How Sweden bribed its way to a seat in the UN Security Council using millions taken from the public budget for aid to poor countries

posted in: December 2016 issue, Sweden | 0

By Prof Marcello Ferrada de Noli, PhD.

Chair, Swedish Doctors for Human Rights.

 “It was a cover operation for what this is really about, namely to buy votes, says the source” (In DN)

In a few days, Sweden will be occupying a seat on the UN Security Council, including the chairmanship. This was the result of a hard campaign initiated in 2015 to gain endorsement among the voting governments. For that purpose, the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs spent 27 million SEK. The operation included the invitation to Stockholm, of UN ambassadors of a variety of poor and developing countries, and it was carried out on the most luxurious terms. This was financed with money taken from the Swedish Aid Program for poor and developing countries. The real aim and scope of the operation was kept secret, and the different steps of the campaign were not recorded.

The Swedish Government’s behaviour shows a remarkable paradox. Whilst their aim is to gain a seat at all cost at a UN organism, at the same time they completely disregard the resolutions of another UN organism, namely the  UNWGAD (United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions), which has requested that Sweden immediately  free Mr Julian Assange.

Whose voice in the UN Security Council?

One of the first things that was done by the campaign orchestrated at the Ministry of foreign affairs was to change Sweden’s official slogan that previously read, “Global commitment – Sweden and independent voice”. They simply  removed  “independent voice” from the slogan:

Why? What voice will Sweden be representing instead in the Security Council?

The above move came at the time when Sweden followed subserviently (and still does) Hillary Clinton’s doctrine for instance on Syria, and was a leader in the hardening of sanctions against Russia. It also happened shortly after Sweden’s foreign minister Carl Bildt defended the use of force by the Ukraine Junta to stop the occupation of buildings – as it was at the Trade Union building in Odessa where over a hundred demonstrators were burned alive.

Further in this context, Sweden had in 2014 lost the vote at the UN to be elected to the Human Rights Council. In fact, the candidacy of Sweden got one of the lowest-number of votes. Although few people in Sweden knew about this embarrassment (the news was hardly mentioned in the Swedish media. In fact, totally ignored by the state-owned media), international commentators associated this lack of support from the international community, mainly with the collaboration of Sweden in the illegal and secret renditions of political refugees in Sweden to the CIA (for which Sweden was sanctioned by the UN for violation of the Absolute Ban on Torture), and, naturally, with the treatment of the Assange case.

So, how can it be explained that Sweden was elected to the Security Council in 2016?

To begin with, the voting result for Sweden was not “a shock victory”, as the Swedish media chose to present it. In fact, this is not the first time that Sweden, like many other small countries, has rotated as a not-permanent (non-veto) country in the Security Council. Sweden was elected for the first time in the 50’s, and then in the 70’s. Then, in 1997, when Sweden still benefited from the late Olof Palme’s prestige in the international arena (the distinguished and honourable Olof Palme was assassinated and the Swedish Police says that they still don’t know who did it), Sweden was elected to the Security Council with 153 votes.

Now, in 2016, Sweden got elected with 134 votes. In the same election, Italy got 113. The difference was then n= 21 votes. The question being, what role did the royal treatment that Sweden gave to n= 27 UN ambassadors from poor and developing Third World countries play in the cover operation described below?

To gather support for its candidacy, Sweden seemingly resorted to similar strategies as those used by the corporations that the government fosters and protects, namely, bribing [See here, here, and here].

–Photo published by DN—

Crown Princess Victoria & husband receive the UN-ambassadors at the royal castle in Stockholm

The main Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN), described the ‘bribing’ of the 27 ambassadors in the following terms:

“The Swedish government has in secret used money belonging to aid-programs in the campaign for a seat at the UN Security Council. An independent foundation has been granted millions taken from the budget for the aid-program, which the Foreign Office used to pay for restaurants, hotels and expensive plane tickets to 27 UN-ambassadors who then voted for Sweden’s seat”. “The ambassadors represent poor  Third World countries and have one thing in common: Each of them has the right to vote at the UN general assembly, which in June will elect the new members of the Security Council”.

They also had in common that they all opened “bags full of presents” [presentväskor] waiting for them at their suites at the Sheraton Hotel in Stockholm, and the Grand Hotel in Uppsala.

A cover campaign

A feature in this cover operation – remarks the DN report – was that the Swedish government neither issued a press release, nor any communication at all, on the visits of the 27 ambassadors. This, despite the fact that the ambassadors were, on one and the same day, invited to lunch with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Margot Wallström, coffee with the Aid-program minister Isabella Lövin, and dinner with the Prime Minister, Stefan Löfvén.

That the Swedish government from the beginning planned on a ‘clandestine’ campaign , is proven by the fact that no record (or “diary”) was kept at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the different decisions taken regarding the campaign. It was only after the exposure done by DN and other media that the government released a number of emails.

Months after the revelations in DN, the State-owned Swedish Radio – in an article headed “The campaign for a seat in the UN Security Council cost 27 million SEK”– was forced to admit several details not yet known. For instance the traveling done by officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to more than 20 countries that had the right to vote in the UN for the new members of the Security Council.

Four days before the voting at the UN, Sweden’s representation office in New York spent one million SEK on a Midsummer party attended by 700 guests. According to Expressen, which has access to the invoices, the Swedish office at the UN used nearly 3 million SEK for “external representation costs” from 2015 until June 2016. The expenditures are about “dinners with strategically selected persons from other countries, whose names are for the most part kept secret, as well as receptions with important guests”.

“Feminist foreign policy”? Or opening markets for weapon-exports?

Furthermore, PM Löfvén announced that Sweden will be donating an extra 21 million SEK to a UN project…for the supply of toilets for women. As it is known, Sweden last year changed its main official mantra from “human rights” to a “feminist foreign policy”, as it was recently explained in these terms:

“The history of Sweden’s  ‘soft’ trademark designs aimed at getting access to an international market for its exports. In modern times, the Swedish trademarks launched by the authorities abroad were, first the “neutrality” vow of the 60’s – 80’s, which was maintained until the fall of the Berlin Wall. Then it was followed by the “human rights” pretence of the 90’s, which ended with the catastrophe vote against Sweden in the UN in 2014, after irrecoverable prestige losses caused by the secret collaboration by the Swedish government with the CIA. Ultimately, the Swedish international mantra directed at the international market has been replaced with the ‘feminist’ characterization announced by the authorities. This was aimed at being applied in all Swedish official activities and stands, particularly in their foreign policy. “

Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallström was asked on Swedish TV (at Channel 4) about the future role of Sweden in the Security Council, while Sweden is not a ‘permanent member’ and thus has no right to veto resolutions. She said:

“What the Security Council does is important. But, indeed, we also work on limiting the possibilities (for the permanent members of the Security Council) of using their veto right.”

Later in the interview on Sweden’s work at the UNSC, she added:

“…And that we also find good allies and cooperation-partners” [“Och att vi också hittar bra allierade och samarbetspartners“]

She didn’t need to add the implicit: “And we know where and how to find them”.

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The author:

Prof-Marcello-Ferrada-de-Noli-4-Jan-2016-no-glasses-redc-Hanna-to-The_Indicter-644x634Professor, Medicine doktor Marcello Ferrada de Noli is the founder and chairman of Swedish Doctors for Human Rights and Editor-in-Chief of The Indicter. Also publisher of The Professors’ Blog, and CEO of Libertarian Books – Sweden. Author of Sweden VS. Assange – Human Rights Issues. His op-ed articles have been published in Dagens Nyheter (DN), Svenska Dagbladet (Svd), Aftonbladet, Västerbotten Kuriren, Dagens Medicin,  Läkartidningen and other Swedish media. He also have had exclusive interviews in DN, Expressen, SvD and Aftonbladet, and in Swedish TV channels (Svt 2, TV4, TV5) as well as international TV and media.

Reachable via email at editors@theindicter.com, chair@swedhr.org

Follow the professor on Twitter at @Professorsblogg