What role can Sweden play to promote peace in the Middle-East?

5:30 min

Sweden's decision to recognise Palestine, and its recent spat with Saudi Arabia have once again put events in the Middle East at the top of Sweden's diplomatic agenda. But what influence can this small nation in northern Europe hope to have?

On Wednesday, the Society and Defense Association, or Folk och Försvar in Swedish, organized a seminar in Gamla Stan about the situation in the Middle East, how it affects Sweden and what Sweden can do to help create a peaceful resolution to the conflicts in the region.

Hans Corell is a former Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and the Legal Counsel of the United Nations. He said that the double standards of the UN Security Council are partly to blame for the difficult situation in the Middle East.

Michael Sahlin is a former Swedish ambassador to Turkey. He said that Sweden has a long history of being critical of governments with human rights issues, like South Africa during apartheid and that when Sweden takes stands like this it can affect change. Recently, Swedish foreign minister Margot Wallström openly criticized Saudi Arabia for it's human rights abuses and Sweden decided not to extend an arms deal with the country.

Meanwhile, Liberal Party MP Fredrik Malm spoke about the situation in the Middle East as a dynamic but permanent situation, which requires both long-term and short-term viewpoints and action.