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UN council seat focus of Löfven’s US trip

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UN council seat focus of Löfven’s US trip
Photo: AFP
14:53 CEST+02:00
Sweden’s candidacy for a seat on the UN Security Council will dominate Stefan Löfven’s trip to New York and Washington, DC. While in the US, he will also meet Vice-President Joe Biden.

Straight off his trip to China, Prime Minister Löfven is spending two intensive days in the United States, where he will campaign for Sweden to get a seat on the 15-member UN Security Council in 2017-18.

His official reason for the stop at the UN is a speech he will give on Monday at the United Nations Economic and Social Council, where work is going on about moving forward with sustainable development goals. Löfven’s speech will address fair working conditions.

But before and after the talk, he will be meeting UN ambassadors to try to convince them to cast their vote for Sweden in 2016 for a spot on the Security Council beginning the next year.

While both Italy and the Netherlands are also vying for spots on the council during the same period, Sweden is building a case for itself based on its commitments to the rule of international law, development, disarmament and human rights. 

“We’ve been candidates since 2004, but it’s never been pushed so hard until the current government took power in the fall,” said Hans Dahlgren, state secretary for foreign and EU affairs and a former UN ambassador himself.

Dahlgren was UN ambassador the last time Sweden had a chair on the Security Council in 1997-1998 and knows well the problems associated with the veto power enjoyed by the council’s five permanent members, the US, Russia, China, France and the UK. For example, vetoes by China and Russia have prevented any resolutions regarding the Syrian conflict from moving forward.

“Even the so-called quiet veto is a problem,” he said. “For example, everyone knows that the US would veto any resolution regarding the Israel-Palestinian problem. So the subject just never comes up.”

Asked what kinds of issues Sweden would focus on were it a Security Council member today, Dahlgren said Syria would come up, as would more questions around disarmament.

On Monday, Löfven is also scheduled to meet the UN’s Swedish deputy secretary-general, Jan Eliasson. On Tuesday, he will give a speech on globalisation at the Brookings Institute, a renowned think tank, before meeting Vice-President Biden at the White House.

Talks with Biden will centre on the situation in Ukraine and the radicalisation of youth who then go off to join jihadist groups such as ISIS. 

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