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Madeleine Rees on Sweden and what it means to have a feminist foreign policy

March 24, 2015

In an openDemocracy 50.50 article, WILPF Secretary General Madeleine Rees comments on the recent decision by the Swedish government to end their military cooperation agreement with Saudi Arabia.

Margot Wallström, the Swedish Foreign Minister, had previously criticised the Saudi authorities for their lack of respect for human rights, calling the sentence of 1,000 lashes and flogging of liberal Saudi blogger Raif Badawi “mediaeval”. When Saudi Arabia recently blocked Wallström from addressing the Arab League due to her statements, it was the final nail in the coffin for the already contested “Saudi agreement”.

As we look at the conflicts that are going on today, we must not forget that weapons are at the heart of the problem, and that anyone claiming to have a feminist foreign policy must address the issue of where these weapons come from.

“There are choices that we have to make.” Madeleine Rees writes in her article. “We can have foreign policies that give succor to regimes that kill, torture and maim their own citizens, and then pass on the weapons we sell to their protégées in other countries. Or we can choose a fundamental change in the way we do business and demand foreign policies that promote human rights and that refuse to facilitate conflict through the use of more and more violence and militarism.”

Read the full article.

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