Thanks, Gunilla Carlsson!

The Swedish voice in the UN has been silenced since the Moderates ruled over Swedish development policy to be only about control of development aid money. The Moderates, unlike the Social Democrats, are rather uninterested in the UN. Kenneth G Forslund (S) writes on the occasion of a new interview with Gunilla Carlsson (M)

Thank you Gunilla Carlsson for finally being honest.

On 3 September, former Minister for Development Aid Gunilla Carlsson (M) in Development Today about his years as minister. In the interview, she describes what she did and what she did not have time to do before she quit. In her eyes, there was a lot left to do, especially when it comes to Sweden's work at the UN.

Development Today calls Gunilla Carlsson Sweden's most controversial development aid minister. But is it you Gunilla who is controversial, or is it the moderates' view of aid and, above all, the UN, which is controversial?

In a book, Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt has described us Swedes as "the sleeping people". Gunilla Carlsson calls Swedish development aid a "sleeping beauty". Just as Reinfeldt has for eight years tried to awaken the Swedish people with extensive privatizations and tax cuts, Gunilla Carlsson has tried to "awaken" aid and shake up this policy area with her "reform agenda". At the same time, she asserted to the outside world that this was not a new policy.

Gunilla Carlsson has pursued a reform agenda. She has "shaken the system". She has "attacked power structures" and she has "changed the rules for how aid funds are allocated".

How many times has Gunilla Carlsson not claimed that all she wanted was for Sweden's aid to be more effective? How many times has she, and later her successor Hillevi Engström, not said that the development aid policy platform is not a new policy?

In fact, it has always been about Gunilla Carlsson and her party wanting to change from Sweden's long tradition of development cooperation to a more old-fashioned development assistance.

The core of development assistance is money, says Gunilla Carlsson. And yes, that's right. If you only talk about aid - which the Moderates do all the time. Your platform is an aid policy platform, not a development policy. This is not semantics. This shows two essentially different approaches.

Development policy is about global development, and this is so much more than just counting money, and writing matrices for short-term quantifiable results. In my view of development policy, Sweden must continue to be a credible global player, not just a donor of development aid.

Sweden must be a strong voice to eradicate poverty in the world, for a fairer world. For a sustainable climate and sustainable, democratic and equal societies. For peace and freedom. For human rights that include women and children. For everyone's right to a decent job. And for vulnerable people to have a voice. We do this best by being a strong player and a clear voice in the UN.

I agree with you Gunilla Carlsson. Sweden must focus on what are Sweden's comparative advantages. I mean that one is to be a strong and clear voice in the UN. As we have always been - until the Moderates changed Sweden's powerful development policy to be only a matter of control of development aid money.

The Social Democrats' development policy is based on cooperation within the UN. The moderates are rather uninterested in the UN, as they clearly show with the very late and dutifully started campaign for a Swedish seat on the UN Security Council.

With a new Social Democratic-led government after the election, Sweden will pursue an active global development policy with and for poor people. It must be supported by active participation in UN work.

Kenneth G Forslund (S)
Member of the Riksdag and development policy spokesperson

This is a debate article. The author is responsible for analysis and opinions in the text.

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