has ended, it is time to summarise the efforts and accomplishments of this presidency.

Fulfilling its mandate to maintain international peace and security has perhaps never been more difficult for the UN Security Council than it is today.

Protracted conflicts, humanitarian crises and emerging situations affecting the security situation in different parts of the world have at times contributed to very challenging conditions for our work and that of the Security Council. And yet, during our presidency, not only have we contributed to the Security Council’s ability to respond to new potential crisis situations, we have also effectively pursued a number of important issues.

These include the adoption of a new resolution to strengthen the protection of children in armed conflict – one of Sweden’s focus areas during its membership of the Security Council.

Sweden has also succeeded in bringing a clear focus to women, peace and security in the Council’s day-to-day work, which has strengthened women’s voice in a very tangible way. In addition, gender balance among the Security Council briefers was achieved for the first time ever.

During Sweden’s presidency, we have also continued to clarify the linkages between climate and security by holding the first debate on climate-related security risks in the Security Council since 2011. The Security Council’s ability to identify and manage climate-related security threats must be strengthened.

Sweden has also contributed to strengthening relations between the Security Council and the African Union (AU). In connection with the centenary of the birth of Nelson Mandela, the Swedish presidency organised the annual consultative meeting between the Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council.

At the meeting, the two Councils adopted a joint communiqué containing clear and agreed messages regarding the importance of elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a political solution to the conflict in South Sudan and funding of African peace support operations.

The Security Council addresses the most severe crises of our times on a continuous basis. Several were addressed in July, including Myanmar. In this regard, Sweden has successfully worked to call the Security Council’s continuing attention to the alarming situation of the Rohingya population, for example through the first-ever briefing to the Security Council by the UN Special Envoy for Myanmar.

To increase the Security Council’s engagement in Yemen, we requested an urgent meeting in July. At Sweden’s initiative, the Security Council was able to give the UN Special Envoy for Yemen strong support for his efforts to achieve a resumed political process for peace.

Under Sweden’s presidency, the Security Council was also able to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan. This is a clear message from the international community to the war-torn country to invest in peace and development, not in weapons.

Sweden has long been committed to a solution to the conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia. It was therefore particularly pleasing that under Sweden’s presidency, the United Security Council was able to adopt a statement in support of the agreement reached between Eritrea and Ethiopia on 9 July.

In our role as president, we have promoted results-oriented, inclusive and transparent working methods. Ahead of discussions in the Security Council, we communicated with the countries involved; Sweden talks with – and not only about – countries.

The concrete results of our presidency could not have been achieved without our inclusive approach, rooted in the conviction that peace and security issues concern everyone. This is also why we invited civil society representatives from countries including Colombia, Chad and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to brief the Security Council.

Although Sweden’s presidency of the Security Council has come to an end, we will continue our focused and purposeful efforts to contribute to the vital work of the Security Council. The world needs more international cooperation, not less. This is how the challenges, crises and conflicts of our times must be addressed.

Swedish Government