Sweden Approves Strategic Cooperation Support to North Africa

STOCKHOLM – The Swedish Government has approved a cooperation strategy for support to the Middle East and North Africa for the period 2010-2015. Some important components of the strategy are the development of democratic governance and human rights, regional economic cooperation across national borders, and joint use of water resources.

“Stronger regional cooperation is needed to solve the serious challenges facing the Middle East and North Africa,” says Minister for International Development Cooperation Gunilla Carlsson. “The Government’s new strategy will enable Sweden to promote the emergence of democracy, improved respect for human rights, in particular the rights of women and children, and sustainable development in the region.”

The overall objectives of the strategy are stronger democracy and increased respect for human rights, together with sustainable development that will improve conditions for peace, stability and freedom in the region. The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) has been made responsible for implementing development cooperation in accordance with the strategy. Cooperation will focus on three sectors: democratic governance and human rights; sustainable use of transboundary water resources, where the areas around the River Jordan and the Euphrates and Tigris are particularly important; and regional economic integration.

Sweden is already making substantial contributions by focusing on areas in which we have special resources and where there is an interest in the region in Swedish experience, such as environmental technology and the rights of women and children.

The funds available for the period covered by the strategy total approximately SEK 650 million. The Middle East and North Africa region consists of 18 countries, the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Western Sahara, and has a combined population of about 355 million.