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The Diplomatic Dispatch

The British Ambassador to Sweden blogs on The Local

Archive for November, 2012

The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

Guest blog by Jenny Söderqvist, Political Attaché at the British Embassy in Sweden

This Sunday is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women – a UN initiative to raise awareness about this complex and serious problem. The date – 25 of November – has not been chosen at random, but marks the brutal assassination of the three Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic, in 1960. That was over 50 years ago. But sadly, still today, we see too much violence against women and girls. This is a global problem that takes many different shapes and is closely linked to wider security and development issues.

One worrying example is the widespread sexual violence in war. From Bosnia to the Democratic Republic of Congo, rape has been used as a terrifying weapon in conflict. To raise awareness Foreign Secretary William Hague launched his Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI) with UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie in May. This initiative aims to increase the number of perpetrators brought to justice by supporting international efforts and co-ordination, to prevent and respond to sexual violence and helping states build national capacity.

The British government is working hard to raise awareness of the problem and design and pursue adequate long-term responses, driven by both women and men. At the Embassy we discussed this issue with Swedish women’s groups, policy makers and non-governmental representatives, when the Permanent Secretary at the British Department for International Development, Mark Lowcock, visited Sweden in September. They all had lots of good ideas how to deal with the root causes of violence against women. This meeting really underlined to me that although in many cases the victims were women and girls, they were also the key to the solution.  As an (often vocal!) woman myself I know what powerful advocates of change women can be.  Women and girls hardly ever fight the world’s wars, but they often suffer the most. It’s time we all took a stand to change this.

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Trade, tax, transparency: the UK G8 agenda

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Next year Britain chairs the G8, the group of the world’s most developed Western economies. So what you might ask?

Some people ask: does the G8 still matter, when we have a G20, embracing also the emerging powers, including Brazil, India and China?

The UK’s answer is “Yes”. The G8 is a group of like-minded nations who share a belief in free enterprise as the best route to growth. And as the countries make up half of the world’s GDP, what we do can help solve vital global issues, stimulate economies and encourage prosperity all over the world.

The G8 Summit next year will be held in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, a tribute to the success in promoting security and prosperity in that long-troubled part of the UK.
It will be focused on three priorities. Advancing trade, ensuring tax compliance and promoting greater transparency.

There is no greater stimulus for growth in the world economy than trade. As the G8, we have a collective responsibility to drive forward trade liberalisation.  The UK and Sweden are leading EU efforts to finalise a free trade agreement with Canada and to launch negotiations with Japan and America over the next year. We want G8 leaders to agree how we will accelerate progress across our ambitious trade agenda. An EU/US deal could provide an enormous boost to jobs and growth adding over £50 billion to the EU economy alone.

People rightly get angry when they work hard and pay their taxes, but see others not paying their fair share. So this G8 will seek to maintain the momentum on strengthening of international tax standards. We will look to go further on tax havens by improving tax information exchange. And we will work with developing countries to help them improve their ability to collect the tax that is due to them.

The UK is meeting our commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of our gross national income on aid from 2013 – and we will be holding other countries to account for their promises too. We will also be leading the way in the battle against hunger with a special event on food and nutrition a few days before the main meeting, to follow up on this year’s Olympic Hunger Summit.

The UK wants to use this G8 to support what David Cameron calls the “golden thread” of conditions that enable open economies and open societies to drive prosperity and growth for all. These include the rule of law, the absence of conflict and corruption, and the presence of property rights and strong institutions.

Transparency and accountability are vital for this. Take the issue of mineral wealth. We need to make sure that, for developing countries, this is a blessing not a curse. So the UK is leading efforts in the EU to require oil, gas and mining companies to publish key financial information for each country and project they work on. And I want this G8 to drive greater transparency all around the globe so that revenues from oil, gas and mining can help developing countries to forge a path to sustainable growth, instead of fuelling conflict and corruption.

These defining advances in trade, tax and transparency could lay the foundations of long-term growth and prosperity for generations to come.

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Meeting new friends at the Friends Arena

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Every once in a while you have one of those moments you know you’ll remember for a long time. Hearing Simon and Garfunkel in Hyde Park, or Elton John in Madison Square Garden are two musical examples. In football, I will never forget being in the Stade de France when my school mate John Collins scored a goal for Scotland against Brazil in the opening match of the 1998 World Cup.

And I will not forget in hurry last night’s match at the new Friends Arena, the great Steven Gerrard’s 100th cap and Zlatan’s last goal in particular.

Others, I hope, will have special memories from the week as well. That will certainly include 20 teenagers from Fryshuset, who got the chance to meet the England team the night before the game.

We have worked with Fryshuset on several occasions before, most recently during the visit of HRH Prince of Wales and HRH Duchess of Cornwall to Sweden in March this year.  I’m delighted that we could offer these youths such a special opportunity this week.

Fryshuset makes a huge difference in many people’s lives every day, especially through their work with children in the field of sports and music, and the way they help combat racism in society through their different programmes and projects.

The young fans were very impressed by the new Friends Arena, and so was I.  It was built with the support of several UK suppliers, was filled virtually to its 50,000 spectator maximum  on match night, including 1,867 England fans who had travelled to Sweden for the game.

Travelling football fans are a growing group.  6% of Swedes travelling to the UK every year are football tourists.   That makes 48,000 Swedes visiting the UK mainly to watch Premier League football (with perhaps just a few pub and shop visits thrown in!) every year.  If the games they see are half as good as last night, they’ll be lucky indeed!

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25 August

Hit och dit, här och där (The Swedish Teacher) »

" Hej igen! A common challenge for Swedish language students are the location adverbs hit/här, dit/där, hem/hemma etc. Some of the location adverbs come in two versions. We should use one type of location adverb when we use a verb describes where we are, and we should use the other type of location adverb when we the verb..." READ »

 

25 August

The Dollar Store (Blogweiser) »

"A dollar store in Sweden. Blog post: http://t.co/tNuuvcP1q0 #USD #greenbacks #sweden #sverige pic.twitter.com/RHFAYf7U1k — Joel Sherwood (@joeldsherwood) August 23, 2014 There’s a chain here in Sweden called The DollarStore. This name always stood out to me in a country where they don’t use dollars. I went there for the first time this weekend. They actually accepted greenbacks..." READ »

 
 
 
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