Human rights in Swedish foreign policy

Swedish foreign policy aims to promote respect for human rights. Concern for human rights and their defence is a central element of Swedish foreign policy. It defines Sweden’s actions in global and regional forums and permeates bilateral contacts with other countries. In 1948, the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted, laying the foundation for today’s extensive global and regional networks for protecting people’s rights.

Swedish commitment
The goal of human rights efforts in Swedish foreign policy is to help ensure that all people benefit from the rights established within the framework of the UN and other international forums. Sweden demonstrates a strong commitment to human rights, and our foreign policy and development cooperation reflect our aspirations for a world in which people can live in freedom, without fear and want. Human rights provide fundamental protection for individuals and aim to guarantee freedoms and create conditions for everyone to live a dignified life.

Sweden considers it legitimate to react and call attention to violations of these rights, since oppressed people – precisely because they are oppressed – seldom have the opportunity to assert their interests.

The importance of international law
Human rights are a central element of international law, and Sweden considers it very important that all states, large and small, respect international law. Oppression and violations of individuals’ rights often lead to instability and armed conflict both within and between countries, as events such as those of the last decade have shown. This in turn affects international peace and security. In other words, our ambition to promote respect for human rights is also based on security policy.

A common foreign and security policy in the EU (CFSP)
The EU is to design and implement a common foreign and security policy, and human rights are to form an integral part of EU activities in these issues. Cooperation gives greater weight to EU actions, and Sweden has consistently emphasised the importance of common human rights efforts within the Union.

One tool available to the EU through the common foreign and security policy is the human rights guidelines that the Union has developed. These guidelines also highlight the issues to which the EU has given high priority.