Global commitment: Olof Palme

Published 14 April 2016 in:

Olof Palme. Photo: Olof Palme International Center

It is often said of Olof Palme that he made Sweden larger.

This may be true, but it was hardly his objective. Olof Palme was an outspoken fighter for the rights and freedoms of people all over the world – a tradition that Swedish foreign policy still rests on today. This is how peace and security have to be built.

“Human dignity – this is the right and the practical opportunity to shape the future together with others,” said Olof Palme.

He had this strong commitment even as a young man. He studied and travelled in the United States, and became a student politician specialising in international cooperation. Olof Palme’s international commitment – his great passion for human dignity – motivated him to become a politician.

“Throughout time people have lived in poverty and misery, been humiliated by hunger and ignorance, tormented each other and been driven to war. Yet everything is not the same. What is new is that we have gained deeper knowledge. What is new, above all, is that we are beginning to show a willingness to take responsibility for each other. So it is not meaningless when we react, take a stand and try, according to our abilities, to influence developments.”

These words are still relevant today. We must take responsibility. We must react. We must influence developments.

Olof Palme stood at the forefront of international opinion formation against the policy of apartheid in South Africa and for liberation from colonialism right across the world. During difficult times, he dared to take a stand for people and their rights, for peace, solidarity and democracy – even in countries where Western politicians had previously mainly been conspicuous by their absence. For this, there are many, many people today who still cherish his memory.

The world currently faces difficult new challenges. The leaders of the world need to show fresh courage and fresh clarity.

The Swedish Government is pursuing a policy for sustainable global development and an equitable distribution of rights and resources.

We are doing this not least through our intensive involvement in the work of the UN throughout the world.

This is a cornerstone of Sweden’s foreign policy.