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Swedish weapons sold to dictatorships: agency

Fresh figures from the Swedish Agency for Non-proliferation and Export Controls (Inspektionen för strategiska produkter, ISP) show that a large percentage of Swedish arms exports go to undemocratic countries and dictatorships, despite a decision from the Riksdag last year to tighten regulation on arms exports.

Swedish weapons sold to dictatorships: agency

“I am terribly disappointed to see exports to dictatorships soaring. It is a radical increase compared to previous years, despite the Riksdag’s decision from last year to tighten arms export rules,” said Anna Ek, head of the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society, SPAS, (Svenska Freds), to daily Dagens Nyheter (DN).

The figures show that Swedish companies in 2011 exported defence materials worth 13.9 billion kronor ($2.1 billion), staying more or less on the same level as the previous year.

Swedish arms sales to Thailand, Saudi Arabia, India, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates made up 60 percent of the sales in 2011.

37 percent went to other EU countries and established cooperation nations such as the US, Canada and South Africa, according to ISP.

“In 2011 it was the export of Jas 39 Gripen fighter jets to Thailand and the airborne surveillance system Erieye to the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan,” wrote the director general of ISP, Andreas Ekman Duse in a DN editorial.

But Ek blames Swedish minister for trade Ewa Björling for the fact that the majority of arms sales go to undemocratic countries or dictatorships.

“Björling says that she feels comfortable with how the ISP deals with it. I am guessing the regimes of these countries are also feeling comfortable,” said Ek to DN.

Björling did not want to comment on the propriety in selling arms to countries like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, pointing to how the Swedish Agency for Non-proliferation and Export Controls is an independent agency which, together with the Export Control Council, a special parliamentary advisory body, weighs together all factors, of which human rights is one.

“Sometimes they reach the conclusion to allow export and sometimes not. And this judgement is ultimately about Sweden’s security,” said Björling to news agency TT.

How that works with selling weapons to India and Pakistan, Björling chose not to answer. Instead she referred the question to ISP.

According to Björling, Sweden’s rules on selling arms to dictatorships are strict and she is hoping to form a committee to work on ways to tighten Swedish arms export controls further.

And Ekman Duse agrees with her.

“For countries lacking in human rights, the rules stipulate that equipment which could potentially be used against the own population should not be exported,” he told DN.

The anti-tank weapons sold to Saudi Arabia, for example, are not meant to be used for internal struggles but only if another country would invade, according to Ekman Duse.

He did not want to speculate on whether it would be possible for the regime to use these in case of insurrection, as was seen in Syria.

Also, the export to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia aside, Swedish arms exports to the Middle East and North Africa was limited, according to ISP.

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Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute suffers fall in reputation ranking

Sweden's Karolinska Institute (KI) has tumbled in a prestigious international reputation ranking released on Wednesday.

Stockholm's Karolinska Institute suffers fall in reputation ranking
The reputation rankings were dominated by the US. Photo: Anonymous100000/WikiCommons

Stockholm's KI, which selects the winners of the Nobel Prize in medicine, saw a significant drop in the Times Higher Education (THE) World Education Rankings 2018 which was released on Wednesday.

It now ranks in the 61-70 bracket, in other words, it ranked between 61st place and 70th worldwide. This is down from the 51-60 bracket over the past two years, and 45th place in 2015. 

The tumble mirrors a similar misfortune for Karolinska in September, when the university dropped ten places in a similar education ranking

Phil Baty, the editor of THE, said at the time that the 2017 tumble could likely be blamed on the scandal hitting the institution involving celebrity Italian surgeon Paolo Macchiarini. The surgeon was fired from KI over accusations of misconduct after several of his trachea transplant patients died.

READ MORE: Macchiarini's seventh transplant patient dies

Elsewhere in Sweden, only the Uppsala University managed to crack the top 100 in the 2018 reputation rankings, sneaking into the 91-100 bracket. 

The reputation rankings were dominated by the US, with 44 institutions in the top 100 and Harvard University at the top of the pile.

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Elsewhere, the UK could boast 9 institutions in the top 100, with China and Germany offering six each. 

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