International cooperation more important than ever

Published 25 September 2019 in:

Photo: UN Photo/Evan Schnider

No country can tackle the world’s challenges alone: wars and conflicts, climate change, poverty, lack of equality, lack of respect for human rights, nuclear weapons proliferation – unfortunately the list is long. International cooperation is vital – and it makes us stronger.

Sweden, which recently held a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, remains a firm and tireless voice for more – not less – cooperation.

Next year, the UN celebrates its 75th anniversary. The organisation rose from the ashes of the Second World War with a promise to work for peace and prosperity for coming generations.

The work being done by the UN, the EU, the World Bank, the WTO, the OSCE and other multilateral bodies is just as important now, if not more so. Today, we see multilateral frameworks increasingly being called into question. An increasing number of countries believe that they can solve their problems on their own and that cooperation is a burden – or even a threat to their national interests or an intrusion on their national sovereignty.

This negative trend must be reversed if we are to tackle the many global challenges facing us today. Cooperation strengthens nations. Isolation makes them weaker; history shows many examples of this.

“The alternative to multilateralism is unilateralism; where has unilateralism taken the world in the past? And where does unilateralism, fanned by the forces of populism and authoritarianism, risk leading us in the future?” says Ann Linde, Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Sweden stands up for the rules-based international order and we will continue to defend and devote energy to strengthening multilateralism and international cooperation.

“At the core of the multilateral system is the United Nations. Sweden – together with the EU – will continue to advocate for the need to invest in a strong, effective and accountable UN, including by promoting closer cooperation between the EU and the UN,” says Ms Linde.

Throughout the years, multilateral cooperation has resulted in important international agreements, the most recent of which include the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on financing for development, the Paris Agreement on the climate and the Sustaining Peace Agenda.

In June, the European Council adopted conclusions on EU action to strengthen multilateralism, something Sweden supports wholeheartedly and will work to implement. The Council writes:

“Multilateralism with the UN at its core is a cornerstone of the EU’s external policy. Our interest lies in a multilateral system that is rules and rights-based, protects the global commons, promotes shared public goods, and delivers benefits for citizens in Europe and across the globe. Cooperation through effective multilateralism remains the best way to advance national as well as collective interests.”

The critical importance of protecting human rights is also clearly expressed:

“Reaffirming that human rights are universal, indivisible and interdependent and are to be realised worldwide, the EU will continue fostering international action on the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms, human dignity, democracy, the rule of law, social progress, solidarity and equality, including gender equality, the rights of persons belonging to minorities.”

Minister for Foreign Affairs Ann Linde concludes:

“Multilateralism matters to me because it is the only way forward. For my country, Sweden, multilateralism is the guarantee for our security and prosperity. Without a rules-based order and international cooperation, in a world without spheres of influence and where ‘might is right’, our lives would be very different.”