The Swedish Social Democratic Party announcement to apply for a Swedish NATO membership today is sad and hasty.

Today, the Swedish Social Democratic party announced their decision to work towards a Swedish NATO membership application. This decision means that Sweden is about to abandon over 200 years of military non-alignment

– This decision is incredibly saddening and hasty and it means that Sweden will contribute to making the world more polarised and militarised. A NATO membership does not make Sweden – or the rest of the world – safer or more democratic, says Agnes Hellström, President of the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society.

In the eyes of many, Sweden is a country that champions disarmament, conflict prevention, mediation, and diplomacy. If Sweden’s membership application to NATO is approved, Sweden will be a part of a nuclear alliance and will have to support NATO’s use of nuclear weapons in the event that such a decision is made.

NATO is a military alliance which is built on the threat of massmurder of civilians through the use of nuclear weapons. As a NATO member, it will be considerably more difficult for Sweden to work for disarmament and extensive efforts will be needed if Sweden still wants to influence the work being done in nuclear disarmament,  says Agnes Hellström, president of the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society.

In a press release, the Social Democratic Party writes that it will “work to make sure that Sweden – if its membership application is approved by NATO, will state unilateral objections against the placement of nuclear weapons and permanent military bases on Swedish territory”

– The issue of NATO and nuclear weapons is much bigger than just military bases and placement of nuclear weapons. The threat of nuclear weapons is a central tenet of NATO. As a member, Sweden will – unless we object – actively participate in planning and exercising the use of nuclear weapons. Sweden must enact a national law that bans nuclear weapons from Swedish territory and  immediately ratify the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, says Agnes Hellström, president of the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society.

The decision by the Social Democratic Party was made in a hasty process mere months before a parliamentary election. Critics within the party have deemed this internal process a “mock debate” where the party leadership had already made up its mind.

– The decision lacks popular support and therefore legitimacy. Many questions still remain unanswered about what Sweden’s role in NATO will be and exactly what a membership will mean, says Agnes Hellström.

For media inquiries, please contact:
Maja Landin, Press Secretary, Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society, +46 (0)70-763 48 57


The Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society (Svenska Freds- och Skiljedomsföreningen) is the world’s oldest and Sweden’s largest peace organization. We are an association for people who believe that conflicts can be resolved without violence, and that war can be prevented through collaboration, economic means and diplomacy. We work towards sustainable peace by spreading knowledge, forming public opinion and influencing decision makers.

The Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society, SPAS consists of our members, donors, activists, board and employees. We work tirelessly for the sake of peace. We believe, always and without exceptions, in nonviolence and peaceful conflict management.

We put our foot down, and make the room uncomfortable by asking the questions no one else would ask. We always takethe discussionseriously but also with a good sense of humor.

Based on our knowledge and experience we argue for what we believe in and create the change we want to see. When our opponents – and sometimes our allies – say that “it will never work”, we respond with possible and positive solutions, as opposed to militarization and armed conflict.
Since the beginning in 1883, we have changed history several times. Together we change the future.

The Swedish Peace and Arbitrary Society is a non-religious, non-partisan and nonprofit organization.


More information about our working areas (in Swedish):

Arms exports

  • Sweden is one of the world’s largest exporters of arms per capita. Last year, the export of arms from Swedish companies rose with 305 from 11,4 Billion SEK to 16,4 billion SEK. Sweden supplies arms to non-democracies and countries in armed conflict such as Thailand, UAE, Hungary, Qatar, Turkey, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, the Philippines and more. In the meantime, Sweden is often portrayed as a country that has had peace for the last 400 years, and that often takes on the role as peace broker. We survey arms deals and the amount and contents of Swedish arms exports.


  • Abolition of nuclear weapons
  • Militarized AI – The consequences of the use of militarized autonomous weapons, so called killer robots, can be severe. But the development of AI weapons are moving fast and can be used in warfare within the coming years. Currently, there are no legal constraints on the use of killer robots, and we need to act fast in order to stop the development of such.
  • Landmines and cluster munitions 

Sustainable peace and security

  • Another essential issue in peace building is looking at investments and the nation’s distribution of tax income. In 2018, the global economic cost of armed conflict was $1.02 trillion. Peace, however, is much cheaper. Studies show that if we spend a dollar on building peace in conflict countries we reduce the cost of conflict by $16. And if we just imagine spending 10% ($102 billion) of the cost of conflict on preventing it, it could potentially be enough to achieve world peace.In Sweden, the spending on national defence is supposed to increase with 30% between 2020 and 2023, from 63,6 Billion SEK to 82,9 Billion SEK. Yet, an armed invasion of Swedish territory is highly unlikely. And does militarization really make us more safe? We believe this money is better spent on healthcare and combating climate change, which are actual and more pressing threats towards people’s safety.

Defence and security policy

International networks


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