February 26th 2024

Swedish Nato membership: a risky misprioritization with immense consequences. 

After a vote in the Hungarian parliament today, Sweden will now become a member of the military alliance NATO. SPAS has been against a Swedish NATO membership during the entire accession process and raised the issue that a NATO membership risks increasing insecurity and limiting Sweden’s abilities to be a strong and independent voice for disarmament, human rights and international law.

”A Swedish NATO membership is a risky misprioritization that will lead to increased tension, polarisation and militarisation at a time where we need the exact opposite. A NATO membership has uncritically been presented as a boon for Sweden’s security but increased armament, joining a nuclear alliance and allying ourselves with undemocratic countries, is not what leads to sustainable peace and security”, says Kerstin Bergeå, President of SPAS.

The government declared that Sweden could continue promoting fundamental values such as disarmament, international law and human rights in its foreign and security policy even as a member of NATO. However, Sweden’s stance has weakened in many UN processes. Moreover, after some pressure, Sweden resumed its arms export to Turkey and in 2022 granted arms export to Albania for the first time. Both decisions were motivated by Sweden’s application to NATO.

”Sweden’s actions during the accession process have shown that its NATO strategy is appeasement and accommodation. It is very worrying. There has been a lot of lip service paid to the idea that it’s still possible to maintain an independent foreign policy and an ambitious disarmament policy but, until now, we’ve only seen the opposite”, says Kerstin Bergeå, President of SPAS.

SPAS has continuously raised the issue of the flawed analysis of, and lack of debate about, the potential negative consequences and risks of a NATO membership throughout the process of accession. After the American presidential election this fall, Donald Trump may have substantial influence in the alliance.

”The entry into NATO will mean immense consequences for Sweden, for those of us who live here and for our role in the world. That isn’t unexpected but it was never highlighted in the clearly flawed analysis that preceded the decision to join NATO. We have only just begun to see the breadth of the consequences of a membership in NATO. There are astonishingly many serious questions that remain unanswered on what this means for Sweden and our security”, says Kerstin Bergeå, President of SPAS.

In January 2024, SPAS released the report “Sweden in NATO”, which shows that there are many important and unanswered questions regarding Sweden’s NATO membership such as:

  • Can conscripts be sent to NATO missions abroad, for example to fight for Turkey or another NATO country?
  • Will Sweden participate in nuclear weapons related activities and can nuclear weapons be brought in or placed on Swedish territory?
  • How will Sweden’s arms export be affected when it comes to human rights, democracy and respect for international law  in the buyer country?
  • How will Sweden, within the framework entailed by a NATO membership, continue to be a strong voice for nuclear disarmament and international law?


For media inquiries, please contact:
Linnéa Petersson, Communications, 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


Svenska Freds- och skiljedomsföreningen
Polhemsgatan 4

+46(0)70 763 48 52

For press inquires:
+46 (0)70-763 48 57

More information and contact details here (in Swedish).


Give peace your change

When you donate to or become a member of SPAS, you become an active force in our work for sustainable peace in the world.

Your donation allows us to:

  • coordinate activists in political campaigns, such as establish a ban on nuclear weapons
  • monitor arms trading companies and others in power, and in the long run put an end to the arms export to non-democracies and war zones
  • help conscientious objectors; people that do not want to do military service or want to do military service unarmed
  • spread our message in the media, so that we can inform more people about non-violent conflict resolution and many other ways in which we build sustainable peace!

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