Norway and Sweden have a long history of promoting peaceful conflict resolution, human rights and gender equality, and strong international organizations. But these internationally established norms and institutions, are currently under increasing pressure as the geopolitical landscape is shifting. The ongoing pandemic has presented further challenges to multilateral institutions and democracy.

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In 2021, Norway will enter the UN Security Council as an elected member and Sweden will chair the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). But what can countries like Sweden and Norway actually accomplish in the changing geopolitical landscape? And how can they assist in tackling the consequences of the ongoing pandemic which places additional strains on peace and democracy regionally and globally? This will be the starting point for this year’s Peace Talk.

With the current pandemic putting a severe strain on societies all over the world, Sweden will take on the OSCE Chair in challenging times. The priorities for the Swedish Chair will be “the very fundamentals of the OSCE: the European security order, the comprehensive concept of security and continued efforts to resolve conflicts in the OSCE region.” What are the main challenges in these areas and how have they been affected by the pandemic?

The UN Security Council remains one of the main arenas for countries to have direct regular communication with the largest global powerholders. At present, however, the Council even struggles to function fully under the ongoing pandemic. What does this mean for Norway’s priorities of building bridges and seeking solutions to the seemingly intractable conflicts that appear on the Security Council’s agenda, promoting international law, human rights, protection of civilians, and women’s rights? And how have these areas been affected by the pandemic?

Concluding, how can we continue to strengthen our collaboration to strengthen the peaceful international norms and institutions we both stand behind?

Moderator: Kristian Berg Harpviken, Research Professor, PRIO

16:30 Welcome by Chargé d’affaires a.i. Mrs Jessica Hedin, Embassy of Sweden in Oslo

16:35 Comments from a research perspective: Covid 19 and democracy, human rights and peace, Siri Rustad, Research Professor, PRIO

16: 45 Address by Mr Robert Rydberg, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Sweden

17:00 Address by Mr Audun Halvorsen, State Secretary to the Norwegian Minister for Foreign Affairs

17:15 Q&A moderated by Kristian Berg Harpviken, Research Professor, PRIO

17:30 Closing comments

This event is a collaboration between the Embassy of Sweden in Oslo, Voksenåsen and PRIO. The Peace Talk is part of the official program for Oslo Peace Days. Click here to learn more.