Swedish Position Papers

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Swedish Position Papers

Post  Ben on Sat Mar 28, 2009 5:19 pm

The Swedish Delegation to the United Nations General Assembly
Represented by Benjamin Hofmann

Swedish Position Paper on Human Rights Education

Sweden is an advocate for human rights. On the national level, human rights are primarily protected by three constitutional laws (the Instrument of Government, the Freedom of the Press Act, the Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression). On the international level, Sweden believes in the effectiveness of multilateralism, above all in the frameworks of the United Nations, the Council of Europe and the European Union. It has signed all important conventions and additional protocols of the UN, the Council of Europe and the ILO, including, among others, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948), Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (1951), Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965), International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966), International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979), Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1984), Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (1999) and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (2000).
Since past enlargements of the EU have been another powerful tool to strengthen human rights in Europe, the Swedish Prime Minister, Frederik Reinfeldt, has declared the country’s support for future enlargements. From July 2009 on, when Sweden takes over the EU Presidency from Czech Republic “… Sweden will also work for a more visible role for the European Union in the area of human rights” (Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt).

Besides multilateralism, Sweden has developed a sophisticated human rights dimension in its foreign policy. The key principles of Sweden’s human rights policy are universality, indivisibility and non-discrimination in the application of human rights. Furthermore, Sweden stresses that human rights apply to individuals, whose protection is the responsibility of governments. Nonetheless, calling attention to violations of human rights is not regarded as being an unjustified interference in the affairs of other states. On the contrary, Sweden strongly believes that it is legitimate to react in order to secure that human rights are respected. Together with its Scandinavian and Baltic partners, Sweden has committed itself to the global promotion of peaceful conflict resolution and human rights, for instance in the Caucasus, the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia.

Sweden acknowledges the importance of education as an instrument in the promotion of human rights, especially in strengthening women’s rights and rights of the child throughout the globe. That is why, nationally, Sweden’s second National Action Plan for Human Rights 2006-2009 states that education on human rights represents a central part of the schools’ task to promote democracy and therefore should form part of their work with basic values. As regards higher education, an evaluation of the presence of human rights is currently underway. Internationally, Sweden is, besides Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, the only country which fulfils the UN target of spending 0.7% of its GNI for development assistance. Sweden strongly encourages other developed countries to follow its example in order to provide the necessary financial means for broader, sustainable development in developing countries which has to root in full respect of human rights.

Swedish Position Paper on the Financial Crisis and Attempts to Improve Regulation

As a small, open, financially highly integrated and trade dependent economy, Sweden feels immediate consequences of the recent financial and economic crisis in the form of severe economic downturn. The breakdown of Lehman Brothers in the United States produced a financial shockwave which has also hit healthy Swedish banks. The government has therefore taken economic policy measures which are, on the one hand, supposed to ensure the liquidity of Swedish banks and, on the other hand, aim at sustaining jobs and economic activity, improve research and future infrastructure and reinforce welfare provision.

Throughout the last months, Swedish economists and former policy-makers have frequently been consulted by foreign leaders to present the Swedish experiences made during its national financial crisis in 1992. Although the recent crisis is of a significantly larger scale, the Swedish government is convinced that also nowadays financial support to crisis-ridden banks is of utmost importance in order to get the financial system back on track. The Swedish Foreign Minister, Carl Bildt, has emphasised, that, moreover, “it is essential to renew the international financial institutions so as to prevent the economic crisis from further deepening and turning into a trade war. Consequently, Sweden will continue to insist on the importance of free trade, greater openness and more economic cooperation.”
In this context and as a regional economic power in the North, Sweden is already taking its responsibilities very seriously. Together with its Northern partners, Sweden has recently proved its ability and willingness to support small states facing serious financial troubles because of the current crisis by providing considerable financial aid to Iceland and is ready to do so as well in the case of Latvia. Furthermore, Sweden has a vital interest in concluding the Doha negotiations and in reaching new free trade agreements with Ukraine, India, the Gulf Cooperation Council and others.

As regards actions to be taken on the international level, the Swedish policy guideline is best expressed in the key principle “common rules, national responsibility”. Sweden welcomes discussions about how to optimize financial regulation and intends to support this process actively together with its European partners, especially when holding the EU Presidency. However, it draws attention to its position that any regulations should not introduce unnecessary obstacles to international trade and financial integration. Furthermore, they should leave enough room for independent national economic policy. In the course of attempts to build up a new financial architecture, Sweden emphasises that financial institutions should always give a clear voice to small states, since they are the most vulnerable members of the international economic community. In a broader perspective, Sweden perceives the current crisis as an opportunity to promote sustainable economic development in all parts of the world. Therefore, Sweden will continue in its efforts to strengthen development cooperation, especially with regards to African countries.


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