Sweden criticized for classifying almost 900 pages about its UN campaign

The Local Sweden
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Sweden criticized for classifying almost 900 pages about its UN campaign
Foreign Minister Margot Wallström pictured on Monday. Photo: Wiktor Nummelin/TT

Sweden's Foreign Ministry has decided not to make almost 900 pages of information relating to the country's campaign to join the UN security council available to the public.


The decision has been received with some criticism in a country which prides itself on transparency.

The documents were only made available for public access a year after the campaign finished when the Dagens Nyheter daily began an investigation into them, and then they were only released after a three-week confidentiality examination. 

Even now, much of the information will be kept confidential and classified, and entire sections relating to the activities Sweden undertook in relation to different countries have been blanked out.

Of the 860 total pages, 202 have been disclosed, but these are primarily cover pages, where only the headings are visible. And 661 pages are not accessible at all, as they have been classified as totally confidential.

When contacted by The Local, the Foreign Ministry's press department was not immediately available for comment, but pointed to a statement shared by Wallström on her Facebook page. The ministry told DN that releasing the documents could interfere with Sweden's international relations.

In the statement shared on social media, Wallström said that allegations that the ministry had purposely kept the documents hidden were wrong, although she has admitted that "procedures (had) not been followed".

According to DN, the Foreign Ministry and Swedish Embassy in New York had used a parallel computer system, which meant that the documents had not been available via freedom of information requests.

Wallström said that there had been three reports made into Sweden's campaign for a seat on the UN security council, from the Committee on the Constitution, Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs and one internal report, which concluded there were no irregularities or inaccuracies.

She was invited to be questioned by the Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs on Thursday about the information being kept secret and said "we have nothing to hide and are happy to answer the questions they have".

Karin Enström, foreign policy spokesperson for the Moderates, told SVT: "The Foreign Ministry's actions risk affecting Sweden's credibility. We campaigned for the Security Council with a slogan or 'openness' and this is the exact opposite."

And Felix Arnstedt of the Young Christian Democrats tweeted a picture of Swedish water bottles shared at the Security Council elections with the slogan 'Sweden is transparent', and commented: "'Sweden is transparent'-campaign kept classified. Brilliant."

Meanwhile, Wallström has said she asked the Foreign Ministry's legal advisor to set up a working group to look into "what measures are needed for foreign affairs to handle documents properly in the future". This group will present its report by the end of February 2018.

Sweden won the seat on the Security Council in June last year, and said in January that it would help contribute to a "council that is more determined, transparent and legitimate".

READ MORE: How Sweden negotiated a seat on the UN Security Council


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